Macy’s Gardens in Paradise flower show fills the store at 13th and Market streets with palm trees and more than 1,000 flowers.
Between rows of shoes and jewelry in Center City’s Macy’s department store, at 13th and Market streets, is an unexpected tropical oasis.
Thousands of flowers, 25-foot palm trees and other foliage, from as far away as Hawaii and South America, are designed to make customers feel as though they have stepped out of the shoe department and into a tropical rainforest in Brazil.
Although not as big as the Philadelphia International Flower Show, which followed its own tropical, Hawaiian theme this year, the Macy’s Gardens in Paradise Flower Show stands out in its own way, said Macy’s senior manager Maurice O’Connell.
“[People are] coming into this wonderful public space and getting an incredible show,” O’Connell said. “They’re seeing 100 different orchids, and color and materials that are so vibrant.”
A 9-foot tall toucan is the centerpiece of the exhibit, decorated with thousands of dyed Brazilian button flowers, leaves and other organic materials. It stands over the plants as visitors pose for pictures.
In addition, mannequins decorated in festive clothing are seen throughout the exhibit. The mannequins are designed in celebration of the Brazilian tradition of Carnival – or a public celebration before Lent – known in America as Mardi Gras. The tradition often involves masquerades and bright colors, and the mannequins follow suit.
“Horticulturists will be impressed,” O’Connor said. “But even if you’re not one, you’re not going to see material like this any place else.”
“This stuff is brought in all over the world, you’re not going to see a 9-foot tall planted toucan anyplace else, you’re not going to see palm trees in Philadelphia like this,” he added.
Although it is the fourth year of the Macy’s flower show, similar flower shows also take place in New York City, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco stores. However, each exhibit is interpreted differently according to the space setup and the landscapers who create it.
Planning began in June for this year’s exhibit, and O’Connell said the scale of the Philadelphia show is the biggest yet for the city.
“There’s a lot of tradition in doing flower shows in retail,” he said. “We’ve been doing shows for 38 years in Herald Square [in New York City].”
“We want the customer to know its spring and give them a great experience – it’s the same as having Santa Claus and the light show during Christmas,” he added.
Shopper Michelle Small said that in addition to enjoying the beauty of the exhibit, the real treasure is in the inspiration the flowers bring.
“The show is for people who enjoy color and what flowers have to offer,” Small said. “The exhibit is just beautiful.”
The show remains open during store hours until April 7, with 15-minute guided tours available each day.
Danielle Miess can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.