Take a Green Tour at the Flower Show

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PNC's green wall in Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is an opportunity to learn how to protect the environment and play a part in sustaining its natural resources.

As principal fundraiser for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Flower Show generates $1 million in revenues for its nationally renowned urban revitalization program, Philadelphia Green.

Visitors can learn about some of Philadelphia Green’s key initiatives, such as its entrepreneurial City Harvest effort, at the PHS Village display. City Harvest is a partnership with the prison system, community gardeners and food cupboard operators dedicated to ensuring fresh produce for under-served communities and nurturing urban agriculture in the region.

PNC Bank, the Presenting Sponsor of the 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show, will express its environmental message with a 16-foot-high by 20-foot-wide “living wall” of plants and recycled materials.

The Flower Show wall, a collaboration with landscape designer Michael Petrie, owner of Handmade Gardens in Chester County, will echo PNC’s 2,380-square-foot green wall unveiled recently on the 30-story Pittsburgh headquarters of PNC Financial Services Group, which is the largest green wall in North America.

The living wall will be constructed “as a collage of recycled materials, including metal road signs, galvanized roofing, old lumber, doors, windows and all kinds of found material,” explains Petrie. The wall will contain an eclectic mix of plant material, such as ferns, succulents, vines, and bromeliads, “creating an effect of a 3D living wall of plants.”

PNC, which has been a lead sponsor of the Flower Show for 19 years, has more newly constructed buildings certified by the U.S. Green Building Council under its LEED program than any other company in the world, with 64 “Green Branch” locations and two office buildings.

Show exhibitors are also shining a spotlight on green living. A living wall by first-time exhibitor OuterSpaces Inc., of Glen Mills, Pa., will utilize sustainable woods, living walls and roofing materials, a solar shade structure, and low-volume water features in its environmentally conscious display.

Temple University will present a three-part exhibit that reveals that while rapid urbanization has had a negative impact on the world, nature has a way of reclaiming its place. Hardy plants return to a vacant lot; a city courtyard becomes a vertical, edible garden; and an urban rain garden creates a lush ecosystem.

Students of the Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, in Media, will ask visitors to appreciate the complexity of the earth’s forest environments and find ways to make their lifestyles more earth-friendly.

The Philadelphia Water Department exhibit will show how modern stream-bed restoration reduces the risk of flooding, supplies the city with drinking water, and provides a rest stop for wildlife traveling to other parts of the world. The EPA will demonstrate how a beautiful garden can treat storm water.

The Camden City Garden Club will address the issue of food security and sustainability and will educate visitors about how easy it can be to grow their own produce.

Students from Delaware Valley College will tackle tough issues, such as maintaining clean water and air, biologically diverse ecosystems, recycling and reusing organic products, and minimizing exposure to toxins, all within a small plot of land.

The PHS Gardener’s Studio presented by Subaru, a series of how-to demonstrations presented by hundreds of experts, offers tips for growing greener. For a full schedule of demonstrations, please go to http://www.theflowershow.com.

And who could forget Hunter Hayes Landscape Design? This Ardmore, PA, organization put together a backyard setting that couldn’t be more inviting. But beyond that, it is also environmentally progressive. A green roof of shrubby, absorbent plants helps reduce heating/cooling costs and protects the roof from the elements. The gutters lead to rain barrels (no need to worry about drought) and help keep a patio fountain flowing.

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