The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) is a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, that offers a variety of gardening programs and activities to its members as well as the surrounding city and state. Its annual Philadelphia Flower Show is the largest and longest-running event of its kind, attracting florists, gardeners, and landscape designers from all over the world. The PHS has also produced many publications over the years, some of which are now available in BHL through the IMLS grant Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature (EABL).
History of the PHS
|The Franklin Institute on South Seventh Street, site of the PHS’s first meeting (from James Boyd’s A History of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 1827-1927)|
|Interior of the first Horticultural Hall (from James Boyd’s A History of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society 1827-1927)|
The 20th century saw the PHS shift to a predominantly amateur membership, which continued to grow with each passing decade. During World War 2, its members were involved in the movement to plant “victory gardens” which could sustain families during a time of scarcity. Writing in the 1945 Yearbook of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Report of the President for the previous year asserted:
By the second half of the 20th century, the amateur-oriented activities of the PHS were clearly reflected in its publications, such as a members’ newsletter that offered gardening tips, brief articles, and book recommendations. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Flower Show continued to grow in size and prominence.
|“Lawn Mowers Can Be Dangerous” from the PHS News, v.1 no.6 (1960)|
The PHS Today
Currently, the PHS boasts a membership of 27,000. The Philadelphia Flower Show continues to be a major event every year, and in keeping with its early activities, the PHS remains heavily involved in creating civic landscapes, improving public parks, and planting community gardens in Philadelphia.
|An exhibit at the 1997 Philadelphia Flower Show|
- Yearbook of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (1925-1998)
- PHS News (v.1-38, 1960-1997)
- Philadelphia Spring Flower Show (1966-1997) [title varies]
- Pennsylvania Gardens (v.1-4 (1937)
- From Seed to Flower: Philadelphia 1681-1876 (1976)
- Bulletin of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (v.1, nos.1-2 (1923))
- The Green Scene (v.1-42, 1972-2014)
- A History of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, 1827-1927 (1929)
- America’s Garden Legacy: A Taste for Pleasure (1978)
Janet Evans, Associate Director of the McLean Library, says, “We made a commitment…to contribute to digitization of horticultural material. I think it’s particularly important in horticulture, because so many of the older serials have never been well indexed, and yet they contain information that is of value to researchers today – historians, biographers, academics in the humanities as well as horticulturists.”
We are grateful to the PHS for their commitment to open access and their efforts to promote horticulture in Pennsylvania and across the world!