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Spring has come early to Philadelphia.

On Saturday, the world’s largest and longest running indoor flower show opened to the public - a welcome relief from the unusually bitter winter. Celebrating its one hundred and eighty fifth year, the annual Philadelphia Flower Show attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the country.

The Flower Show designers and twenty-two of the nation’s great art museums, from the Guggenheim to the Barnes Foundation, have come together in an unprecedented collaboration, according to a press release from the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. The result is a transformation of the Philadelphia Convention Center into a “ten-acre living canvas” of landscapes, gardens and floral arrangements.

Some of the more noteworthy exhibits include a display of Andy Warhol’s rarely seen “Flowers” series, leaf sculptures based on the paper cut-outs of Henri Matisse, and a Marilyn Monroe tribute.

Proceeds from the show benefit the PHS, a non-profit organization dedicated to community building through gardening and learning. PHS’s initiatives include the City Harvest program, which supports a network of community gardens.

The sensory overload had iPhones flashing as this year’s theme, ARTiculture, celebrates an impressive fusion of art and horticulture.

One fourth-time visitor and New Jersey resident said that this year’s theme was an interesting choice. “It definitely matches up to past years. All the color and creativity is so inspiring,” she said. Past years’ themes have been less abstract, focusing on places such as England, Hawaii and Paris.

Show visitor Layne Hamilton of upstate New York spoke of the displays as a lovely escape from the winter. “The displays are just awesome ... It’s all just so overwhelming,” she said. “My senses are overloaded.”

Aside from the larger exhibits, show-goers also perused the Artistic Arrangements portion of the show. Glass of wine in hand, one Philadelphia couple enjoyed the fingernail-sized arrangements featured in the jewelry display.

Judged by a panel of gardeners and horticulture experts, the artistic creations are submitted from across the country by individuals, families, garden clubs and even school children.

Ribbons are pinned on the winning displays, sparking debate among attendees. ”I think first prize should have gone to those tulips” one visitor remarked, pointing to a bright yellow and red bouquet.

Visitors of the show can also enjoy a butterfly garden, featuring twenty species of domestic and exotic butterflies, interactive exhibits and craft workshops.

The Philadelphia Flower Show runs through March 9 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

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