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Shell Islands Garden Club presents ‘Designing Women’ flower show

By Staff | Mar 30, 2011

At a recent Shell Islands Garden Club meeting, flower show co-chair Harriet Pattison gave several demonstrations on floral design.

On April 13 and 14, the Shell Islands Garden club will present “Designing Women,” a standard flower show, at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.

The Shell Islands Garden Club, which is officially recognized by the National Council of State Garden Clubs, hosts monthly meetings October through May and supports many national and local organizations and projects, including the National Garden Club, ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization), environmental camps for students and plantings along Sanibel’s Periwinkle Way.

The Shell Islands Garden Club, which began with 12 charter members and currently has about 60, is mostly made up of amateur gardeners and flower arrangers — but through guest speakers, activities and live demonstrations during their meetings, members are continuously expanding their knowledge about horticulture and floral design.

And every two years, club members have a chance to show off all their newly acquired skills.

“Part of the reason we do these shows,” said Designing Women chairperson Glenda Campbell, “is to encourage our members to further their education in growing, staging and exhibiting.”

Flower show chairperson Glenda Campbell demonstrates how to arrange greenery.

But Campbell doesn’t just have a passion for plants and pretty flowers — she’s also an accredited National Garden Council flower show judge and is required to refresh her credentials every three years.

“Designing Women will be a standard flower show, also called a placement show, with designs that are made for specific areas in the house — such as a dining room table or end table,” Campbell said, noting that past shows have incorporated themes such as music, holidays or miniature flowers.

Originally held in the Sanibel Public Library, the Shell Islands Garden Club flower show now takes place at the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village.

“There will be a $5 admission fee for people to get into the Museum to see the show, but the Museum goes out of their way to accommodate us, and we’re glad that they can benefit from hosting the event,” Campbell said.

This year’s show will feature three divisions.

The design division of the show is made up of six separate classes with themes like “My Fair Lady” and “Tea Party Chapeau,” the latter of which requires entrants to create a beautiful hat on a styrofoam head using only plant materials. Submissions will be judged on design elements, artistic concept and execution, and will be on display for public viewing in different areas of the Village, including Rutland House, the Old School House, Miss Charlotta’s Tearoom and Morning Glory Cottage.

The horticulture division will judge entrants on more technical criteria, including proper scientific identification and labeling, cultural perfection and condition.

A third, special division — titled, “Good Bugs, Bad Bugs” — will be on display in the Museum’s Burnap Cottage.

Winners will be selected by two panels, each made up of three judges, all of whom are rigorously trained under National Garden Council guidelines.

“We have all kinds of workshops and demonstrations during our meeting season, and our members are thrilled to be participating in the flower show,” Campbell said. “I’m always happy when then get excited about it, and I can see the joy they get from creating something beautiful — especially when they didn’t think they could do it, and then they find out they can!”

“Designing Women” co-chair Harriet Pattison agrees — she spent 10 years doing flower arrangements for the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and joined the Shell Islands Garden Club three years ago. She says she’s looking forward to participating in the Club’s upcoming show.

“This year I’m going to create a hat made out of floral material for the ‘Tea Party Chapeau’ class that will be on display in Miss Charlotta’s Tea Room. It’s very whimsical and amusing, and those are the kind of pieces I like to do — things that will make people smile rather than just traditional arrangements,” Pattison said. “When you enter a flower show, you always learn more — from seeing what other competitors or members are doing and the judges’ comments — and it inspires you to try new things. Sometimes it’s tough because you’re creating something and design is subjective –sometimes the judges like it and sometimes they don’t!”

But according to both Pattison and Campbell, being a member of the Shell Islands is about much more than flower shows — it’s about camaraderie.

“A lot of the members are fairly new to the islands, and the Club is a great way to make new friends with people that share a passion for gardening and flowers,” Pattison said. “A long time ago, when I was still in Boston, I remember being told that flower people are very friendly people — and I’ve always found that to be true, especially here on Sanibel.”

“Designing Women” will be on display and open to the public on Wednesday, April 13, from noon to 4 p.m. (judging will take place from 10 a.m. to noon), and Thursday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

There will be a $5 Museum admission fee.

The Sanibel Historical Museum and Village is located at 950 Dunlop Road.