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Stag & Doe Night, a Snow Sale, and More at the PHS Holiday Pop Up Store!

an inside the store shot2The holidays are in full swing at the PHS Holiday Pop Up Store in Chestnut Hill. Located at 8433 Germantown Avenue, the store is the place to shop exceptional gifts for the gardener, decorator, and culinary enthusiast on your list.

Shop our Snow Sale Friday through Sunday! Get 10% off candles, candle accessories, hot dip mixes (parmesan artichoke and cheddar bacon), and double truffle hot cocoa mixes. And don’t forget, PHS members save 20% on all Snow Sale items. Not a member yet? You can join the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society  while at the Pop Up Store.

We also hope that you’ll join us for these in-store events:

Stag & Doe Nights (Wednesday, December 11 and 18) Visit Chestnut Hill on Wednesdays for Stag & Doe Night, when Germantown Avenue comes alive with music, merriment, and more. Come by the PHS Holiday Pop Up Store between 5:00 and 8:00 pm tonight to meet Kate Kurelja, who compiled a new fundraising cookbook, Savoring the Shore. Full of great recipes from home cooks, bloggers, professional chefs, restaurants, celebrity chefs, publishers, Miss America, and more, the cookbook hit the shelves on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and all proceeds go to Sandy recovery in New Jersey. Kate will be offering samples of a family recipe for dill dip and hot holiday clam dip, and copies of the cookbook will be paired with culinary accessories from the Pop Up Store to make the perfect hostess gifts.

Holiday Make & Take (Friday, December 13) Get your greens looking gorgeous at this festive DIY workshop! Choose from a selection of wreaths and swags, then embellish them with sparkling ornaments and accessories, plus a beautiful holiday bow. Workshop gift prices start at $15.

December Store Hours
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 11 am to 6 pm
Wednesday and Friday, 11 am to 8 pm
Sunday 12 to 4 pm
Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, 11 am to 3 pm
Closed Mondays and Christmas Day

Visit for more information, and click here for some gift-giving inspiration. Savor the season with PHS!

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PHeaSt Friday: Today’s the Day!

After all the anticipation it’s hard to believe that PHeaSt is today! Online tickets are no longer available, but you can make your purchase at the door (cash or credit card).

Now that the event is literally hours away, here are a few of the confirmed dishes that PHeaSt guests will enjoy. Try not to drool on your computer!

  • Hand-seared pork belly, roasted root vegetable sticks, and butternut squash foam
  • Zucchini bread pudding
  • Carrot sweet potato spiced cupcake with bourbon glaze
  • Smoked duck breast, caramelized pumpkin, pickled mustard seed
  • BBQ brisket with smoky glaze sweet potato whip
  • Grilled coriander shrimp with heirloom ginger/carrot puree and green papaya salad
  • Smoked trout salad with pickled butternut squash

And that’s just a portion of the list! If your appetite isn’t fully whetted, take a look at this FYI Philly clip featuring chef Andrew Wood of Russet and growers at SPHS Gardens.

So now you realize you simply have to attend, right? Well we are eager to welcome you! Directions and other details can be found at


Fabulous Food and Delicious Drinks Being Served in the Pop Up!

pop9aThe Pop Up Garden is turning into the place in Center City to meet friends, grab a bite, and sip a cool drink! We’re excited that the Garces Group is serving a special menu to garden visitors, with offerings that include a house-smoked turkey sandwich with red onion marmalade and avocado aioli on seven-grain bread and a chopped salad of romaine, arugula, cucumber, organic chicken, candied pecans, and cherry tomatoes with honey-lime dressing. And does anything say “summer” more than their South Philly dog: a Hebrew National hot dog with caramelized onions and Cheese Whiz on a potato roll?

The “grab and go” menu features manchego cheese and truffle lavender honey; pretzel bites with house-made mustard; smoked eggplant hummus with baby carrots and asparagus, and more. Grab a few friends and have a small plates tasting party!  As recently noted, “The beer garden offers local craft beer and cider including Yards Philly Pale, Victory Summer Love, and Philadelphia Brewing Company’s Commonwealth Cider. Yards root beer is available as a non-alcoholic option, or spike it with one of several flavored vodka selections.” Wine, frozen margaritas, infused water, strawberry lemonade, and iced tea are some of the other beverage options.

Just want to stop in after a show for something sweet? Desserts include pie in a jar (blueberry lemon, strawberry basil, and chocolate peanut butter) and ice cream sandwiches (dark chocolate cherry cookie with vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip walnut cookie with chocolate ice cream). I sought a dessert recommendation from a four-year-old Pop Up visitor who was contentedly eating an ice cream sandwich. When asked if he thought I should buy one he replied, “No! I want to save them for me!”

I had a pie in a jar instead.

The Everyday Flower Show: A Pure Design

Continuing our series of visits to PHS Philadelphia Flower Show exhibitors, I visited Michael Haschak at PURE Design.

Now in its eighth year, PURE Design is located at 22nd and Lombard Street in the Fitler Square section of Philadelphia. A contemporary flower shop, each arrangement is handmade according to the needs of the client. Every piece is designed with the eye of an artist and reflects PURE Design’s belief that flowers are just another artistic medium. Always creative, their work has been featured on numerous television and movie sets, as well as around Philadelphia at parties, photo shoots, and events–yet, their sleek signature look is the perfect complement to any home decor.

