The event took place at St. Ephrem in Bensalem and featured nearly 500 entries
By Samantha Bambino
There are certain things in this world that only get better over time, and that’s certainly the case for the Trevose Horticultural Society. Currently, the group is celebrating an impressive 95 years of helping local plant and garden enthusiasts hone their craft and discover a new, lifelong passion.
Aside from the time frame during World War II, the Society has held fast to its tradition of hosting an annual flower show, which always welcomes hundreds of attendees and exhibitors, all sharing an interest in the beauty of nature.
During the 2018 show, which took place at St. Ephrem Church in Bensalem on Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18, more than 400 guests came out to see nearly 500 horticultural, artistic, junior and senior designs revolving around the theme “Traveling the Orient Express,” the winners of which were recently announced.
For show chairperson and Warrington resident Karen Wychock, it was a thrill to see such a massive turnout for the group’s anniversary event.
“Seventy-five percent of our members took part in the show, which was great,” she said. “Most of our members did something, whether they exhibited or helped set up the show.”
From the moment attendees entered St. Ephrem, they were instantly thrown into the hustle and bustle world of travel. A luxury liner was constructed by the entrance to give the illusion of walking into a train station, while decorations lended themselves to the foreign lands of Paris and Istanbul. Even if someone had never traveled, or hadn’t done so in years, Wychock made sure this experience was the next best thing.
“It brought back a lot of memories because for our staging, we asked people for old luggage. We had a train set up, people brought items from their parents and grandparents that were in their attics,” Wychock said. “A lot of the classes in our show were related to those destinations from Europe and Asia.”
“Traveling the Orient Express” was represented heavily in the 28 artistic arrangements. Wychock received both the National Garden Club Award of Design Excellence and the Designer’s Choice Award for her creative interpretation of the “Fit for a King” table design, which required participants to decorate a table and name a guest to invite. To correlate with the theme, Wychock chose Agatha Christie, author of Murder on the Orient Express. Wychock also earned the Society’s Sweepstakes Design trophy for most blue ribbons in the Artistic Design Division.
The Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania Award of Special Recognition was given to Nancy Orlando, of Philadelphia, for her breakfast tray entry in “Guten Morgen.” In a Botanical Arts class entitled “Evening in Paris,” Ruth Kurtz, of Warminster, won the Society’s Rachel Schwarz Award for her artistic evening bag decorated with dried natural plant material. Christine Dopp, of Mountaintop, received the Society’s Dorothy Hoffman Award for her colorful interpretation of the Novice class “Mind the Gap.”
According to Wychock, the classes are divided by skill level to encourage new designers.
“It kind of levels the playing field for them so they don’t feel intimidated by people who have been designing for years,” she said.
In addition to the artistic designs, the flower show had an abundance of horticultural entries — 499 to be exact — since many members are avid farmers and gardeners. Hazel Downes, of Bensalem, was top winner in the Horticultural Division, receiving the NGC Grower’s Choice Award for her potted plants of braided money tree and shrimp plant, the latter also winning the Award of Horticultural Excellence.
Wychock won the NGC Grower’s Choice Award and the Society’s Stella Matzak Award for her exceptional “Partners in Crime” themed Combination Planter. NGC Awards of Merit were won by Mary Ann Wolf for her flawless “Black Cherry” tomatoes; Aurea Almazan, of Philadelphia, for her outstanding cut stem of polka dot plant; Lenis Van Aken, of Holland, for her distinctive herb collection; and Lynn Whalen for her exceptional collection of dahlias.
A key mission of the Society is to broaden the environmental awareness of the public, so several informative displays were also featured. The educational exhibit “Reflecting in a Tranquil Asian Garden” by Blanche Gottel, owner of The Plant Lady of Bucks County, was awarded the NGC Educational Award. Coordinated by Rich Bowen, vice president of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Garden Railway Society, “Trains Grow Gardens” was awarded the GCFP Educational and Conservation Silver Award. “Orchids 101 for Beginners,” coordinated by Bensalem’s Sandy Kern, president of the Bucks County Orchid Society, received the Society’s Award of Appreciation for her exhibit describing the basics of how to choose and grow beautiful orchids suitable to a home environment.
After 95 years, it’s clear the local love of planting is far from becoming extinct. Though Wychock said the Society at one point boasted more than 1,000 members, she doesn’t see the group disappearing anytime soon.
“I think the reason it’s still around is that people still enjoy watching things grow. They enjoy planting, they enjoy the harvest, and we’re always encouraging younger people to come in,” she said. “There’s so much with organic gardening now. People are really interested in what they’re eating, what they’re putting in their bodies. So I think more and more are gardening at home, whether it’s a couple tomato plants on their patio or half an acre. It doesn’t matter. It’s important to encourage people to try it.”
The Trevose Horticultural Society meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Bensalem Senior Center. New members are always welcome. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com