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At the beginning of December Cadillac Garden Club held its annual Christmas House Tour. Here are some photos of the designs in the house the team I worked on created. The purpose is to add fresh plant material in addition to the home owner’s Christmas decorations.
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Winning exhibit Horticulture Division, class 18 Combination Planting grown for foliage

Winning exhibit Horticulture Division, class 18 Combination Planting grown for foliage

I was included in one of several panels of judges for the flower show at the Lansing Home and Garden Show taking place this weekend (March 14-17) in the MSU Pavilion. After being treated to a buffet luncheon at the University Club, all the judges went to the show’s location to judge. We had to finish before 3 pm as the show opened then.

I’ve judged this show before, but this one was one of the best flower shows I’ve seen in a long time. The entire area was like stepping into grandma’s attic; and then their were the exhibits. It’s not easy to do horticulture when spring hasn’t even arrived. The mainstay of course was houseplants and forced branches, but the examples were well presented and numerous.

A few of the Horticulture Exhibits:

Horticulture Division class 1 Forced non-hardy bulb

Horticulture Division class 1 Forced non-hardy bulb

Horticulture Division class 4 Cut specimen from bulb plant

Horticulture Division class 4 Cut specimen from bulb plant

Horticulture Division "Orchidaceae"

Horticulture Division “Orchidaceae”

Horticultural Division Flowering Container Plants

Horticultural Division Flowering Container Plants

Horticulture Division Crassulaceae

Horticulture Division Crassulaceae

Horticulture Division "Indoor Specialties" exhibits 6 to 15 years old

Horticulture Division “Indoor Specialties” exhibits 6 to 15 years old

A few of the Design Exhibits:
Design Division Miniature & Small Designs "Game Pieces" not to exceed 5"

Design Division Miniature & Small Designs “Game Pieces” not to exceed 5″

Design Division Miniature & Small "Knick Knacks" not to exceed 8"

Design Division Miniature & Small “Knick Knacks” not to exceed 8″

Design Division "Day Dreaming" table for 1 with Horticultural Arboreal exhibits in background

Design Division “Day Dreaming” table for 1 with Horticultural Arboreal exhibits in background

Design Division Table Artistry "Childhood Friend" functional table for two

Design Division Table Artistry “Childhood Friend” functional table for two

Design Division "Sports Memories" creative design

Design Division “Sports Memories” creative design

A few of the Special Exhibits
Special Exhibits -- Educational  "History of American Floral Design" showing traditional designs.

Special Exhibits — Educational “History of American Floral Design” showing traditional designs.

Special Exhibits Artistic Crafts "Notions & Necklaces" creating a necklace from plant materials

Special Exhibits Artistic Crafts “Notions & Necklaces” creating a necklace from plant materials

Special Exhibits Artistic Crafts "Buttons & Bows" hat decorated with plant material

Special Exhibits Artistic Crafts “Buttons & Bows” hat decorated with plant material

Special Exhibits Division -- Artistic Design "Party Shoes" decorated with plant material

Special Exhibits Division — Artistic Design “Party Shoes” decorated with plant material

The first Saturday of the last twelve Decembers, Cadillac Garden Club has sponsored their Christmas Home Tour. For teams of members decorate four homes with fresh plant material to ‘enhance’ the homeowner’s decor. Most of the houses go all out. The tour lasts from 10 AM to 3 PM and a couple hundred people take the tour.

I find it amazing how many years have passed. I can’t even remember all the homes I’ve contributed to or the designs I’ve made. This year our house had a Scandinavian theme and our colors were red, white, green, and straw.

We set up on Friday. I painted a gourd ahead of time and the intent was to create a flower beard and hair from mums. However, no one thought I should put holes through Santa’s face, so he ended up with a floral design on the back of his head. I guess I’ll have to try the flower beard and mustache at home and see how it goes.

Santa guord

Santa guord

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I also did this table design.
Saturday Bill and I toured the homes. Each was very different and each team of members created styles unique for the house’s theme. We enjoyed our tour.

Armature form design

Tuesday and Wednesday the 51st Michigan Flower Symposium was held in Kalamazoo. I dithered hadn’t planned on attending or not, remaining a flower show judge or not, but a couple emails changed my mind and I went.

David Robson from Illinois gave an informative and interesting program on ferns. I love ferns but my soil is too dry to grow them except for the wild parts of the property, too far from the house. Maidenhair and Ostrich ferns grow wild out there. An excellent speaker, David kept the audience’s attention.

Reflective design

Wednesday Charlene Mutchler, a very experienced floral design instructor, took over the program. She talked about and showed examples of the new armature form design, reflective, creative abstract, and multi-rhythmic designs. She has the symposium order the flowers and then designs from what components, vases, etc. the symposium can provide.

Multi-rhythmic design

Hopefully I passed the two point scoring exams on horticulture and floral design so this will be the last one I have to do that particular chore.

Table Flowers

A Winter Table Arrangement

Making floral arrangements is one of my hobbies, one of the reasons I became interested in gardening. The forms, colors, textures, and scents bring me such emotional pleasure. Every time I make one, I wonder why I chose this particular flower. The pictured arrangement was for a Christmas home tour, and I know I wanted a frosty winter feeling, so white roses just seemed natural.

