Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

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Gardening, flowers and the Flower Show are central to the social fabric of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Green

{Pennsylvania Horticultural}
Pennsylvania Horticultural

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the best in the country. Getting crowds of visitors every March, it would get even more if Convention Hall were bigger. Obviously, it is a financial success for its owner, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. What six or eight million dollars of profits go for is a city-wide outdoor beautification effort called Philadelphia Green. That, too, is the biggest, oldest and best effort of its kind in the country

About a hundred employees and four thousand enthusiastic volunteers spread out over the City, to make it look half-way decent. As the momentum grows, the political strength grows, too; and politicians notice that. The ladies who run this effort hit the school system pretty hard for volunteers and the enthusiasm of inner-city kids for an activity not often seen in the asphalt jungle is very heartening. The Horticultural Society also hits local businesses with appeals; if flower gardens aren't your thing, just give us the money and we'll do it for you.

Philadelphia Green has created four hundred community gardens, seventy neighborhood parks, planted 20,000 trees in 4 years, and vigorously pursued vacant land management. If the ground is hopelessly covered with concrete they bore holes in it to drain off the water, and pour on enough dirt to get grass to grow. Among the many things which volunteers contribute, novel ideas rank high.

Someone approached the Wharton School, and it is asserted that unbeautified vacant lots are worth 18% less than average, while beautified ones are worth 30% more. Since only 10% of the City's many vacant lots have been cleaned up, there's lots of room for economic improvement in the future. But the improvement is already quite visible, isn't it?


Standardized Plant Names: American Joint Committee on Horticultural, Frederick Law Olmsted Google Books

Originally published: Tuesday, June 20, 2006; most-recently modified: Friday, May 31, 2019