Everything Coming Up Roses

The largest flower show in the country can be found in Philadelphia, and it marks its 175th anniversary this year.

The Early Show correspondent Melinda Murphy will be right in the middle of the blooms with a look at some of the rarest and most beautiful flowers in their classes.

To help put a little perspective on how long the Philadelphia Flower Show has been in existence, remember that Andrew Jackson was president and the railroad steam engine had just been invented in 1929 when the first show was held. The flower show has survived the depression and a whole lot more, which is why organizers have pulled out all the stops to make this year the biggest and best yet.

Daffodils and hyacinths can be found almost everywhere, but the real stars of this year's Philadelphia flower show are the orchids -- one of the largest collections ever assembled.

The show has about 100 to 120 blooms of orchids, all the more impressive when you realize orchids take years to grow. Some orchids even date back to the 1800s. And, there are rare orchids that cost about $1,000 a plant.

Most orchids, however, cost about $30. Even so, there's more than $200,000 worth of orchids at the Philly show. And, that's just one corner of this magnificent garden.

For the past week, gardeners have been moving what seems like heaven and earth to bring these 10 acres to life.

Sandra McMillin brought some of her backyard all the way from Florida, and she ran into an ice storm along the way.

"We had to haul all the plants into our hotel room at night," says McMillin. "It was a lot of work."

McMillin explains she trekked to Philadelphia because it has the biggest and best flower show in the nation.

It is why the Philadelphia flower show attracts such a wide variety of people , including a high school class working on an entryway exhibit.

"I just find it a very interesting way of spending my time," says Harriton High School Club President Benjamin Madway. "It's just a really nice way of expressing a creative side of yourself."

The show hosts competitions in which pros and amateurs alike vie in a variety of categories -- everything from miniatures to terraces to table settings. But, there's one defending champ who will be tough to beat.

When it comes to dunking it in the hanging basket competition, a 175-pound cactus is no lightweight.

"This plant has been entered as long as I can remember -- for at least 10 years," says Clarence Wurts. "I would guess that it's won every year it's been down here. And it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger."

That plant's probably seen a lot of changes over time. So, has Jane Pepper.

"When I started 20 years ago, it was daffodils, tulips and azaleas, things that you would see in your garden in early spring," says Pepper. "Now, it's all sorts of plants we enjoy in late summer. So, you see the whole spectrum of a growing season."

It's all thanks to forcing -- using heat and light to trick a plant into blooming when you want it to. The results are nothing short of breathtaking.
  • Rome Neal

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