"Traditions of Nature"
The Horticulture Club at The University of Connecticut
Each February, the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show transforms the Convention Center in Hartford into a verdant oasis of Spring flowers and greenery amidst the gray drudgery of mid-Winter. But in order for that to be possible, the landscape exhibits need to be planned out and executed in great detail beginning several months prior. For the show theme of Traditions of Nature, the club decided to focus on the seasonality of garden and people's most evocative memories of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
Winter. A weeping White Pine and some holiday garlands provide evergreen interest. The reds of the Winterberry and Redtwig Dogwood add a splash of color. Some fake snow on the branches and ground sets the mood,
Spring. Tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths were planted in small pots and placed in a cool greenhouse for two weeks to root in. Afterwards, the bulbs and the deciduous shrubs were moved to a chiller room and left at a few degrees above freezing for nearly three months. A few weeks prior to the show, the material was brought into a warm greenhouse in full sunlight and forced into bloom. Freshly cut sod was provided at the show.
Summer. Flowering Beach Plum and Bayberry set the scene at the beach. A sun umbrella, a lounge chair, and some genuine sea shells add ambience to this sandy environment.
Fall. Through the magic of glycerin, a blaze of preserved foliage blankets the ground and lingers on the branches of fall favorites such as Gray Dogwood and Black Tupelo. Hay bales, pumpkins, and apples all add to the Fall harvest mood.
To make the budget work, the club recycled or borrowed materials. The white picket fence that divided each season of the display was salvaged and rebuilt from scraps -- and given a fresh coat of white paint. With university midterms in full swing, the Club put together the display during several evenings. Much of the prep work was done at the main campus in Storrs and moved in finshed form to the convention center later to allow more club members to help out.
The display won awards for Best Use of Native Plant Material as well as Most Creative & Original Design. The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut lauded its "simple but powerful interpretation" of the show's theme. But most of all, it was a hit with the visitors despite being the smallest exhibit in the show.
A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Alamanc