The Philadelphia Flower Show is in full swing this week, and visitors from across the region and the world are soaking up the experience to see the best horticultural delights the Delaware Valley has to offer. 

“When you walk in the front door it smells like cedar,” said Cynthia Gallucci, of Cherry Hill. “Every year it changes. It’s so gorgeous.”

Visitors from distant lands spoke in Italian, French and Russian, as crowds packed their way through vendors’ exhibits and the special artistic displays, designed around this year’s theme: the U.S. National Parks. 

There are special horticultural exhibits themed after the Indiana log cabin where Abraham Lincoln grew up, Yellowstone National Park, Muir Woods, and the Appalachian Trail.

“Doing this project definitely made me realize I want to do the whole trail some day,” said Reivon Colon, a horticultural student at Williamson College of the Trades.

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About 20 students from Williamson worked on their exhibit, filled with native Pennsylvania plants, that depicts a scene from the Appalachian Trail. Trail markers, the Maine to Georgia sign, the shelter with a through-hiker’s sleeping bag inside – these were the touches to make the exhibit realistic, said the students who worked on it.

“We wanted to show everyone, when they walk by, that’s what you’d see if you hiked the actual trail,” said Williamson student Norman Lauro.

The Flower Show, the largest such event on the east coast, attracts an average of 250,000 visitors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center – making it Philly’s most popular recurring event. About 170 vendors were selling their wares as well, ranging from lily buds to succulents, cacti, and fresh bouquets.

While Philly NORML, a pro-marijuana legalization group, didn’t get to have the booth they expected at the Flower Show, there were plenty of other attractions – including floral decoration competitions and talks by U.S. park rangers about the history and geology of the national parks.

The Flower Show’s diehard fans were in attendance as always, but some had a few complaints.

“My dad used to come to see the orchids, we’d spend two hours. We checked them out, I think we spent about 20 minutes,” said Melanie Brennan, of Philly. “They have a wider variety of displays now, but they used to have more flowers.” 

However, that doesn’t take away from the magic of the experience. 

“There’s always something different,” Brennan said. “It’s a joyful event. We love being here.”

The Philly Flower Show is open through March 13. Visit theflowershow.com for more.