Garden Club of Darien holding flower show

Photo of Sandra Diamond Fox

The heavy April showers Darien saw last month will hopefully, bring out lots of flowers this month — just in time for the Garden Club of Darien’s flower show.
The show, called “the myth of Persephone, the birth of the seasons,” is a multi-day event, from May 7 to 9. It will take place at the Tokeneke Club, 4 Butlers Island Road.
The Garden Club of Darien holds a flower show every five to seven years. The last show was in 2013 and had about 1,500 visitors.
The theme of the show "came from Greek mythology, in the Story of Persephone, goddess of spring and queen of the underworld. Persephone’s story explains how the seasons change.
More than 70 people have been involved in the planning of the flower show.
The club has over 110 members and meets monthly at the Darien Community Association.
There is estimated to be 100 to 200 participants in the show this year.
The competition has four divisions — floral design, horticulture, photography, and botanical arts (jewelry) – with more than 50 specific categories.
Within each division, there is a lot of variety in the types of work that’s entered into each competition.
“A woman from Hawaii entered in our last show and won an award in photography. She submitted a photograph of a bird. It was her first competition,” said Darien resident Emily D’Andrea, who, along with Debbie Murray, are co-chairs of the flower show. “She started taking photography classes, become the photography chair for her own garden club, and went on to chair the photography class for her club’s flower show.”
In the botanical arts category, a woman from California submitted a floral crown made out of dried plant material that was painted, according to D’Andrea.

In the horticulture division, there is a large platform garden exhibit that can have as many as 300 cut stems in it; and for floral design, “there is one arrangement suspended from above, one under water and a diverse demonstration of many talents,” Murray said.
According to Iris Mix, the show’s publicity co-chair, the process of entering a competition is “very time consuming.”
“After you pick the category and event you are entering, you begin to think about timing, when to buy plants, how long to grow [the plants] in pots, and when to transplant to your container.
She added that one must also consider how often to water and what other kinds of materials — such as rocks, stone, and wire — are allowed, and what will be in a design. Sometimes, the material will need to be replaced.
For example, Mix said that in her trough, she replaced the tile a few times, “until we achieved the look we wanted. In the days up to the show, including the day of the show, all entries need grooming.”
In addition, dead plant material and dust need to be removed, one must be careful when watering and “definitely check for small gnats and other bugs,” Mix said.
She said to “always have extra plant material in case something dies.”
“For us, it was a fun group project. We bounced ideas off each other, and moved the trough to different houses as we went on vacation,” Mix said. “Your project is like a small child and needs to be tended with love.”
When judging the competition, a panel of judges have a list of parameters they must follow. Aside from awards given out in each division, participants can also win additional awards, such as Best in Show.
Preview party, other activities
The show’s preview party will provide an opportunity to view the exhibits as well as the awards received.
There will also be a silent and flower pot auction with prizes, and a boutique filled with gardening items.
On May 8, there will be a speaker from the nonprofit organization C-Change Conversations, on how food choice and agriculture impact climate change.
There will be a children’s exhibit about soil and growing sunflowers, as well as a conservation exhibit on the importance of good soil, planting practices, and composting.
Proceeds from the show’s preview party, silent auction, and raffle will be donated to projects for the conservation, education and beautification of Darien.
Club history
The Garden Club of Darien (GCD) was founded 90 years ago when it joined the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut. It’s a member of the Garden Club of America (GCA), which was founded in 1913.
The GCD has been responsible for many projects including the planting of 200 dogwood trees in key areas of town, design and plantings in the courtyard at the Darien Library, the donation of trees to Darien’s five elementary schools, and the design and installation of trees and other plantings at Town Hall.
“We built an outdoor classroom at the Darien Nature Center, and we maintain the herb garden at the historical society,” Mix said.
Love of gardening
Gardening is in the club members’ blood. D’Andrea has been gardening for 25 years. “I learn so much,” she said, adding that she is hoping the event will encourage people to “appreciate the beauty of the world around us, the importance of organic gardening and conservation, art, beauty, camaraderie, and the ability to interact with people of different age groups with like-minded interests.”
She added that her mother has been a master flower arranger for about 60 years. “She is a member of a garden club in Greenwich and she has entered in every flower for the past 40 years,” D’Andrea
Murray said her father was a gardener in Darien.
Mix’s mother is a master gardener. “I grew up in South Carolina,” Mix said. “My mother has a wildflower garden.”

Mix said that putting on the flower show “furthers our education by seeing the different competitions within each category. We want to share the knowledge we have with other people.”

Schedule of events
The May 7 preview party runs from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $100. At the party, people can view what’s going to be featured in the show, as well as how the entries were judged. There is also a silent auction.
On May 8, the flower show is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.. From 1 to 4 p.m., there is a children’s workshop. Children can learn about soil, sun, water, and how to grow seeds. The show is free.
On May 9, the flower show is open 10 a.m. to 1 p.m..
For further information, visit . Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.