Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Flower Power: The Philadelphia Flower Show Kicks The Winter Blues – It’s a Fact!

The annual Philadelphia Flower Show is a staple of spring time in the city. I know so many people who look forward to this event every year, including myself. I’ve always wondered about the almost addictive attraction of this wonderful show. I knew there had to be something more to it than just a lovely evening at the convention center…

A little Googling later, I found a study conducted by Rutgers psychologist Jeannette Haviland-Jones. Her paper entitled “An Environmental Approach to Positive Emotion: Flowers” was published in Evolutionary Psychology in 2005. Haviland-Jones concluded that “Flowers have immediate and long-term effects on emotional reactions, mood, social behaviors and even memory for both males and females...cultivated flowers are rewarding because they have evolved to rapidly induce positive emotion in humans.” Her paper puts some scientific reasoning behind the almost unexplainable mood booster of being surrounded by flowers.

I wanted to verify my finding so I decided to call the sponsor of the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Philadelphia Horticulture Society, to do some additional investigating. I spoke with their PR manager, Alan Jaffe, about the study and it seems as though the horticultural society has never heard of Haviland-Jones’ paper. However, they already reached the same conclusion without any scientific research. Jaffe told me people come to the Philadelphia Flower Show to “escape the winter humdrum and embrace spring…the flowers bring a surge of energy and optimism.” I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

Why do you visit the Flower Show? Why do you think flowers make us feel better?

The 2010 Philadelphia International Flower Show takes place from February 28th through March 7th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. See you there!

Tom Murtaugh

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  1. Tom,

    Great post. "The Winter Blues" is a phrase that gets kicked around an awful lot. For those who are unfamiliar, in the mental health field, the winter blues is officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The Mental Health Association of New Jersey published a great fact sheet on SAD in one of their online newsletters. You can find the list here:

    Thanks Tom. As a Philly native (now living in Northern Jersey) I know all about the allure of the flower show. Keep up the good work.

  2. Great SAD link, Tim! Hope you make it back to the city for the flower show. Thanks for your comment!