Part of the joy of being a member of a garden club is growing plants and creating mixed plantings for horticulture competitions. With Renee Shamosh, I’m a horticulture co-chair of the Garden Club of Irvington-on-Hudson, NY (GCI), which in turn is a member of the Garden Club of America (GCA). Every year, the GCA hosts an annual meeting in a different U.S. city, where delegates attend workshops and visit local botanical gardens. A highlight of the meeting is the flower show, a competition of displays of flower arrangements, potted plants, and cut stems that are judged by horticultural experts.
This year’s annual meeting was held in Rochester, NY from May 16-18, and the theme was “Kaleidoscope.” Every garden club in New York State was required to design and enter a container planting with a specific color scheme — either yellow-orange, pink-red, or blue-purple — presented in a 14-inch terra-cotta-colored pot filled with plants owned for club members for no less than three months, i.e, no going to the garden center and buying perfect plants a few days before the show.
GCI chose blue-purple. Beginning last fall, Renee and I approached the competition as a club project, with members rooting cuttings and planting bulbs. Over the last few weeks, all of us combed our gardens for blue-flowering plants. The harsh winter and late spring added to the challenge.
The planting was designed by Renee, Donghai Zhen, and me. Thirteen club members grew and contributed plants including amsonia, blue chalk fingers, Cape primrose, comfrey, dwarf blue cypress, evolvulus, forget-me-nots, phlox, streptocarpus, ‘super blue’ pericallis, and wood hyacinths. Club president Susan Weisenberg contributed the bearded irises, the centerpiece of the arrangement.
The judges awarded our entry a first-place blue ribbon as well as the Rosie Jones Horticulture Award for: “An entry of exceptional visual appeal that reflects the spirit of growing with joy and enthusiasm and inspires others to propagate, grow, show and share horticulture.”
The entry was accompanied by a “key card,” which lists the botanical and common names of the plants and indicating their relative position in the container.