Palm Beach Social Diary

The sublime spectacle of this weekend’s museum-quality Garden Club of Palm Beach biennial GCA Flower Show appears to have rivaled Mother Nature’s incomparable aesthetic. Rather than being inspired by some distant Shangri-La, The Garden Club opted to reflect on its own backyard, the historic demonstration gardens the organization established at The Society of the Four Arts. Above, Christina Benisch won a First Award for this floral arrangement based on the Chinese Garden.
The Garden Club of Palm Beach presents GCA Biennial Flower Show
By Augustus Mayhew

The Garden Club of Palm Beach welcomed more than 200 guests to Friday night’s preview party for the civic group’s much-anticipated biennial exhibit, Behind the Garden Wall ... a Master Plan, A GSA Flower Show, staged at The Society of the Four Arts’ Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery.  The show’s theme and the various competitive classes reflected on the conceptual and aesthetic elements of The Four Arts demonstration gardens, originally designed and planted by Garden Club members in 1938 and supplemented by a Master Plan in 1954. 

Mary Pressly and Gay Lehman served as the show’s co-chairwomen; Patt Sned and Sue Strickland headed up the specifics for Friday night’s preview party.

“We have many to thank and would like to mention Betsy Matthews, who served as head of the flower arranging entries as well as Mary Webster and Jane Foster for their very helpful ideas with the Flower Arranging Class and with the show’s graphic design,” said Mary Pressly, event co-chair.  Of special note, judges’ chairman Nancy Murray is also chair for the Garden Club of America’s committee producing a book celebrating GCA's centennial.  
The Garden Club recreated its own garden within the Esther B. O’Keeffe Gallery for the exhibition’s thematic framework. Above, I Ho Yuan, the Moongate that opens onto the Chinese Garden was the focal point of the central gallery.
Members serving as chairs for the show’s various divisions included Vickie Denton, Vicky Hunt, Jennifer O'Brien, and Jean Matthews.  In addition, members who played key roles in facilitating the show were Merrilyn Bardes, Paula Cook, Annette Dowell, Leigh Failing, Jane Foster, Patti Graebner, Melinda Hassen, Heather Henry, Kathy Klaine, Sally Marks, Susan McAllister, Ginny Parker, Sugar Thebaut, Ann Vanneck, Susan Van Pelt, and Alex Woodfield.

Along with the show’s traditional spotlight on conservation, horticulture, flower arrangement, and botanical jewelry, the Garden Club is introducing a new competition, photography.  Garden club member Jennifer O’Brien is class consultant and chair of the photography division featuring competitive classes in the following divisions: Garden Pathways, Force of Nature and Room with a View. “The photography category has been a popular addition to other GCA shows,” said Cindy Hoyt, the club’s president. “Our members have entered their photographs at other GCA shows and this enables us to showcase the work of GCA members from out of our area in our flower show,” added Hoyt.  

Here is a glimpse of the show, the preview party, and a browse through the actual Four Arts gardens.
“Chop-Chop.” Sensational! Mary Pressly garnered nearly every award for this Best-in-Show arrangement. Along with the Harriet DeWaele Puckett Creativity Award, Mary also received the Rosie Jones Horticulture Award and the GCA Novice Award for Horticulture.
David and Mary Pressly. Gay Lehman was co-chair of the Flower Show.
Patt Sned was co-chair for Friday evening’s preview party. Susan Van Pelt and Hope Annan.
Dudley and Peggy Moore.
Patrick and Heather Henry.
Robert Nederlander and Pat Cook. Brantley Knowles.
“Tang Duo.” A noteworthy arrangement by Jane Grace, Joan Van der Grift, and Katie Pressly.
Above: Jane Foster garnered an Honorable Mention for this Formal Garden arrangement.

Right: I thought this was architecturally sensational; a Third Award for Susie Ballentine in the Formal Garden division.

