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Local flower show flourishes

Over 500 entries were proudly displayed at the Trevose Horticultural Society’s “Santa Fe Sunset” Flower Show

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

For one colorful weekend, locals near St. Ephrem’s Church in Bensalem didn’t need to look far to experience a true “Santa Fe Sunset.” With bright peppers, dry floral arrangements and cacti, the church’s gym was transformed into the desert lands of the Southwest for the Trevose Horticultural Society’s annual flower show on Aug. 18–19.

In full bloom: The theme of the Trevose Horticultural Society’s annual flower show was “Santa Fe Sunset,” which incorporated the colors, cacti and cultures of the Southwest. PHOTO: Karen Wychock

Looking back on the two days, event chairman Karen Wychock couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. More than 400 guests attended the show, which had more than 500 horticultural entries and 28 artistic design displays. The free event allowed community members to experience the world of gardening on a smaller scale compared to the Philadelphia Flower Show.

“It gives a glimpse into what a flower show is all about,” Wychock said.

The mission behind the event is to educate the public and possibly spark an interest in a new hobby. Upon entering the flower show, the artistic displays immediately caught guests’ attention. Standing almost 45 inches tall on pedestals, each of the displays followed the theme of “Red Hot Chile Peppers” and incorporated yellow, orange and red peppers. According to Wychock, the theme allowed entrants to have fun with their designs and use uncommon items such as cacti and succulents.

“It gave them an opportunity to work with materials they don’t usually use,” she said.

For the first time, multiple generations had the chance to learn from each other while collaborating on a display. About 20 residents from the Bensalem Senior Center joined forces with a group of local students to create an exhibit made entirely of dry flower arrangements.

Another display, created by Wychock, portrayed the rich 94-year history of the Trevose Horticultural Society, which has held a show every year except during World War II. The display was sprinkled with remastered photographs of past members, presidents and show themes, and included an antique plate engraved with the society’s emblem.

Among the lavish artistic displays were more than 500 horticultural entries, which is where the organization’s true passion lies. Members of the Trevose Horticultural Society specialize in the art of planting vegetables and flowers, and enjoy showing off their best tomatoes and carrots each year at the show.

While taking in all of the sights and smells, guests were able to shop and get hands-on gardening experience as well. At the market table, 100 hypertufas were sold. According to Wychock, these plants resemble stone and are perfect for novices and people who live in apartments because they don’t require maintenance. Adults and children took part in a make-and-take activity where they planted succulents in a glass container and filled it with various desert-colored sands.

At the end of the event, the divisions were judged and the winners were announced. Several local gardeners, including Hazel Downes, earned multiple ribbons in the Horticultural Division. The Bensalem resident was top winner, receiving the National Garden Club Grower’s Choice Award for her container-grown “Fairy Castle” cereus cactus and the NGC Arboreal Award for her “Golden Showers” cypress. Downes also received the society’s Joseph Caravan Award for her “Route 66” themed botanical arts dish garden entry and the Arnold Young Award for most blue ribbons in the Container Grown Section.

Of the 28 artistic arrangements, Philadelphia’s Lazaro C. Fontanilla Jr. received both the NGC Award of Design Excellence and the Designer’s Choice Award for his creative interpretation of “Red Hot Chile Peppers.” Wychock, of Warrington, received the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania Award of Special Recognition for her table entry in “Balloon Fiesta.” Lynn Kay of Bensalem was awarded the society’s Dorothy Hoffman Award for her colorful interpretation of the novice class “Native American Culture.” In a special exhibits class entitled “Tribal Artistry,” Ruth Kurtz of Warminster won the society’s Rachel Schwarz Award for her artistic interpretation of a squash blossom necklace composed of all dried natural plant material displayed in a shadowbox.

Several informative displays focused on broadening the public’s environmental awareness. The exhibit “Desert Beauty — Gardening with Succulents” by Blanche Gottel, owner of The Plant Lady of Bucks County LLC, was awarded the NGC Educational Award. The conservation exhibit “Understanding and Preventing Lyme and Other Tick Borne Illnesses” by Evelyn Throne of PA Lyme received the GCFP Educational and Conservation Silver Award. “Santa Fe Three Ways,” coordinated by Dennis Stranz, director of the Lower Southampton Library in Feasterville, received the society’s Award of Appreciation for featuring a fun-fact glimpse at the history, art and nature of the Southwest.

After months of planning, crafting and planting, Wychock can breathe a sigh of relief at another successful show. Though she already has an idea or two up her sleeve for next year’s theme, local garden enthusiasts will have to wait a few months before her official announcement. ••

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