5 Things the Philadelphia Flower Show Taught Us about Sustainability

This year’s theme focused heavily on eco-design and modern urban greening efforts of the Netherlands.

The Philadelphia Flower Show inspires gardeners of all ages and talents each year with colorful and creative floral displays. This year’s show, which ended Sunday, March 19, was titled “Holland, Flowering the World,” and incorporated many elements of the iconic Dutch landscape. Here are five things we learned about Dutch sustainability from the show.


1. Windmills are awesome.

A classic Dutch image, the windmill is more than just aesthetically pleasing. A huge windmill greeted visitors to the show, which utilizes heavy vanes to convert energy from wind. The Netherlands adapted windmills to help drain lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta around 1,000 A.D.

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2. Rain Gardens

University of Delaware students created an exhibit, “A City In Bloom,” which displayed a vibrant and efficient rain garden utilizing native plants and common weeds. To make one at home, create a shallow ditch loaded with deep-rooted native plants to intercept clean rainwater, which will store and reduce the amount of contaminated storm water that can make its way into rivers and streams.


The theme of Amsterdam is depicted by flowery canals, bridges and bikes.//Alyssa Ashley

3. Bicycles

Denmark, Spain and France are only a few of the countries that have ditched cars for bikes. Aside from being great exercise, bicycles contribute zero air pollution. “The Dutch are really on the forefront of that. They’re really environmentally conscious in their design and their every day lives. They ride bikes everywhere so they hardly ever use cars,” says Sam Lemheney, PHS spokesperson. Proving Lemheney’s testimony, pastel-colored bicycles were displayed everywhere. Bike parts, like wheels and spokes, were also used to create abstract sculptures.

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Photo by Alyssa Ashley

4. Green Roofs

Implemented in many Dutch buildings and homes, a green roof is a system made up of several drainage layers, topped with a bed of green vegetation and grass. This helps a number of environmental concerns, including air quality. The plants on green roofs help to capture airborne pollutants, and they also filter noxious gases. Dutch designer Bart Hoes’ created “The Sustainable Roof Garden,” which blended vegetables and herbs with spring bulbs and perennials.


5. Reusing and Recycling

Reinforcing Dutch sustainability methods, PHS reduced waste by saving as much from the show as they could. “Anything that can be repurposed is. We transplant what we can, and the cut flowers are composted. The flowers in the entrance are sold to PHS members at a sale next weekend,” says Alan Jaffe, spokesperson for PHS. 

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