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County Garden Club flower show returns in full bloom

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
A tantalizing array of vivid colours and a pleasing mix of delicate fragrances was what can best described as a feast for the senses in a spectacular tribute to what a garden and its grower can create so early in the growing season in Prince Edward County.

In full bloom Saturday was the return of the County Garden Club’s annual garden and flower show, known as The County Blooms, held this year at the Wellington United Church.

Usually an annual event, the flower show was last held in 2019, on hiatus for three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are thrilled to have it, and this is a really nice venue for us, and we are fairly pleased with the turnout,” said Lise Bois, co-chair of the County Garden Club. “This is one of our signature events just to showcase what residents are growing.”

The main feature, the flower show itself, never disappoints where the bright airy church hall showcased a variety of glorious blooms as a stream of visiting public enjoyed the showcase. Many were amazed by the beautiful and bountiful blooms, the astonishing range of colours, but also the incredible aesthetically-pleasing artistry achieved in some of the arrangements.

The judged event, with ribbons for first, second and third places, as well as special mention ribbons, Bois acknowledges the challenge of timing blooms to peak at their best with the date of the show, where she said early spring weather has an impact on whether a specific plant will be late or early to bloom in any given year.

“These flower shows are so dependent on weather and the bugs, and because of the really hot weather we had for a little spell, some things that we might have had more of, like irises, may have bloomed too early or not enough, then it got really cold, so roses may not have come as much as they should have come.“

While the selection of flowers in bloom is limited at this time of year, there are still plenty of options and Bois notes the categories are geared for those plants and flowers.

Peonies, in colours of pure white, pale yellow, and every shade of pink imaginable from the lightest shade to the deepest blood red, are always a showstopper at this time of year, with an outstanding collection on display. The peonies were joined by a delicious temptation of perennials, such as foxgloves, irises, roses and lupins among them, including a few impressive fiery orange oriental poppies.

The flower show isn’t just about flowers, although they dominate the occasion, as foliage is represented too, mainly by an amazement of hosta leaves, from the absolute tiniest to those much larger in size, as well as some other leafy examples of herbs and leaf lettuce.

Picton’s Judy Young received a second place ribbon for the A Day in the Life landscape design category which contains hosta, salvia and curly willow.

Favourite spring-time giant alliums were resplendent too, along with campanula and clematis, pinks and pansies, gas plant, coral bells and columbines, and even maktagen lilies.

“The judge was very impressed with the plants that we have,” said Bois, “and it’s nice to see what grows in people’s gardens and the creativity and the design, and the thought that goes behind the categories. It’s absolutely fabulous and we really enjoy it.”

While most of the entries are from garden club members, anyone in Prince Edward County can enter the flower show (including youth), and you don’t have to be a member to do so, plus there is no cost to enter the flower show.

Sandra Dowds of Bloomfield received first prize in the Now or Never synergistic design category

Bois said the club would like more folks from the community to consider entering a flower from their garden next year because she says it’s fun to enter, it takes little effort and is free – and you just might win a ribbon and bragging rights in the process. She especially hopes more children will consider entering next time as they do have a specific youth division.

Bois said while she herself isn’t a gardener of the types of blooms that can be found in the flower show, as she typically grows mostly herbs and native plants which tend to flower later in the season, she says she did pull something out of her garden on the morning of the show, and got a first prize ribbon. “It goes to show, you can do it. You can put together a little bouquet, and there’s lots of flexibility.”

She said the nice thing about these flower shows is that there are several categories.

“Most people grow hostas or allium, or you can do a bouquet; almost everyone can garden, and to some extent you plant a pot and a couple of flowers,” she said. “There are categories for everybody, you don’t have to have the really fancy peonies, you can have less fancier peonies, or the poppies or lilies.”

Walking around the hall, taking in the colourful and cheerful spectacle surrounding, Bois adds with a touch of pride in her voice, “I am so impressed by all this stuff”.

Kathy Kingsley-Bond of Wellington was awarded a ribbon for third place for her design in the category of Today, Tomorrow and Always abstract design.

The Prince Edward County Horticultural Society (which was established in 1869) has re-brand itself recently and is now known as the County Garden Club. With just over 60 members, it was a move the not-for-profit organization decided would make the group feel more inclusive to the public, and better reflect who they are and what they do in the community, and to make it more accessible.

The garden and flower show also had plants for sale, grown by garden club members, as well as a silent auction which included plants, books, framed photographs, a birdhouse, a quilt and lots of garden goodies. For those looking to grab a bite to eat, the show had its Garden Bistro too, where home-made quiche and salad was on the menu, along with dessert.

The County Garden Club’s efforts around the County include more than its annual flower show, and annual garden tour, where they are working in the community as well as with the municipality to create native gardens involving all kinds of plantings.

Six public pollinator gardens have been created and completed by the group, three of them located on the Millennium Trail, including Station Road (Millennium Trail), Delhi Park, Salem Road (Millennium Trail), and the James Taylor lookout.

“I think slowly, slowly people are beginning to realize that the Garden Club members in the County do a lot,” she said. “We have just finished planting on two municipal properties and we’ve done one at the new White Chapel kiosk on the Millennium Trail, and we’ve done one at Prinyer’s Cove boat launch, both pollinator-friendly gardens using native plants and shrubs as well.”

While membership is at a good level, they would like to attract more members, and younger generations, to help them partake in more community projects and plantings across the County.

Last week, the County Garden Club held its annual garden tour, this year a self-guided tour of 14 County gardens open to the public in Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Carrying Place and Waupoos.

Designed as a fundraising event this year, proceeds for the $10 ticketed event raised just over $700 (which they hope to round-up to $1,000) to be donated to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Back the Build campaign.

“The garden tour was really fun and people really loved it,” enthuses Bois, “I think we had too many gardens with 14 gardens, and one couple said they had over 300 visitors. It went really, really well and I think people are interested as there was something for everyone.”

She describes how the tour gardens varied so participants could enjoy many different types and different sizes of gardens.

“It worked out really nicely and people were really happy.”

Summer plans for the County Garden Club will be to maintain the six public gardens they have planted in the community.

“In the fall, we are going to be helping plant some trees in the County,” she added. “In the summer generally is when we look after our own gardens.”

More information about the County Garden Club, the work they do, events they have planned and details on entry requirements for the flower show, or learn how to become a member or a volunteer, can be found at

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