|The Garden Club of Palm Beach's 2009 GCA Flower Show & Preview Party at the Four Arts
By Augustus Mayhew
Garden Club of Palm Beach members and their guests recently converged on The Society of Four Arts for the traditional preview party that signals the opening of the group's historic weekend flower show. The biennial event sets the standards for artistic and horticultural excellence, broadens appreciation for the aesthetics of flower arrangement, spotlights local conservation efforts and shares the beauty of a show with fellow club members and the public. While the show expresses the group’s passion for gardening, it also highlights the club's ceaseless efforts to restore, improve and protect the quality of the environment through educational programs and civic improvements.
Along with club president, Betsy Matthews, event co-chairs, Cindy Hoyt and Brantley Knowles and preview party co-chairs, Mary Pressly and Sue Strickland, club members that headed various aspects of the show included Susan Ballentine, Merrilyn Bardes, Paula Cook, Vickie Denton, Beth Dowdle, Heather Henry, Carol Flanagan, Elizabeth Garcia, Patti Graebner, Heather Henry, Vicky Hunt, Nancy Murray, Sugar Thebaut, Susan McAllister, Peggy Moore, Jennifer O’Brien, Kit Pannill, Boo Van Ingen, Susan Van Pelt, Mary Webster and Melinda Hassen.
|With the exhibition open to local and national Garden Club of America members, GCA judges determined the following recognitions for horticulture, flower arrangement and botanical jewelry: Mary Webster, Harriet De Waele Puckett Creativity Award; Mary Garrett and Jean Tilghman, Dorothy Vietor Munger Award (arrangement); Leigh Failing, Sandra Baylor Novice Award (arrangement); Susan van Pelt, Catherine Beattie Medal (horticulture); Vicki Denton, Clarissa Willemsen Horticulture Propagation Award: Jean Matthews, Rosie Jones Horticulture Award; Brantley Knowles, Garden Club of America Novice Award (horticulture); and, for its educational exhibit, the Garden Club of Palm Beach received the Ann Lyon Crammond Award and the Marion Thompson Fuller Brown Conservation Award. Best in Show awards went to: Mary Webster for Arrangement; Mary Pressly for Botanical Jewelry; and, Patricia Cook, for Horticulture.
In addition, The Garden Club of Palm Beach made the following awards: Brenda Callaway, Garden Club of Palm Beach Silver Cup for Best Cattleya; Dula Fuller, Best Orchid in Show; Cindy Hoyt, Best Hibiscus in Show; Kit Pannill, Club Sweepstakes Award for most blue ribbons; Brantley Knowles, Best Novice Award (horticulture); Missy Geisler, Best Novice in Orchids Award; Wylene Commander, Best Novice in Par Award, Kit Pannill, JoJo Walton Memorial Trophy; Mary Pressly, Flower Arrangement and Bunny Nelson, small arrangement Memorial Trophy.
|Jane Ylvisaker.||Sally Marks.||Susan Ballentine.|
|Botanical jewelry made its debut at this year's event with Mary Pressly as class consultant. At the recent Philadelphia Flower Show, Mrs. Pressly's botanical charm bracelet received a second place award. Brooches inspired by Pre-Columbian culture and necklaces related to a Treasure Chest were painted, polished or varnished and made to look real with dried plant material. However laudable so many of the show's entrants, I found these artifacts especially eye-catching and of museum-quality, considering I know nothing about jewelry. Take a look inside the Plexi.|
|More than eighty years ago, the island's horticultural enthusiasts held their first meeting in Mrs. John S. Phipps’ living room at Casa Bendita; ever since, the organization has played a vital role in maintaining Palm Beach’s standing as one of the world’s most beautiful resorts. In 1929 the club-sponsored Plan for Palm Beach, designed by the renowned apostles of the City Beautiful Movement, Bennett, Parsons & Frost of Chicago, became not only a vision for Royal Palm Way, the Lake Trail and County Road but also was utilized as a textbook by numerous universities, implemented by other town commissions from Akron to Moscow and was requested for library shelves in California and New York.|
|Now a recognized Garden Club of America (GCA) Flower Show, the club's member-oriented event was once far more elaborate, staged by the island's large estates within the conservatories at the Royal Poinciana Hotel and held in conjunction with the Gardeners' Association of Palm Beach. The 1930 show featured competition from 17 estates, entire miniature gardens were reconstructed and a "country fair" was held, made up from Everglades plant life.
That year, at the west end of the conservatory, Mrs. Henry Rea installed a complete replica of her estate's garden. The following year, shadow boxes and fenced gardens were introduced with Marjorie M. Post and Mona Williams each entering two separate gardens. Butlers once designed lunch and dinner place settings; in 1931, Palm Beach being progressive, a maid, Elizabeth Callen, won third place in the butler's luncheon table division. Following the event, all the flowers were delivered to local hospitals. After the Royal Poinciana Hotel was demolished during the mid-1930s, the Garden Club transplanted the show to the Four Arts where its members had designed year-round demonstration gardens with architectural elements. Most recently, the group, along with Effloressence landscape designer, Alan Stopek, introduced Kaleidoscope Flower Beds, an octet of landscape compositions along Royal Poinciana Way's medians featuring agaves, aloes, kalanchoes and bromeliads.
|The 2009 showcase, Lost Worlds ... Paradise Regained, featured 70 different horticultural classes with blooms and bonsais ranging from the simply splendid to the sensationally superb. Governed and judged according to GCA standards and guidelines, each class was evaluated by different criteria. For instance, foliage plants in Classes 48-49, Novice Class, were judged on their cultural perfection, form, grooming, distinction and color effect; flower arrangements in the Interpretive Design class were evaluated for their conformance, interpretation, design, color harmony and distinction.
Flower arrangement classes were themed around "... lost worlds, lost civilizations and lost cities," including Atlantis, Pompeii, Easter Island, Shangri-La, Pre-Columbian Culture, Port Royal and the proverbial Garden of Eden. So now, sharpen your pencils, it is your turn to judge and enjoy a few of this year's out-of-this-world offerings.
|Easter Island ...|
|Cindy Hoyt's tableaux took on a colorful flair.||Jane Hill and K. C. Morrish offered a fiction that might "... not yet be imagined."|
|The Garden of Eden ...|
|Port Royal, Jamaica ...|
|Before we take a look at some of the horticultural classes, back to the preview party ...|
|Goldie and Allan Stopek.||Bill Davis and Elizabeth Dowdle.|
|Jane Grace.||Per and Rachel Lorentzen with Bobbi Lindsay.|
|Judy Bogges.||Evelyn Harrison.||Kae Johnson.|
|Mary Webster and Katie Pressly.||Jane Eberly and Dru Case.|
|Sterling Davis and Mary Hamner, president of the Mt. Desert Garden Club.||Mr. and Mrs. Peter Hill.|
|A view of the show's horticultural classes ...|
|Polly Reed's winning oncidium seen at one
of the center tables.
|A magnificent orchid with countless blooms.
|A sculptural succulent propagated by Betsy Matthews.
||Mickey Tracy's First-Award winner.|
|Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.|