As winter quietly replaces fall color, it is a magical time in Memphis gardens. Bold, warm, rich hues of fall foliage and annuals, as well as a few lingering roses and faded hydrangeas, are framed by glossy evergreens. Last month, the Little Garden Club of Memphis took inspiration from our region to present an innovative Garden Club of America (GCA) flower show at the Memphis Botanic Garden. The GCA was formed in 1913 to “promote greater understanding of the interdependence of horticulture, environmental protection and community improvement.” They have a vast network of members and clubs who celebrate and protect the natural world in many ways.
The Greenways and Greenlines show, named in honor of Memphis’ pedestrian- and cyclist- friendly, 26-mile Wolf River Greenway and 10.65-mile Shelby Farms Greenline, included floral design, horticulture, nature photography and educational exhibits that highlighted the River City’s natural beauty. Consistent with the theme, entries featured bicycle and water references. As in all GCA shows, there were multiple classes within each division, and every entry was judged according to the strictest principles and design elements.
Novice floral designer Stephanie Wilson won the Best in Show Award with her bicycle-inspired arrangement of florals sourced locally. Another class of miniature gardens featured a footpath or bicycle trail made entirely of plant material. In the horticulture competition, specimen quality entries from exhibitors’ yards were cut and conditioned to perfection. Blue ribbon horticulture winner Jean Johnston planted her winning Cryptomeria japonica over 15 years ago. This GCA horticulture category promotes the conservation of endangered and threatened plants.
The Wonders of Watersheds exhibit was particularly enlightening as Memphis is home to multiple watersheds. Extensively researched by Little Garden Club members Michelle Dunavant and Leslie Schutt, the presentation was designed to educate the public about how individuals treat the land and our direct impact on water quality. They even challenged the public to make a “healthy yard pledge” to prevent pollution.
The GCA flower shows are celebratory by design and show the community how gardens inspire us as well as how the natural world informs our lives. The Memphis Garden Club will present our city's next GCA show at Dixon Gallery and Gardens in the spring.