The Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island decided to spread its roots in 2009 and presented its first Plant & Garden Expo on Saturday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. This year’s gift to the community subtitled “Gardening Brings Good Things to Life” also featured a small standard flower show located the wall to the left of the Parish Hall’s main entrance.
Not to worry, what the flower show section of Expo may have lacked in size was made up in stature with a proliferation of blue ribbon awards in Division II - Horticulture, titled “Grow Where You’re Planted.”
Judges were entranced by the quality of bloom and variety in Class 1 Orchidaceae, said Lindy Kowalczyk, Plant & Garden Expo co-chair with Linda Colombo, flower show committee member. Lindy co-chaired last year’s flower show and was an invaluable resource for information for your Marco Eagle reporter.
Lindy took us around both in 2008 and this year, patiently pointing out the shows’ high points and the awards as well as providing the correct spellings for names mentioned in this article.
Class 2 Bromeliads; Class 3 Cacti/succulents; Class 4 Saint paulia; Class 5 Aroids; and Class 6 Ferns also garnered their fair share of blue, yellow and red ribbons for first, second and third place respectively. Last but not least, Barbara Messner’s unusual specimen in Class 3. Cacti/succulents: Kalanchoe, gastonis-Bonnieri, won Best of Show in Division II - Horticulture.
The Division 1 design theme, “Gardener’s Delight” exhibit, had four entries and flower show co-chair Dale DeFeo’s Pot Et Fleur design won a best of show blue ribbon. Lindy explained that the requirements in this design — two or more rooted plants growing in soil combined with cut plant material and artistically arranged together as a design with growing plants emphasized — was one of the hardest things to accomplish.
This division also included four entries in Class 2 - Art in the Garden that used identical structures but allowed creative expression and Class 3 The Fruits (&/or Veggies) of our Labors, showcased four creative or traditional designs each staged on a 30-inch round table, Lindy explained.
“One of the biggest things we accomplished for the Plant & Garden Expo was getting outside vendors to participate, because it was important to this year’s Plant & Garden theme,” Lindy said. “We tried to incorporate Calusa Garden Club people as well as professional presenters. For instance, tables No. 9 through No. 12 were all certified Master Gardener people whose exhibits included information and examples of pruning, garden pests, mulch and invasive plants. They’re really nice and very helpful and knowledgeable. Did you know that they have to do a certain amount of public service presentations and plant clinics?”
Speaking of public service presentations, The Marco Eagle spoke with Michael Malloy, UF, CC University Extension Collier County’s Florida Yards & Neighborhood Outreach coordinator, who was setting up for his 2 p.m. workshop.
“We’re trying to get homeowners and condo organizations to become more Florida-friendly” Malloy stated. “I’ll be exploring topics such as Right Plants in the Right Place, Watering Efficiently, and Reduce Storm Water Runoff to name a few of our nine guiding principles, and explain how homeowners and condos can use these guidelines and still have a Florida yard without all the pollution.”
The Plant & Garden Expo offered seven workshops held on the hour (approximately) from 10:15 a.m. through 3 p.m. presented by Malloy, as well as the Calusa Garden Club members Connie Lowry, Marianne Foley and Bonnie Coleman; Glenn Stachell, author of Florida Wildflowers; Chad Washburn of Naples Botanical Garden; and vendors Eileen Ward, owner of Greensward of Marco, and Ian Orlikoff, of Signature Tree Care. In addition, there were 19 exhibitor and vendor booths and tables set up inside the Parish Hall including six exhibits created by Calusa Garden Club members.
Sue Oldershaw, exhibits chairperson, created “Best Plants for Marco Island” based on the expertise she acquired during her 30-year residency on Marco Island. Her exhibit included a free handout “Best Plants for Marco Island (Coastal Subtropical Zone 10B,” a comprehensive listing of every compatible plant for the area and then some.
Calusa Garden Club member exhibits included Container Gardening by Frances Diebler; Virginia Reed on Native Plants; Linda Colombo’s Butterflies; Elaine Reiman on Birds of Prey; and Eva Schliesser’s Herbs.
There were lots of things to see outdoors including the 13 outside vendors’ booths like the local Island Garden Center and the Ft. Myers-based Deep South Natives booth that was notable for a dazzling bromeliad display and a unique, teeny tillisandia that lured us closer with its clove-scented flower. Lindy made sure we saw everything!
“We need to get them connected – the professionals — with the everyday people,” Lindy said emphatically. She brought us over to the Jr.Gardener’s (guided by Linda Walker) face painting and a planting activity project (raising worms and planting radishes) that was located out in the courtyard where Calusa Garden Club President Opie DeFalco was temporarily minding the store but not too busy to share her thoughts about the Plant & Garden Expo.
“It was really exciting because we got to do something extraordinary that involved a lot of people in the community as well as many business people and professional horticulturists.”