University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 2/1996
Filling Philadelphia with flowers

     Internationally known for its splendor, the Philadelphia
Flower Show has carried the promise of springtime each March
since its inception 167 years ago. In new digs this year, the
Flower Show blossomed further still, all under the watchful eye
of Delaware graduate Jane G. Pepper.
     As president of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society since
1981, Pepper, Delaware '76, '78M, manages the Flower Show, the
largest indoor horticultural exhibit in the world. Although she's
a seasoned pro, having been in charge of the annual extravaganza
for 15 years, Pepper says she felt added pressure this year
because it was the show's first at the new Pennsylvania
Convention Center in the heart of Philadelphia.
     Thanks to a lot of hard work and planning, everything went
smoothly. "It was a marvelous experience. The Convention Center
is so beautiful. We had outgrown our old location like a family
outgrows a house," Pepper says of the Philadelphia Civic Center,
where the show had been held for 30 years.
     Flourishing under Pepper's leadership, the Flower Show this
year attracted more than 300,000 visitors, up 40 percent from
last year, as well as some of the world's leading horticulturists
as exhibitors and lecturers.
     The move to larger quarters (10 acres of exhibit space as
compared with the six of years past) gave exhibitors more room to
spread out. As a result, exhibits were very ambitious, Pepper
     Called "This Land Is Your Land, Philadelphia in Flower," the
1996 show celebrated the city's horticultural heritage, a legacy
that Pepper and the Horticultural Society continue to nurture. A
large portion of the Flower Show's $1 million proceeds fund the
society's Philadelphia Green program, an ambitious, ongoing
citywide landscaping project that has grown exponentially under
Pepper's direction. Today, the program helps more than 700
neighborhood groups plant trees and vegetable gardens in low- and
moderate-income neighborhoods.
     With its hand in more than 2,000 gardening projects,
Philadelphia Green is the largest public landscaping program in
the United States, and it serves as a model for similar programs
across the country. "The Flower Show is like a seed that is
planted in the spring and blossoms throughout the city for the
rest of the year," Pepper says. "This is an opportunity to do
something that really is helping Philadelphia."
     Pepper, a native of Scotland who lives in Delaware County
with her husband, G. Willing "Wing" Pepper, is devoted to
Philadelphia. She is a member of the board of managers of the
Pennsylvania Hospital, a board member of the Greater Philadelphia
Chamber of Commerce and a director of PNC Bank. She also writes a
twice-weekly column about gardening in The Philadelphia Inquirer.
     "I think I have the best job in the world. I am incredibly
lucky to have it. It has wonderful dimensions. I love the Flower
Show. And, I love the part about being able to help people in the
city with the money we raise," Pepper says.
     Others share her sentiments. More than 3,500
volunteers-1,500 more than in the past-turned out to help at this
year's Flower Show. The city, its police force and city
businesses also rallied behind the show's move downtown. Museums,
restaurants, hotels and other businesses offered special
discounts during the city's first "Flower Show Week" celebration.
     Recognized as one of the world's leading horticulturists,
Pepper has garnered such recent honors as the Royal Horticultural
Society Gold Veitch Memorial Medal in March 1996 and the Greater
Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Paradigm Award in 1995. Last
year, her name was added to the University of Delaware's Alumni
Wall of Fame, a spot designated to highlight the achievements of
successful graduates.
     Pepper received a bachelor's degree in plant science from
Delaware in 1976. Two years later, she received a master's degree
in ornamental horticulture from the University's Longwood
Graduate Program. This unique, two-year, master of science degree
program, which is offered by the College of Agricultural
Sciences' Department of Plant and Soil Sciences in cooperation
with Longwood Gardens, emphasizes the administration and
management of public gardens. Pepper also has an associate's
degree in landscape design from Temple University.
     Today, she oversees every aspect of the Horticultural
Society's work-from its Flower Show and Philadelphia Green
program to its garden tours, lectures, library, awards programs
and popular Green Scene magazine.
                                  --Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83