Yellow Fever in Gloucester VA

We might have Yellow Fever in Gloucester at this time of year but daffodils certainly aren’t just yellow anymore. Fields of daffodils in shades of yellow, orange, red, white and pink have bloomed all across Gloucester County in preparation for the annual Daffodil Festival and the Garden Club of Gloucester’s Daffodil Show that was held last weekend. This was the Garden Club of Gloucester’s 61st Annual Daffodil Show, an American Daffodil Society accredited and judged show.

The show was a great opportunity to explore the many varieties of daffodils. If folks wanted to see antique daffodils as well as the newest varieties in all types of colors, shapes and sizes, last weekend was the perfect opportunity. Members of the club and Brent Heath of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs were on hand to assist novice exhibitors and answer questions about the 13 divisions of daffodils and share much enthusiasm about the show. Click the flowers for a closer view:

Daffodils will thrive just about anywhere in the garden except in deep shade. They do best with 6 – 8 hours of sunlight but can do well in light shade. They are practically maintenance free but appreciate a bit of compost when planted. A rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs three times as deep as the bulb is tall and add a little slow release fertilizer each fall after the first year’s bloom. After that, just sit back and enjoy.

At our daffodil show, not only horticulture is on display. There is an artistic flower arranging section that interprets a theme. This year, the theme revolved around colors of the rainbow with several styles of arranging from miniatures not over 5″, to Tussie-Mussies, to large Dutch-Flemish arrangements, and Landscape floral designs. There was a children’s arranging section, a photography contest, and a tabletop competition.

At the conclusion of the judging, it is exciting when the doors open and the crowds surge forward in anticipation of seeing the blue ribbon in each class as well as the best standard daffodil in the show and the best artistic arrangement in the show.

Winner of the American Daffodil Society Rose Ribbon for the best standard seedling in the show are Clay and Fran Higgins.

Winner of the Best Arrangement in the show, the Most Creative award, and the recipient of the People’s Choice Award is Cam Williams for her tabletop interpretation of ‘Whirlwind of Color’ with the table set for an intimate yet colorful dinner for Lady and the Tramp.

If you missed our Daffodil Show in Gloucester, it’s not too late to experience another in Virginia. On Wednesday April 6, 2011, 2:00 – 8 p.m. and Thursday April 7, 2011 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., visitors will be invited to be our guests at the 77th Annual Garden Club of Virginia’s Daffodil Show, sanctioned by the American Daffodil Society and located at the Holiday Inn, 601 Main Street, Lynchburg, VA.  Again, over a thousand blooms will be on display…. different varieties from those seen at our Gloucester show as there will be varieties that have not yet bloomed. The theme for the artistic flower arranging is ‘Everything Old is New Again.’ taken from the Broadway show All That Jazz. The title reflects the revitalization of old and notable properties in Lynchburg. Some of the most talented and creative members from forty-seven Garden Club of Virginia clubs will compete in an inter-club flower arranging challenge. It’s a visual experience not to miss.  Click HERE for more information.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Flowers with a Southern Flair

Sponsored by the Boxwood Garden Club of Richmond, gardeners and flower arrangers from across the state flocked to Richmond today to a presentation by well-known floral designer Sybil Brooke Sylvester who shared her ideas and philosophies for designing ‘Flowers with a Southern Flair.’ A regular contributor to Southern Living, Southern Accents, Coastal Living and flower magazines and featured in Brides magazine, she is the owner of “Wildflower Designs” in Birmingham, Alabama, where she runs “Wildflower School,” personalized instruction for handling flowers and creating artistic designs.

Sybil Brooke Sylvester

Today Sybil brought her philosophy of floral design to Richmond to demonstrate her personal style of flower arranging. With the arrival of the wedding season, she created a bouquet of roses and another one of herbs, each spring carrying a unique meaning, that spring brides would be delighted to carry. She created a towering arrangement using a multitude of greenery in all shapes, colors and textures, finishing it with the subtle blooms of hellebores. We watched as she demonstrated a bold, masculine arrangement for a groom’s gathering and a simple, yet beautiful arrangement of cut flowers in bright green aquarium gravel.

Filling the space with colorful arrangements and filling the room with colorful stories of  learning the art of arranging in her youth working for two grand dame arrangers, Mrs. McReynolds and Lula Rose Blackwell, we could chuckle along with her as she slowly acquired fundamentals of floral art to become one of the South’s most sought after floral designers.

Meeting Sybil following the presentation...


Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

A Winter Vertical Garden

Vertical walls, living walls, green walls – no matter what you call it, growing a garden on inside or outside walls seems to be a hot trend in gardening and much in the news these days. Whether it is good for the atmosphere or whether a vertical garden causes more harm for the environment than good, I am uncertain. Vertical gardens originated in France, migrated to the West Coast and moved east from there. While some believe these gardens may save the planet, others say the electricity needed to supply water outweighs the benefits.

