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Philly Flower Show brings art to life

| Sunday, March 2, 2014, 7:28 p.m.

Winter-weary gardeners and painters alike may find inspiration in the colorful palette of the Philadelphia Flower Show, which uses plants and petals to pay homage to work by artists like Matisse, Calder and Kandinsky.

The main exhibitors partnered with major U.S. museums to produce “ART iculture,” this year's floral extravaganza which opened March 1 and runs through March 9.

A perennial harbinger of spring, the flower show will be, perhaps, more fervently welcomed this season after the toll of an unusually cold and snowy winter along the Eastern Seaboard.

“Living in the Northeast ... everyone is so sick of snow that coming in and seeing color, and seeing the flower show, it's going to be a welcome respite this year,” said Drew Becher, president of the show's sponsor, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

Schaffer Designs of Philadelphia partnered with the Guggenheim Museum in New York to come up with “Kandinsky's Canvas,” a floral representation of three abstract paintings by Wassily Kandinsky: “Circles in a Circle,” “Little Accents” and “Dominant Curve.”

The “circles” have been transformed into colorful balls of carnations and other plant material. They look randomly placed until viewers stand on a premarked spot and see them a through an empty picture frame.

“They will actually see the painting come to life as it was originally meant to be,” designer Bill Schaffer said.

The show's colorful entrance garden pays tribute to Alexander Calder, a sculptor and painter whose work can be found throughout the city. Visitors are greeted by a huge floral mobile and three oversized picture frames, the largest measuring 30 feet high by 50 feet wide. The aerial dance troupe Bandaloop will perform regularly within the display.

Rarely seen prints from Andy Warhol's “Flowers” series, from the Bank of America Collection, will also be displayed.

Billed as the world's largest indoor flower show, the Philadelphia Flower Show dates to 1829. It also includes plant judging, a butterfly garden and craft workshops.

Attendance will be watched after last year's ticket sales fell 17 percent from 2012. Organizers said many groups canceled as a result of overhyped weather forecasts for snow, which never materialized. About 270,000 visitors came to the show in 2012.

The Philadelphia Flower Show runs through March 9 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 12th and Arch streets, Philadelphia. Admission is $15 to $32. Details:

Kathy Matheson is a staff writer for the Associated Press.

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