MADISON, NJ – The scent of fresh flowers wafted through the air Saturday as a crowd of people buzzed around the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building for a public viewing of Rose City: Preserving the Past and Protecting the Future, a flower show and competition hosted by the Garden Club of Madison.
Hundreds of floral arrangements inspired by a Madison landmarks including Rose City greenhouses, Museum of Early Trade and Crafts, Bottle Hill, Drew University Forest, Madison Community Garden and others were on display for judging at the event.
Displays were evaluated by the “rigorous” standards of the Garden Club of America, and fit into one of three categories: floral design, photography and horticulture.
A children’s exhibit for young ones in attendance featured ladybug habitats decorated by local boys and girls as part of a summer workshop sponsored by the Garden Club of Madison.
“The show celebrates Madison’s vibrant history, especially its contributions to horticulture, education, architecture and environmental conservation,” said the Madison garden club, which this year celebrates its 95th anniversary.
The purpose of the flower show is “to set standards of artistic and horticultural excellence, to broaden knowledge of horticulture, floral design, conservation, photography and other related areas and to share the beauty of a show with fellow club members and with the public,” according to Garden Club of America judging standards.
Here are some of the show's top-rated displays:
A floral design inspired by the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts won best in show. Designed by Nancy Kalal of the New Canaan Garden Club, the display is Kalal’s interpretation of a deconstructed patchwork quilt.
“Each hood masterfully expresses the elements and principles of design and collectively creates a masterpiece,” said the judges. “A 21st-century interpretation of an age-old craft.”
Kalal received the Harriet DeWaele Puckett Creativity Award “in recognition of a uniquely skilled and creative response to an imaginative schedule.”
Andrea Khoobiar of the Garden Club of Madison won second place in floral design for her Twombly Mansion-inspired dining display, a tribute to the Twombly family of Madison, who “often entertained from the veranda, viewing vistas of park lawn, terraces and formal gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead.
“Avid environmentalists, had the Twomblys lived today, they would have taken an organic approach to outdoor entertaining,” said Khoobiar. “This is an homage to that imagined lifestyle.”
Peg Codey of the Garden Club of Madison won second place in photography in the Early Environmentalists class—a color photograph displaying wildlife in or near water—for her snapshot of a blue heron wading through swampy wetlands.
This category pays homage to Marcellus Dodge and Geraldine Rockefeller, “who were instrumental in preserving the land now known as the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge,” said the Garden Club of Madison.
“The sharp focus lends itself to a well-composed, dramatic image of a great blue heron,” according to the judges.
Codey received the Ellen Judd Photography Award for this work, “a photograph of exceptional artistic composition and technical expertise” that honors “an outstanding photographer who shared her love and passion with her fellow club members.
She was also awarded the Garden Club of America Novice Award in photography.
Garden Club of Madison members Barbara Landy and Elaine Arciszewski took home second place in the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey category for floral design, a decorative display that incorporates flowers mentioned by Shakespeare.
“Through its productions and education programs, the company strives to illuminate the universal and lasting relevance of the classics,” said the Garden Club of Madison.
Andi Stephenson and Betty Leitner, also of Madison, won third place in the Shakespeare class.
"A playful use of contrasting colors and textures," said the judges.
In horticulture, Madison dominated the awards.
Virginia Campion won first place for her single pink rose, inspired by Rose Garden Park, and Diane Anton took home second.
Anton attained several other awards, including first place in container-grown plants, for which she received the Mary McDaniel Award “for an outstanding entry in a horticulture class by a member of the Garden Club of Madison to honor a distinguished horticulturist who inspired many with her knowledge and love of plants.”
Anton also was awarded third place for her Bottle Hill hydrangeas.