Below: The O’Keeffe Gallery was once again a spectacular setting for the Flower Show.
Botanical Jewelry
An amusing centipede by Christina Benisch worthy of an Honorable Mention. This elegant eyecatcher was crafted from edamame, black peppercorns, basmati rice, and natural Israeli couscous.
Sugar Thebaut’s “The Boyzzzz are back in town” won a Best-In-Show Award in the botanical jewelry special division.
Sugar Thebault’s recipe for her award-winning “The Boyzzz are back in town.”
Sugar Thebault. Susan Harris and Samantha Crawford.
Anne Pepper, Emmie Wolbach, and Charles Pepper.
Regine Traulsen and Bill Diamond. Cecie and Rod Titcomb.
Weegie Antle, Beth Dowdle, and Polly Reed.
Boo Oelsner and Carol Flanagan. Sue Strickland.
Christine and Louise Aylward.
Betsy and George Matthews. Vicky Hunt.
Bob Vila and Diana Barrett.
Richard and Jackie Cowell.
The GCA Novice Award was given to Alexandra Reynolds for this marvelous arrangement.
Mary Webster is again in her own incomparable class with this artful arrangement.
Ginny Parker won a First Award for this creation in the Jungle Garden division.
Sugar Thebault’s “Tea in the Garden” interpretation of the Moonlight Garden won her a First Award.
… among the pots and garden beds.
The center hall at the O’Keeffe Gallery.
A First Award for Polly Reed’s pair of cacti.
Connie Geisler’s pair of euphorbia received the Clarissa Willemsen Horticulture Propagation Award. A climbing onion received an award for Hawley McAuliffe of the Grass Key Garden Club.
A succulent took a Second Award for Melinda Hassen. Melinda Hassen also served as publicity chair for the event.
Susan Hemmes. Sally Marks.
Barry and Cindy Hoyt. President of the Garden Club of Palm Beach, Cindy Hoyt received an award in the flower arrangement division.
… across the street at The Society of the Four Arts demonstration gardens.
Weary of ficus hedges? Discover the Four Arts Gardens located at Cocoanut Row and Royal Palm Way.
A well-designed brochure was produced by The Garden Club of Palm Beach. The entrance to the demonstration gardens.
The Fragrant Moonlight Garden
The plaque is set in the Moonlight Garden where a garden bench provides a restful spot.
The Chinese Garden
The Chinese Garden’s focal point is a pond afloat with reeds and lotus blossoms.
A contemplative statue is set along the east wall.
The Spanish Façade Garden
The Spanish garden was designed by Margarita Grace Phipps.
Decorative tile, wrought iron, coral stones, and linen-fold doors make for cohesive additions to a Spanish-styled landscape.
The Formal Garden
A southerly view across the Formal Garden onto the Tropical Garden and Royal Palm Way beyond.
The Formal Garden’s westerly view is walled with bamboo.
The Formal Garden offers a neo-classical landscape with a bust of Lord Croton. A walkway between the Formal Garden and the Palm Garden.
With temperatures reaching 95 degrees, the orchids were blooming.
The sausage tree, kigelia pinnata, forms a massive canopy within the Tropical Garden.
The sausage tree is the highlight of the Tropical Garden. The Kikuyu tribesmen use the tree’s cylindrical fruit to make beer.
The Madonna Garden.
The garden has an array of colorful exotic plants.
Spring in Palm Beach.
… back at the Preview Party.
A view of the Main Gallery from the O’Keeffe’s entrance hall.
Kit Pannill’s orchids won cups, ribbons and special awards. She was bestowed the Horticulture division’s Best In Show, the Club’s Sweepstakes Award, the GC of PB’s Silver Cup, Best Orchid, and the Bunny duPont Hibiscus Award.
Vickie Denton’s magnificent orchid caught my eye.
David and Jean Rosow.
Elizabeth Garcia. Susan and Rip McIntosh.
Susan McIntosh received the Catherine Beattie Medal for her sculptural apocynaceae pachypodum.
An artful tableau.
Vickie Denton’s First Award.
Merrilyn Bardes received the JoJo Watson Memorial Trophy.
Ann Vanneck’s First Award rose is the one on the lower left.
A lyrical ensemble.
“Joyful moment!” Bill Pannill’s First Award in the new photography class.
A First Award for a unique perspective from the front porch at Sea Gull Cottage by Jean Matthews.
A butterfly by Joan Van der Grift.
Koi aswim in the Bromeliad Garden.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.

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