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County garden and flower show puts on a blooming good display

Floral and foliage judged exhibits inside Wellington Town Hall

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The County Blooms Garden and Flower Show blossomed in typical fashion Saturday, flourishing with an array of displays, exhibits, plants for sale, friendly free advice and a warm welcome.

Held at the Wellington Town Hall location for a second year, the Prince Edward County Horticultural Society’s annual garden show spread its roots outside to the grounds of both St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and CML Snider School with a variety of vendors, stalls and activities.

“We really like this venue. It’s smaller than our past venue at Crystal Palace,” said Lise Bois, President of the Prince Edward County Horticultural Society.

A Victorian tea was held inside the church and inside the Town Hall, the free event (donations were encouraged) saw a vast selection of blooms and foliage entered into the flower show judged earlier in the day. Every size of hosta leaf from less than three inches up to 10 inches-plus were on display in an assortment of colours and varigations.

Blooms in the various sections and classes ranged from exotic to oversized to exquisitely colourful; some were tall and some were small. There were roses, irises, alliums, peonies, clematis, Oriental poppy; a branch of weigela, a posy of pansies and a wisp of loosestrife and more besides.

Most intoxicating of all was the light perfume wafting through the room from the sweet scent combination of peonies and roses.

Kathy Kingsley-Bondy was awarded first prize, as well as a special mention, for her entry in a new category ‘Assemblage’ in the Garden Bones class, which is an assemblage consisting of things that wouldn’t normally go together. The judges describe the category as a difficult one. Goats beard and a little yellow heritage rose formed part of the design along with items which Kingsley-Bondy said were just dug up from her garden.

Secretary and board member, R. John Garside, with VP and board member, Darlene Johnston, of the PEC Horticultural Society.

Outside, Master Gardeners were on hand to answer gardening questions. There were used gardening books and magazines for sale at rock-bottom prices and plants for sale by the bucket load. A big table of interesting activities for children involved colourful paints, bug boxes and rocks for the garden.

“The Horticultural Society is trying to reinvent itself a little bit and we are trying to involve the community more,” said Bois. “We are a lot more than just flowers; we are also concerned about the environment and the bees and pollinators in general, so we are trying to reach out to that kind of community where people are maybe younger and interested in doing some more environmental kind of gardening.”

It was Tree the County’s second year at the garden show and Susan Banks of Tree the County was handing out free little trees and promoting the importance of trees.

“Trees do important work; they cool the climate, reduce carbon from the atmosphere, help with climate change and increase property values,” said Banks.

Tree the County is a group of people working to preserve and enlarge the County’s tree canopy. The group’s aim is to raise awareness about the benefit of trees. Tree the County will be taking part in the Prince Edward County Neighbourhood Tree Inventory Project this year. Banks explained the initiative called ‘Neighbourwoods’ will gather information about the area’s tree population, including those trees situated on private property (with owner permission). The group also hopes to change municipal policy with a new tree policy. Tree the County will begin its inventory this summer in the village of Bloomfield.

A push lawn mower, a lawn sprinkler and an icewine and brandy crystal glass gift set were among the silent auction items available. Other items included private yoga sessions, a lavender gift basket, jewellery and a thatcher’s rake.

“We are looking to increase membership and we are looking to increasing it by inviting what we call the millennials, sort of younger people to come in and explore all about gardening,” said Boise. “It tended to be slightly older people, mostly people who were retired and who had time to do more of that flowery kind of stuff, but now we are realizing that the younger people are also wanting to grow their food and they want to be concerned with the environment, so basically they try to figure out how to do it all at the same time.“

“We are leaning towards catering more to that and we have people who have that kind of information; to know how to garden more sustainably, who are maybe into permaculture and homesteading, so we are starting to increase our membership with that kind of system. We are starting to see a lot more of these niche markets and a lot of them are organic and they are really concerned about sustainability, so not necessarily depleting the earth, they are doing smaller farms with pastured animals and again a lot of them are growing organic. They are proving that organic is not just possible, but even that much better for the environment.”

The Prince Edward County Horticultural Society, a not-for-profit branch of the Ontario Horticultural Society, is one of the oldest horticultural groups in Ontario. You don’t have to be a garden expert to join; members consist of beginners to accredited Master Gardeners and all levels in between. For those wishing to find out more information or to join the volunteer-run Prince Edward County Horticultural Society, visit pechorticultural.org

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