W.B. Saul High School's exhibit at the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show. (Courtesy PHS)

Students at the city’s only agricultural sciences magnet did their school proud by earning a gold medal at this year’s Philadelphia Flower Show.

Roxborough’s Walter B. Saul High School has been participating in the show for more than three decades, and each year students select a different color around which to build their exhibit. This year’s pick — electric blue — came from the show theme, said Saul senior Brandon Head.

“It’s ‘Garden Electric,’” Head said, naming the 2023 tagline chosen by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. “What follows with electricity? You see blue.”

At center of the W.B. Saul exhibit is a mannequin in a rich blue gown that transitions from a lace and silk bodice into a skirt made of blooms and blossoms in hues that match the cloth or complement it with bright white and yellow. 

The figure stands beneath a gauze-draped pergola with vines climbing its poles. The structure is surrounded by a brick walkway and steps that lead into terraced gardens filled with flower beds containing daffodils, daisies, asters, and decorative glass globes.  

Overall, the vibe was meant to “place visitors in the middle of a sequined blue garden gala,” per the exhibition placard, inspired by students’ lost opportunities to attend prom during COVID.

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This is the first Flower Show held indoors since the pandemic moved it to FDR Park, and according to organizers, it’s the first such edition where exhibitors could opt to create a large display, between 2,200 and 2,900 square feet. 

But to some attendees, like Saul student Chloe Cantiello, it’s the smaller plots that made the biggest impression. “[One of] the most surprising things was probably the fact that there are a lot more smaller exhibits,” Cantiello said. “Which I think was really nice, because more people get to participate.”

Cantiello was also surprised by how few young people she saw in the crowd, but the imbalance ended up making sense. 

“I feel like older people, they can internalize things a lot better… they kind of think and enjoy things a lot more than younger people,” Cantiello said. “As a young person myself, it’s a lot harder for me to concentrate and enjoy the little things in life.”

Many of the young folks who did attend had a great time. Saul horticulture major Majay Davis-Greaves was wowed by how many different kinds of plant life he saw. 

“I got at least 70 photos, at least, of just flowers. Which I wouldn’t think I would take,” Davis Greaves said. “So yeah, I’m really enjoying myself. I like it.”

View a list of all the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show award winners here.

The central figure in W.B. Saul High School’s exhibit at the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show. (Steve Dixon/WHYY Education)
Description of the W.B. Saul High School’s exhibit at the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show. (Steve Dixon/WHYY Education)
The central figure in W.B. Saul High School’s exhibit at the 2023 Philadelphia Flower Show. (Steve Dixon/WHYY Education)