Category Archives: Flower Shows

Flower Design Competition Today!

Today was my garden club’s final in-house floral competition for the 2010-2011 club year. As an Intermediate II designer I signed up to create a “Traditional Vertical Design placed on a table on the stage 42″ from the floor; allotted space 24″ deep x 24″ wide.  Background and underlay optional.” Yes. Indeed I did.

As usual, I purchased flowers on Friday afternoon, clipped them and put them to “condition” in my cool basement then I went about the business of having a productive and fun weekend. Sunday afternoon arrived and I brought the flowers up from downstairs and stared at them. And stared at them. And stared at them some more. Not really convinced I know what a traditional vertical design is, I Googled it and studied the results, then I grabbed my trusty “Designing By Types” book that I purchased at our club’s December tea; it inspired my topiary design last month. This month, however, I didn’t see what I needed. That said, I did my best and submitted my design this morning, as required.

Here is my traditional vertical design. I value the constructive criticism I received.

Fast forward to this afternoon and I saw my design earned a blue ribbon. Wow! I really appreciated the judges’ constructive feedback. I received two positives: (1) strong vertical lines. (2) scale and proportion of material good. And I received two constructive criticisms that are well deserved: (1) Proportion of the container to design is too great. (2) needs more transitional material between vase and design. Okay. I can look at my design and see what the judges mean.

Other designs today were lovely. I was able to photograph a few before I had to leave. Take a look!

My friend Cynthia created this Advanced I masterpiece: "Creative Line Design placed on a round black pedestal 42" from the floor with a 14" square top."

Two “designers submitted the following based on these instructions: “Intermediates will do a Parallel Design, Handbook, p. 206, staged on a table 30″ from the floor, allotted space 24″ deep x 24″ wide.  Background and underlay optional.”


Our club president Karen did this blue ribbon design.

I can always pick out Fran's designs as they are rich in color, creative and just plain fun to view!

One design I missed photographing was the table centerpiece. My friend Celia designed it. Maybe you can picture it if I try to describe it: From a distance you saw baby birds’ mouths peeping out of a bird’s nest with spring flowers tucked in around. When you looked closely, you saw the “birds” were white calla lilies (with the stems clipped short and tucked in low and tight they looked like little open mouths), a coil of grapevine represented the nest and spring blooming flowers were tucked in along the edges of the “nest.” In all, it was whimsical and clever and very, very spring!


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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, floral design, Flower Shows, Garden Club

N.J. Flower & Garden Show 2011

Juan Lee gave me a free return ticket!

This magnolia bloom is stunning; one garden had three of these trees in it!

The N.J. Flower & Garden Show draws me in like a bee to a lily every year; by February, I’m starved for flowers, green shrubs and the scents of spring. Typically, six or seven “gardens” are set up inside the huge convention center by talented landscapers and I get my spring fix wandering up and down cobbled paths, listening to the various water features burble and trickle, reading plant tags and taking photos of things that catch my fancy.

In addition, I carefully study the flower show entries, trying to learn by looking at these excellent examples how to become a better floral designer. Last year, I entered the state show for the first time; you can read about my experience here. This year I didn’t enter a design, but two local garden club members did. Do you remember me mentioning Debbie, the professionally trained chef who demonstrated the “Cooking with Herbs” workshop this week? She finished the cooking demo and immediately drove to the state show to set up her floral design entry, which received a yellow ribbon.

At well over 6 feet tall, Debbie's design is impressive and the flowers are beautiful!

In addition, Florence entered a design in the state competition that received a white ribbon.

At about 4 feet tall, Florence's design was colorful; check out the bird of paradise!

Both women are talented designers. Last year they entered floral designs in the Philadelphia Flower Show. I’m talking talented!

After I’ve breathed my fill of witch hazels, magnolias and mulch and snapped my last photo of well-done floral designs I wander up and down the aisles to see what the vendors have brought to tempt me. Some return year after year, like the Amish baker; I always buy a dozen whoopee pies from him, unwrap one immediately, wolf it down, and lick my fingers. It’s what I do.

