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Art was in bloom on Saturday at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. In a busy weekend of events, the gallery on Winterberry Drive hosted the Calusa Garden Club’s Gardening Expo, offering varied takes on bringing flowers and plants into your home and your life.

In the Lauritzen Gallery space, floral arrangements created by garden club members stood around the room in front of the pastels in the new Pastel Society of Southwest Florida show, demonstrating techniques including leaf manipulation, line design, underwater exhibits and floor designs. The exhibits also showed off creative naming, with one arrangement of showy blooms in a stylized ceramic vase titled “Temptress in a Teapot.”

But much of the energy was in the workshops, where expert instructors showed rooms full of floral enthusiasts how to create better blooms for themselves. Upstairs, the president of the Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance, Patricia Rose – and yes, there is just a bit of irony in her name – spoke to about 50, getting hands on with orchid cultivation, and explaining how for competitive orchid exhibiting, it is vital to have the name, and the lineage of your bloom. As an example, she showed how a Phragmipedium Noirmont orchid comes from a phrag. Longifolium and a phrag. Memoria, and the antecedents of those.

“Unless you know the name of your plant, and who the parents are, you cannot show the orchid,” she told her audience.

In the workshop space below, students who paid $60 for the class, which included all the flowers and supplies, got to create their own stunning arrangements, and take them home. Instructors Diane Hughes and Juliette Flasche led the class through assembling their spring arrangement and shared some of the classic language or code of flowers, in which peach stands for modesty, ferns for sincerity, yellow for infidelity, and snapdragons for presumption.

“So, if you received snapdragons, perhaps you’re coming on too strong,” said Hughes.

“I’m learning,” said Anne Gary as she worked on completing her piece. “This is a rustic arrangement – an arrangement, not a design.”

The parking lot was filled with an arts and crafts fair, forcing art lovers to find alternate parking – in many cases, across the street at the Jewish Congregation of Marco Island. Just to make parking more problematic, said Center for Arts executive director Hyla Crane, a flower arrangement herself in Lilly Pulitzer, burrowing owls have established a nest in the vacant lot they own next door which is usually used for overflow vehicles.

La Petite Galerie housed an exhibit of travel-inspired watercolors by Wanda Coady. And if all that weren’t enough for your, the Clay Guild sponsored an exhibit and sale of its members ceramic pieces in their adjoining space.

Garden club members also promoted, and offered for sale, their new, waterproof gardening guide, specifically tailored to the challenges and requirements of growing plants and flowers in Marco Island’s subtropical island climate. Funds from the guide, as well as the arranging classes, go to the Calusa Garden Club’s community outreach projects, including junior gardener scholarships, the butterfly garden at Calusa Park on Winterberry, and maintenance of historical monuments.

Between October and April, the club meets the second Monday of the month at Wesley United Methodist Church. For more information, go online to www.calusa.org.

 

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