PURE Design was a first-time exhibitor at the 2013 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, and wowed visitors with their sleek, all-white display that included just a nod to the Show’s British theme. During my visit to PURE, Michael showed me how to create their signature arrangement, one that can be customized with almost any combination of flowers. step aTo begin, he added a layer of river rock to the bottom of a container that was ten inches high, four inches deep, and eight inches tall. He coiled in some fresh curly willow and added water. The rocks and willow not only act as the mechanics for holding the stems of the arrangement, but they also add a natural aesthetic for which PURE is known.

The shape of the design is created using stems of pittosporum. Michael removed all of the foliage that would be in the water to help keep the water clean. He packed in plenty of the greenery, so that the leaves would support the flowers. The pittosporum leaves are somewhat open and flat, making them the perfect background to the feature flowers. “Our step bsignature arrangement is flower on flower–no fillers,” said Michael. “The green accentuates all of the other colors.”

Once the foundation has been created, Michael adds the flowers, working from the largest variety to the smallest. “Every order is different,” he said. ‘We don’t use a recipe and we strive for a lot of abstract designs. I hire artists who have their own visions, not your usual wire service designs.”

Michael incorporated nine stems of green hydrangea, stripping the bark from the lower part of the stems so that the flowers would take up plenty of water. Hydrangeas are known for their tendency tostep d collapse, and stripping the bark helps to prevent it from happening. The hydrangea were evenly spaced throughout the vase, keeping everything at the same level.

Seven stems of orange dahlias were then added, followed by “Red Kansas” peonies. He added another shape element to the design with seven yellow calla lilies. “Callas can be manipulated by running your hand gently up the stem,” Michael said as he demonstrated how to make each stem arch slightly. Finally, he added purple campanula in the few empty spaces that were left. At this point, the arrangement was very full and the stems had to be carefully step e1wiggled into the design.

The finished creation was lush, appropriate for a variety of settings, and easy enough for even the least-experienced home florist to recreate–now that we know the steps! The key is to start with the foliage, add one variety of flower at a time (from largest to smallest), and to keep everything at the same level. I’m thinking about trying it with white hydrangea, parrot tulips, pink roses, pale peach dahlias, and pink astilbe.

Thanks to Michael and everyone in the shop for sharing their expertise so that we can all have a PURE design. Can’t wait to see what you have planned for the 2014 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show!final


Let Little Imaginations Grow with Summertime Stories

Schoolchildren outsideThere’s so much to do this time of year, but we know it can sometimes be a challenge to keep little ones busy! PHS is featuring storytime programs in the air-conditioned McLean Library, located on the first floor at PHS headquarters, 100 North 20th Street in Philadelphia. Children ages 2 to 6 (with their adults) are invited to the library to learn about gardening and the natural world through books read by storyteller Hasha Salaman.

And new for summer 2013, join us outside for storytime at the recently refurbished Sister Cities Park along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 18th Street. When at the park, kids can also play in the bubbling fountains, sail a toy boat in the pond, or run barefoot in the grass under the shade trees.

Hour-long sessions at both locations will be held at 11 am on the dates below.

June 5 in the McLean Library
June 13 at Sister Cities Park
July 10 in the McLean Library
July 11 at Sister Cities Park
August 8 at Sister Cities Park
October 9 in the McLean Library
November 6 in the McLean Library
December 4 in the McLean Library
January 8 in the McLean Library

There’s no need to register and there is no fee! Just bring a blanket, maybe a snack (when visiting the park), and meet us for a delightful hour of engaging stories. For more information, contact Priscilla Becroft at or 215-988-8772.


Preserve Your Gorgeous Garden in Perfect Pictures

I’m a firm believer that we can all create beautiful images of our gardens, regardless of the type of camera we use. Sure, a bag full of lenses, filters, and expensive digital equipment plus a computer with the fanciest editing software will help, but you can also make pictures that look lovely straight out of the camera.

On June 12 at 5:30 pm, I will host a workshop in the PHS McLean Library to discuss how to photograph your gardens. After a brief introduction (and some wine and cheese!) and a slideshow of some of my favorite shots from my gardens and the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show, we’ll venture out to Logan Square to try some of my tips for better pictures. While I don’t want to give it all away in this post, here’s one tip I want you to try this weekend:

Change your perspective.

That’s it. Look at your garden differently by standing on a step stool, kneeling on the ground, or shooting from an upstairs window. By varying your perspective, you literally see your garden differently and your pictures will be more interesting. Imagine lying on your back, breaking the “rules” by shooting toward the early morning sun streaming in from behind your just-opening peonies. Now that’s an interesting picture! Sometimes it’s just being in the right place at the right time to see the perfect kind of light, drops of dew on a petal, or butterfly on a blossom. For example, as I sat on my porch one morning–camera in hand–the scene below happened. I didn’t want to make too much noise or movement, but was able to get a few quick shots of this unlikely pair at the platform feeder.

If you’d like to participate in my workshop, you can register here. Don’t forget to bring your camera along. The fee is $18 for members and $23 for nonmembers. I look forward to meeting you!