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"Strange Beauties" Exhibition at Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Sunday Nov 6, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's McLean Library, located on the first floor of PHS headquarters, 20th and Arch Streets, will house a plant exhibition, "Strange Beauties," beginning Oct. 31 and continuing through Dec. 2.

The free exhibition will feature unusual and intriguing succulents and cacti from around the world, from the arid landscapes of Mexico to the Spiny Forest of Madagascar. Many specimens are being grown at Meadowbrook Farm, the estate and garden center operated by PHS in Abington Township.

Succulents are excellent plants for the home. "Many succulents can survive in less than full sun and are good for windowsill growing," explains John Story, of Meadowbrook Farm. "There are easy-to-grow types for the beginner, as well as more challenging genera for the advanced hobbyist. Many succulents can easily survive if you go on vacation for a week or so, given the proper size pot and the right soil." Story will display many of his own plants in the exhibition.

Visitors to the "Strange Beauties" exhibition will have opportunities to learn how to grow succulents and get involved with other gardeners who share a passion for the plants. Complementary presentations will include "How to Grow Healthy Succulent Plants," with garden writer and horticulturist Ray Rogers, on Nov. 2, noon to 1 p.m.; and "PHS Plant Clinic: Succulents," with Master Gardener Robin Potter, on Nov. 16, noon to 1 p.m. Videos about the plants will also be on view through the run of the show.

The exhibition will be open to the public during the McLean Library's regular weekday hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Many succulents can survive in less than full sun and are good for windowsill growing."

An open house at PHS to see the exhibition will be held Nov. 2, 5 to 8 p.m. An evening lecture, "Living on the Edge: Orchids and Conservation in Amazonia," will also be presented that night from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission to the lecture is $10 PHS members, $20 non-members. Admission to the "Strange Beauties" exhibition is free, and a wine and cheese reception will be held in the library at 5 p.m.

Examples of beautiful cacti and succulents will be available for purchase throughout the run of "Strange Beauties," and will culminate with a closing plant sale on Dec. 2.

The exhibition will include "green roof" plants, those low-maintenance succulents often used on roofs to reduce storm water runoff and cut energy costs. PHS and the city of Philadelphia are co-hosting an international gathering, "CitiesAlive: 9th Annual Green Roof and Wall Conference," on Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. For information about the conference, visit .

The succulent exhibition is the first in a new series of plant shows in the McLean Library, harkening back to PHS's history of mounting small exhibitions, such as orchid, bulb and rose shows, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The exhibitions will help PHS members and the public connect with the McLean Library in new ways.

For more information about "Strange Beauties," call 215-988-8772, or visit


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