Garden tours can offer some novel gardening goalsThe American Association of University Women has for many years sponsored a July garden tour in Jamestown. Jamestown’s Prairie Rose Garden Club members give tours of individual gardens on a regular basis during growing season, and join in with Valley City’s Sheyenne Valley Garden Club members to attend and participate in that group’s accredited, standard flower show each year (since 1983). The gardens are examples of, and the shows promote, seeding, harvesting, planting, caring and enjoying any type flower, plant, shrub or tree.
By: Sharon Cox, The Jamestown Sun
The American Association of University Women has for many years sponsored a July garden tour in Jamestown. Jamestown’s Prairie Rose Garden Club members give tours of individual gardens on a regular basis during growing season, and join in with Valley City’s Sheyenne Valley Garden Club members to attend and participate in that group’s accredited, standard flower show each year (since 1983). The gardens are examples of, and the shows promote, seeding, harvesting, planting, caring and enjoying any type flower, plant, shrub or tree.
When we attend a flower show or go on a garden tour, the specimens we see sometimes look too lovely to be real. Our mouths drop open and in mass, there’s an audible “oooos” and “aahs.” Those who do the planting and upkeep understand. That’s why those gardens are on tour and why that specimen is being shown. It’s exceptional. It is the best of the best and meant to impress.
Garden tours show lovely gardens, and flower shows display the finest specimens for that season. Members who grow in order to take a horticultural entry in a standard flower show have rules they must follow. Plants must be grown by the person entering the specimen first of all, and the branch or stem must be of a given height, variety, color, name or type as described in the show’s rules. Horticultural divisions are broken into sections for perennials, annuals, shrubs, evergreens and individual flowering specimens. Vegetables have their own division as do potted plants. Not all standard shows have all those divisions, because some vegetables, for example, are entered during harvest and not during lush growth season.
Individual plant societies, for flowers like roses, hemerocallis (daylilies), true lilies, spring bulbs, African violets, dahlias, etc have specific rules describing how each specimen must be presented for competition and for winning a ribbon in a standard show. If a person entering the standard show is an accredited garden club member, then the award he or she receives will be an official garden club affiliated ribbon. If not, then they will receive a ribbon of appropriate color (white, yellow, red and blue or tricolor, tan, green etc for accredited section winners) for the entry.
The artistic division is for flower arrangements and table settings. They are made using a theme, specific flowers or types of plant materials inside the container. A niche or a table is provided and the designer treats it like a picture frame. Rules are given for all planning to enter. Tricolor, distinction and a number of individual sections can be assigned. All have theme names.
Tricolor competitions are the highest honor in decorative divisions. All fresh plant material is difficult to shape into creative designs. Line material is usually shaped using grasses, branches or longer stems. Proving a branch is fresh means making sure it shows leaves or opening buds. Long stems can be woven, bent, wrapped and curled almost like ribbons. Branches can be “started” in warm water and finished in cold so they hold an emerging bud opening. Distinction implies all dried plant material. No artificially colored material is permitted unless allowed in the rules.
Flowers in designs or for show need special hardening before transporting to a show. They need to be kept cool and the ends cut under water and kept there until time for the show. Warm weather is a flower arrangement’s enemy. Keeping it all cool usually means a lot of ice cubes and a very cold vehicle to transport everything.
And if the design is done at home and then transported, the designer risks everything falling apart on the road. The logistics of transporting a flower arrangement is perhaps the greatest art of all. It doesn’t matter how the design looks at home, if it’s flat on the back seat when you get to the show, it’s a failure.
So as you go to the flower show in Valley City on July 16, or walk through one of the lovely garden tours, keep in mind the examples you are seeing are the best of the best and you too can make and grow designs and gardens equal to the beauty you are viewing.
If anyone has an item for this column, please send to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.