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Learning from Philadelphia

Philadelphia is the world’s leader in urban regeneration through horticulture. On the evening of Monday 20th May we will welcome Matt Rader, President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to tell us how their annual spring show, begun in 1829 by gentleman farmers, drove the re-greening a city.  In the 1970s, the Society decided to invest proceeds from the show into the city on the doorstep at a period of industrial decline and social change.

Matt will show us how since then the Society has turned more than 12,000 vacant lots into green spaces and community gardens, planted over half a million trees, created jobs for ex-offenders, and engaged community organisations – from churches to drug rehabilitation programmes – all fueled by proceeds of an annual floral extravaganza and generous public and private support.

Matt will give a presentation followed by a Q&A chaired by Christopher Woodward, Garden Museum Director, who writes:

‘I’ve wanted to learn more about Philadelphia ever since interviewing Matt and his colleagues for the Financial Times. At first it seemed to good to be true. Can a Flower Show really transform a city? Yes, it can. At a time when Councils have less and less money for parks, Philadelphia is an inspiration. There is nothing like Philadelphia’s story in Britain, or Europe. Matt Rader, an expert in urban development, is over for the Chelsea Flower Show and we’re lucky to have grabbed him for Monday night’.

Supported by the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.
This event is part of the Chelsea Fringe

Speaker Bios

  • Matt Rader

    Matt Rader

    Matt Rader is the 37th President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Matt is focused on deepening and expanding PHS’s efforts to use horticulture to advance the greater good in the Greater Philadelphia Region and beyond. PHS is focused on engaging everyone in using horticulture to advance four impact priorities – deepening social connections, creating more livable environments, expanding access to fresh food, and increasing economic opportunity. PHS creates impact by educating and engaging gardeners as partners, working in 250 neighborhoods, offering a network of free-to-all public gardens and landscapes, and producing the landmark Philadelphia Flower Show.

    Gardens and landscapes have shaped Matt’s life. He has lived and worked in magnificent landscapes from the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania to Stowe Landscape Garden, the University of Virginia, Monticello, and Fairmount Park. He combines a passion for horticulture with a deep love for historic preservation and cities.
    Matt grew up in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor’s in Architectural History from the University of Virginia and Master’s of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Center City Philadelphia with his partner Michael Smith, a conductor and organist.