I”m sure you have noticed how flowers are used in all our celebrations and ceremonies. We use flowers at church services, weddings, and funerals. Parties, banquets, and guests coming for dinner require floral centerpieces. We send congratulations with flowers. A blanket of red roses covers the derby winner, and Miss America also receives red roses when crowned. We give sympathy and condolences with flowers. Everyone receives flowers when grieving, or while in the hospital, or for the celebration of a birthday, new home, new job, or retirement. Every holiday has its plant or floral association. The only ceremonies I can think of that don’t are baptisms and graduation, but perhaps that oldish custom of corsages?

Florists are correct when they say we celebrate with flowers, and they certainly encourage us to spend freely. And while many arrangements have changed to plastic or silk flowers, nothing gives such pleasure as fresh flowers; still, why flowers? The giving of flowers and their use in all our rituals comes from ancient customs, usages so lost in time its roots are forgotten. Certainly in the beginning flowers symbolized fertility, but slowly the meaning evolved to encompass much more.

That flowers were used in the most ancient of burial rites is known. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans celebrated with flowers, as did the ancient oriental cultures. Victorians codified the meaning of flowers, probably based on much earlier usages.

Everyone probably knows the rose represents love and the lily purity. These two flowers have been tied to mythology since Cleopatra slept on a rose-stuffed pillow. According to the Victorians, different colored roses told different messages. While the red rose said ‘I love you,’ the yellow rose spoke of infidelity. In today’s flower meanings, sending red and yellow roses in a mixed bouquet means ‘congratulations.’

If you want to find all the meanings, just get on the Internet and type in ‘flower meanings,’ or ‘flower language.’ Some have to have been recently devised. Who knew giving bells of Ireland meant you wished the receiver good luck? Or that a cactus plant represented giving endurance? And how did the cattail come to represent peace and prosperity? It’s all very confusing.

Flower usage changes over time. For many years white gladiolus were funeral flowers, now it’s the calla lily. I’ve seen calla lilies used in more weddings recently, too. Roses and carnations were traditional wedding flowers, but now anything the bride wants is used, often orchids, but occasionally even more exotic selections like bird of paradise.

If you pluck a daffodil blooming in your garden and give it to someone, it can tell of your regard, or of your unrequited love, or that individual is the only one for you. However, in mythology, Narcissus was a young man who saw his own reflection in a pool and fell so deeply in love with his image he stared at it until he turned into a flower. Narcissism is not a good quality to have and yet Narcissus is the botanical name of the wonderful daffodil genus. Send daffodils and you might be giving a mixed message.

Perhaps it’s better to just forget the language of flowers and give a bouquet of daffodils with the simple idea of bringing some springtime sun into someone’s day, or place flowers on the Christmas table to let your family or guests realize this meal is a very special occasion, so mind your manners, enjoy the company and food, and reflect upon the true beauty of the world as displayed in flowers.

Merry Christmas! (Put some flowers on the table!)

Steel horse sculpture at Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park

October 2, a beautiful sunny Sunday in October, several ladies and I completed our plans for a Tri-Refresher for Michigan Garden Clubs and District 4 in conjunction with the Central Region (7 states) Meeting. Tri-Refreshers allow garden club members to refresh their consultant credentials in Landscape Design, Garden Study, or Environmental Studies — or all three if they are master level in each. We started off a the spectacular Frederick Meijer Botanical and Sculpture Gardens on the north Beltline.

After lunch we went to the Bunker Interpretive Center at Calvin College south of the gardens. Their specialty is green building and using native plants to landscape. Great learning center, and the restrooms had composting toilets! (I didn’t take a photo of those!)

Tropical Atrium at Frederick Meijer Gardens

Cactus Atrium at Frederick Meijer Gardens

Native plants landscape the front of the Bunker Intrepretive Center.

At the recent judge’s symposium in Ann Arbor the instructors were great.

Horticulture instructor lectured about Heuchera and Moon Gardens, both interesting subjects. I came home with a strong desire to find better spots for my poor, struggling coral bells, and explore the internet for Heuchera capable of growing in my area. Most seem to be very cold tolerant, and like sharp drainage, so I should be able to find some great cultivars.

Symposium design June 2010

Symposium design June 2010

Instructor's design

Our design instructor talked about texture and form in design. Her designs were all wonderful, as were the practice point scoring designs. Now, if I passed the two point scoring exams, I’ll remain a flower show judge in good standing.

Meeting friends who are flower show judges from around the state is the added benefit to attending symposiums and workshops, as well as getting to know others in our group better.

Practice Point Scoring Design

Practice Point Scoring Design

Whew! Two weeks and six garden walks in Northern Michigan. Who knows how many in the rest of the state. I, sadly, couldn’t go to all of them. The weather wasn’t extremely hot, matter of fact, it was a little on the cool side. Charlevoix Area G.C. had a bunch of beautiful gardens on their walk, and it is a gorgeous area of Michigan. My Morning Glory’s G.C. stopped for lunch and again at end of day for pies, fresh cherries and jams.

I helped judged the Friendly G.C. of Traverse City’s garden walk. The club treated the judges to lunch at El Dorado on main street, T.C. before the walk. More than I could eat. The five gardens were each distinct but all showed the loving care of a dedicated gardener. Each deserved an award.

Of course, the garden I scored highest didn’t win, but that’s why you have three judges.

Traverse City garden entrance

Traverse City garden entrance



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