Juan Lee's designs are finely crafted and beautiful.

This year I found Juan Lee of “Art on Tiles”; he paints the most beautiful free-hand art on tiles. I must have been in his booth for 30 minutes or more, checking out the different sized and themed tiles, from whimsical cats to pastoral vineyards in Italy. I purchased two tiles, but it was difficult to settle on just two. The artwork is very well done and his glazes are gorgeous.

This scene reminds me of Italy, where my good friend Anna lives.

Another scene that reminds me of Italy. It will go behind my stovetop where I can look at it often.

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, floral design, Flower Shows, Garden Club, NJ

February Garden Club Flower Show: The Blue Ribbon Designs!

Yesterday I showed you how I created a “Small Design” topiary that I entered in my garden club’s February flower show. As an Advanced II designer I was awarded a blue ribbon for my topiary; the judges loved the juxtaposition of the “perfect arrangement in an imperfect pot.” That made me happy!

My small design is a floral topiary.

My friend Cynthia is a truly gifted designer; I showed you one of her “creative” designs in December (Garden Club Flower Show Results: Surprising!). Cynthia is an Advanced I designer, and yesterday, her ”Parallel Design, staged on a table 30” from floor; allotted space 24” deep x 24” wide. Background and underlay optional” was awarded a blue ribbon. Cynthia’s design is a stunning example of a parallel design! I always learn something from studying Cynthia’s designs.

See how the three elements are closely related to create the parallel design?

Susan, another friend, is a Novice designer and her “Traditional S-Curve Design, staged in front of a backboard panel 36” high x 24” wide provided by committee, staged on a table 30” from floor” was simply beautiful; she was awarded a well-deserved blue ribbon for her white and green design.

Susan's S-Curve design is a good example.

Each month our garden club has a flower show, a gifted designer is invited to showcase a design style of her choice. This month’s “Invitational” designer showcased a unique “Creative Design.” I aspire to this level of skill and imagination!

This "Creative Design" is contemporary, complex and clever!

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Topiary Sunday for Flower Show Competition Monday!

Almost every month October-April my garden club has a floral design competition. This month I signed up to compete; I’m an Advanced II designer this year and was required to create “A Small Design not to exceed 8” in height, width or depth, staged on a 9”x9” white cube provided by committee, staged on a table on stage 42” from floor. Believe it or not, that’s a pretty broad design category!

Wanting to do something “different” than a traditional design in a vase, I created a small topiary. It took me three hours to complete from clipping the branch I used for the topiary stem to adding the last flower to the oasis ball. The design, as small as it is, used a lot of flowers. I really enjoyed the process and by the time I showed my husband Mike and daughter Tory the finished design I told them it didn’t matter if it won a ribbon because I enjoyed the design process so much. And I meant it!

Would you like to see how I did it? Take a look!

First I cut a stick to length, carved dampened oasis into a right-sized ball, joined the two and inserted them into a small terra cotta pot I "aged" for a previous design last year.

I purchased the fresh flowers on Friday and had them "conditioning" in my cool basement until I needed them.

I started by inserting flowers near the top, remembering I had a maximum height restriction.

I worked my way around the ball, alternating flowers by shape and size as I went. Carnations are not the best flower to insert into a design ball this small!

It gets challenging the more flowers you add. And I didn't read any how-to instructions before I started. Duh!

Almost finished. It was a challenge to keep the carnations stuck firmly in the oasis ball!

Here's the finished design, which I photographed then took to my cool, cool basement to sleep overnight! The cooler you keep the arrangement the better it looks for the next day's competition!


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Garden Club Flower Show Results: Surprising!

A Blue Ribbon, Wow!

I didn't think I had wrestled my plant material into blue ribbon form so today's ribbon was a wonderful surprise!

