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‘A Party In The Garden’ Standard Flower Show Offered Festive Displays And Special Exhibits

Published: May 7, 2017

April 25 was a great day to be a member of The Garden Club of Newtown if your name happened to be Peg.
The club was presenting a special three-day standard flower show, “A Party in The Garden,” and many members were pleased to find ribbons waiting for them at the conclusion of the judging period that morning.

Judges had spent more than two hours carefully considering nearly 200 entries, all carefully put on view within the grand corridor of Newtown Municipal Center.

But it was two women who shared the same given name who really went home happy.

Just past noon, Garden Club President Peg Townsend was walking past one of the tables with displays and started to say, “Every time I was past this table there are more ribbons —” when she stopped in her tracks and exclaimed, “Oh my gosh!”

While she was chatting with friends a few minutes earlier, Federated Garden Club judges had placed a distinct rosette of gold ribbons next to Ms Townsend’s Pool Party design entry. Finding that award next to her design, which had already claimed an Award of Design Excellence, denoting the highest scoring exhibit in the entire Design Division of the show entered by a single exhibitor, stunned Ms Townsend.

Pool Party was a class within Section A, of Division II: Design, and challenged entrants to create an underwater design staged on half a 6-foot table, elevated by a 13-inch by 11-inch by 8-inch box covered in white fabric.

Ms Townsend presented a simple cylindrical vase with clear glass beads in its base, and filled the vase with a mini calla lily, ginger, lily grass, and Aspisdistra leaves.

Meanwhile, in the Horticulture section set up in the northern hallway, Peg Jepsen was recovering from a surprise of her own.

“What??!” was her response when Garden Club member and Standard Flower Show Chair Deb Osborne handed her an Award of Horticultural Excellence. The rosette of green, orange, and blue ribbons, denoting the named exhibit judged to be the finest in the entire Horticultural Division, joined the Mary Lou Smith Award of Merit (winners scoring 95 or above in two specified sections) and a blue ribbon that had already been laid next to a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata).

“I don’t know how this happened,” Ms Jepsen said, laughing. “This thing has to be 20 years old. I water it when it looks like it needs it. That’s it. I almost didn’t bring it.”

Nevertheless, the plant was gorgeous, and drew even more nods of approval from those who were in the vicinity of Ms Jepsen when Ms Osborne handed the ribbon to its recipient.

Once the judging was done, the show was open for the public’s enjoyment. Garden club members, family and friends were already enjoying the show by late Tuesday morning. A few residents were also seen slowly working their way along the tables, inspecting and commenting on the dozens of entries before them.

Ms Osborne said this week she was happy with the club’s effort.

“The judges were very complimentary, and I was very pleased with the way all of our members stepped up to the plate and brought all of their horticulture in,” she said May 3. “Two weeks ago we didn’t know if we would have forsythia on view, and that would be it,” she added, laughing. “But really, everything worked out fine.”

In addition to garden club members, Ms Osborne said organizers received additional support from Shakespeare’s Gardens in Brookfield, who loaned 24 planters for display; Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, which provided tables; and resident Bruce Clark, who constructed many of the pedestals for the displays.

Marilynn Klepfer, who chaired the horticulture division of the show, called the event “a great learning experience.” She loved watching, she said, the show fall into place during the 24 hours prior to the arrival of judges on April 25.

“It was very thrilling to watch this hall be transformed,” Ms Klepfer said. “Just 24 hours ago, it was all blank, white tables. A lot of work has been done by everyone.”

By Tuesday morning, there were 146 separate horticulture entries, 24 design entries, and two special exhibits. It was a very impressive display for the club, whose previous standard show was five years ago.

“It’s sort of a dying art, I think,” Ms Osborne said. “It seems there are fewer and fewer as the years go by. It is sort of hard to do, to talk that many people into being involved in this kind of project.

“I think it was more mandatory in the past that clubs do flower shows, to keep up their skills and make sure everybody was participating,” she said.

Ms Osborne, who is on the path to becoming an accredited flower show judge, oversaw everything for “A Party In The Garden,” from the show’s theme to the printed schedule that helped judges — and especially visitors to the municipal center — understand what was being presented. There are a lot of hoops for student judges to work through before becoming accredited. A decreased number of shows presents one challenge, especially when a student needs to judge five shows.

“I’ve been working on this process for three years, and I’ve done three shows now,” said Ms Osborne. “There just aren’t that many around.”

Those who made a point of visiting “A Party In The Garden,” or even stumbled upon it while visiting the town’s government center, certainly had the opportunity to enjoy a festive presentation.

To see additional photos from The Garden Club of Newtown’s standard flower show, read this story, which was posted on April 25, shortly after the show opened to the public.

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