Portsmouth NH, one of the oldest cities in the country, is where I came upon a vertical garden yesterday that seemed to be struggling to survive one of the toughest New England winters of late. The garden was installed in September, 2010, on the aged brick wall of Cava Restaurant in a narrow old street named Commercial Alley.

John Akar

Needless to say, I was intrigued and while studying the plants that looked like they’d had seen better days, the owner, John Akar, appeared in the Alley, proud as a papa about his vertical garden. He said the installers had just visited the garden and declared the roots on all the plants healthy and vital.  Cava Restaurant is proud to own the first outdoor vertical garden in New England with hearty native New England perennials chosen for low maintenance and their semi-evergreen nature.

Although the wall looks a little like woolly mammoths that have been skinned and hung to dry, I can visualize flowing tussock grass, the purple leaves of coral bells, the red berries of bunchberry, lacy Christmas ferns and wintergreen soon providing a lovely atmosphere for diners on the patio of this popular restaurant.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Long Live the Queen!

There are around 200,000 different species of pollinators on earth including insects like bumblebees, butterflies and moths, birds such as hummingbirds and even animals, the bat being a commonly known one, but the number one species that we depend on for pollinating agricultural crops around the world is the honeybee. In the United States alone, the agricultural industry pays beekeepers millions of dollars yearly to migrate from farm to farm and field to field and orchard to orchard during the blooming season.  In late 2006, when entire colonies of honeybees began to collapse, the search began for a culprit behind the bee deaths. Sadly, there has not been one answer to this epidemic called Colony Collapse Disorder, but numerous causes have been singled out around the globe from viruses to pesticides to habitat to parasites to fungi to a decrease in plant diversity suspected of causing malnutrition.

Albert Einstein once said, ” If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.” He was speaking about the connection between all living things on earth in every ecosystem. One out of every three bites of food on our plate has been pollinated by honeybees.  Should you be worried? The answer is yes.  The disappearance of honeybees will change food as we know it.

A new documentary, Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by actress Ellen Page, follows two commercial beekeepers, David Hackenberg and Dave Mendes as they fulfill their migratory pollination contracts across the United States. The film explores their struggles to maintain a healthy hive and follows them to Capital Hill where they plead for help for the industry.  The documentary explores the economic and ecological implications as well as the political implications of the demise of the honeybee.  Encouraging solutions are offered that involve all of us.

This grassroots effort to bring the film to hometowns across America is the responsibility of hive members nationwide. On March 31, we can view the film at the Science Museum of  Virginia, 2500 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23220, (804) 864-1400 at 2 pm and 6:30 pm. But that’s not all.  You, too, can show the film using your local library, your home, or your school to help educate and spread the word on the plight of the honeybee and the positive changes that have occurred. For more information please click here.

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester

Eat Your Flowers!

For me, it’s always around this time of year that winter seems to go on forever. I’m simply DONE with appreciating the lovely shapes and textures of a winter garden. I’ve been teased by a few warm days and I need to see flowers and I need to touch flowers and I need to plant flowers. But I had no idea I needed to taste flowers.

White chocolate mascarpone cups with rose water and candied violas

Fellow master gardener, Marion Baker of Duchess of Gloucester Flowers arranged an educational workshop on common garden flowers that are edible. I signed up early. Marion provided the flowers and the popular chef at Gloucester’s Inn at Warner Hall, Eric Garcia, prepared the mouth watering delicacies.  Just entering the room set for high tea, I was hit with a visual smorgasbord of color that cured my winter flower withdrawal at a glance.

Chocolate truffles rolled in lavender sugar

I learned that not only can your eyes appreciate the beauty of flowers in the garden, many of those same flowers can dress up and flavor the foods we eat. While Marion lectured us on flowers we can eat and those that are poisonous, how to harvest, how to keep our harvest fresh, and the dangers of pesticides, we were served tea and an array of flower-infused, garnished or tossed choice treats from the kitchen at Warner Hall.

Marion and Eric

While we sampled from the table, Marion gave us recipes, shared her abundant knowledge and Eric added great cooking tips. We asked many questions and shared stories and we ate and we learned and we sipped our tea. I was fulfilled. Now I think I can make it through the rest of the winter.

Some of the other delicacies served were:

-Cream cheese and edible flower mix on crackers

-Smoked salmon, Boursin cheese and edible flowers on crackers

-Cheese selection of smoked cheddar and paprika, Pleasant Ridge Reserve, Wisconsin

-Pear, lavender and cornmeal cake topped with pears glazed in wildflower honey

Ann Hohenberger, The Garden Club of Gloucester