I submitted my “small” floral design this morning at 8 a.m.; small-standard flower show judging began at 9 a.m.; and results were publicly available at 1 p.m., when the garden club’s Annual Holiday Tea and Flower Show began. When I dropped my design off I saw one other “small” designer, my friend Kathleen, but not her design as it was neatly tucked away to protect it from the cold. Neither Cynthia nor Nina, two other friends and fellow competitors, had arrived yet. The four of us were competing in the “small” category. Typically, Kathleen and I compete against each other as we are on the same “level,” while Cynthia and Nina are one level of experience and expertise higher. All three designer friends are very talented and all four of us bring a different design esthetic to the table. I was really looking forward to seeing how each woman interpreted the theme in her design!

Imagine my surprise when I heard I had taken a blue ribbon today! I was delighted. . .and amazed, considering my talented friends. Take a look at their designs and you’ll definitely see what I mean:

Today was my lucky day!

My design, which I showed you yesterday.

A gorgeous "creative" design; I aspire to start doing creative designs; it's a big leap (for me) from the "traditional" style designs I do.

Kathleen's wreath! I'm in love with it!

Nina's design is so evocative of the season. Boxwood rocks!

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Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Christmas Decor, floral design, Flower Shows, Friends, New Jersey

NJ Flower Show—Results Just In!

A Newbie’s Results

Today my 90-year-old friend Mr. C. and I ate lunch at Essen Eppes, a terrific Jewish Deli in Livingston. After I dropped him off at home I headed down the Garden State to see what the NJ Flower Show judges thought of my floral chair design.

My girlfriend Pat and I met in the lobby of the Expo Center, cashed in our ‘two get in free’ ticket offer and hustled over to where we left my floral chair design on Wednesday. From a distance I didn’t see any ribbon on the platform with my design. As we got closer, though, I did see a ribbon.

No. I didn’t get a blue. The blue ribbon went to the all dried flower chair I showed you on Wednesday. Remember the nice woman I talked with? Her design won the blue.

Blue Ribbon Winner

No. I didn’t win a red. The red ribbon went to one of the two designs that weren’t set up yet by the time I left the Expo Center on Wednesday. Take a look at the red ribbon winner below.

Red Ribbon Winner

No. I didn’t win a yellow. The yellow ribbon went to the other design that was staged after I left on Wednesday. Take a look at the yellow ribbon winner below.

Yellow Ribbon Winner

Honorable Mention for My Design

So are you wondering by now exactly what color ribbon my design was awarded? It was awarded a white ribbon, which is an honorable mention. Not bad for a first-time state flower show entry, right?!

After I watered my design, which was drooping a bit and seemed to have been rearranged a little (folks jostling for position to see it?  a child who got away from his/her mom?), Pat and I walked around. Pretty awesome designs surrounded us. And I loved the judges’ choice to award the overall blue ribbon in the creative crafts category to the rooster. It is whimsical and creative and made me smile. Good job by the designer, don’t you think?

Creative Craft Overall Blue Ribbon Winner. Wow!

We looked at the whole-garden designs the landscapers created, commenting on the new plants of the season (anyone for a red-flowered Andromeda?) and wandered up and down the boutique aisles.  We had a great time talking plants.

Then Pat and I turned a corner and I saw it: the tall, black Victorian-style fountain of my dreams, all 7’ of it spouting water up, up, up into the air, then falling gracefully down, down, down into the pool below!! Funny thing, I knew I’d seen that fountain before. . .somewhere. . . I rushed up and stood gazing adoringly at the fountain, then out of the corner of my eye I saw a coleus, then another, then an open-frame greenhouse display. Atlock Farms! It was the Atlock Farms display and I had seen this magnificent fountain in a greenhouse at Atlock Farms about two years ago!!

Do you know Atlock Farms? The owner has been featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine and on her show many times. He does topiaries that are to die for and coleus. Oh, the coleus he has!!!

What a Fountain! Tall, Black and Gorgeous!

Take a look at the fountain. What do you think? We live in a Victorian home and have a perfect spot for that fountain in our east side garden, right through the rose arbor and surrounded by the four tree roses. Maybe the fountain will come live at our house. We’ll see!


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NJ Flower Show — Setup Day

Flowers Like It Cold; People? Not So Much

My supplies were lined up in the front hall last night. The fresh-cut flowers were in water in the cool basement, and the ‘prop’ chair was sitting right next to the flowers. I figured it would be a cinch to load it all into my car by 8:30 am and head down the Garden State to Pat’s house then on to the Expo Center.

Not so easy.

It took me 40 minutes to load all the supplies c a r e f u l l y into my car so the flowers wouldn’t get crushed, the water they were sitting in wouldn’t slosh all over the place, the 4’ x 4’ underlay for the platform wouldn’t get bent, blah, blah, blah.

Ready to go.

Hopped on the Garden State and put pedal to metal.

All good.

Got to my good friend Pat’s exit. A car was broken down where I needed to make my right turn. Smack dab in the intersection. Jersey driver mayhem ensued. Horns, fingers, broad gestures. You know the drill even if you’ve only passed through New Jersey on your way somewhere else. It can get real ugly, real fast.

My cell phone rang as I sat there. It was Pat, one of the Magnificent Seven. Maybe she was worried I got in an accident. After all, a little over a year ago a young woman did 360s across the Garden State in front of me and sent me flying into the curbing, abruptly ending my trip to Pat’s after she’d had surgery. My whole posse helped me that day, thank God.

Where Beauty Reigns Supreme This Weekend.

We made it to the Expo Center with only one wrong turn. When we walked into the building where the designs were being set up we turned to stare at each other, shocked. The place was freezing cold. I mean freezing cold. And the air was thick with mulch dust and who knows what else. Figuring I’d be sweaty, I wore short sleeves and a wooly vest. Hah. Thank goodness I had a fleece in the car. And Pat? Remember, she’s from Ohio. She was properly dressed, right down to the gloves on her hands. Bless her. After I started to warm up I thanked my lucky stars that I took my allergy meds and wore my glasses instead of contacts.

After we located my assigned spot, we fit the underlay to the 4” high platform. It looked good. My daughter Tory had sponge swiped the entire surface, and this morning while drinking a cup of tea, I drew a castle-worthy block floor on it. Pat and I worked like a well-oiled machine. She spruced up the potted ivy, fitted the ‘purses’ around the floral containers, helped me decide the best angle at which to show the chair, helped me artfully arrange the cape I made for the back of the chair and much more. By the time she had to leave, I was well on my way to finishing.

Beautiful Fresh Flowers.

The design started to attract attention from passers-by, perhaps because of the four entries in the category I was the only person setting up at that time. Or it could be because the flowers were glowing with health and beauty. I did what any sensible designer should do: I got my flowers at Bartlett’s Greenhouse in Clifton, NJ. Marietta and Nancy sell the highest quality fresh-cut flowers and plants and they have a depth of knowledge that I think is unmatched. . .and they are willing to share their knowledge, generously.

I was getting ready to pack up when another woman arrived with her ‘prop’ chair. She had decorated it at home and transported it safely to the Expo Center. She used all dried plant materials and her chair was heavily decorated. It is beautiful and I think our designs complement each other. I’m glad hers is placed on the platform to the right of mine. She was nice and we chatted for a while, wishing each other the best of luck. I took a photo of her chair (below) and one of mine (above) as well. Take a look a and see what you think. Keep your fingers crossed. The judging is tomorrow morning at 9:30 am.

Beautiful Dried Flowers

P.S. The other two entries didn’t appear by the time I had left. Okay, I was anxious to see how my design compared. Sheesh. I don’t know when I’m going to get down to the show to see who won ribbons since my schedule is packed for the next couple of days. Maybe they call folks. Maybe you have to show up to find out. Stay tuned!


Filed under Cell Phones, Flower Shows, The Magnificent Seven