A look at this year’s Garden & Landscape Expo Standard Flower Show: A Q&A with the Madison District’s Garden Clubs

February 11, 2022 Ian Lewitz Leave a Comment

PBS Wisconsin’s Garden & Landscape Expo is a three-day event Feb. 11-13 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison that offers more than 100 free educational presentations, an exhibitor mall, insight from UW-Madison Extension Horticulture experts, a floral design competition and more.

Garden & Landscape Expo will be a masked event. All attendees are required to wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. Thank you for your cooperation with this important safety requirement.

Featured at this year’s expo is a Standard Flower Show, titled Gardening Through the Years, presented by the Madison District’s Garden Clubs. The show reflects floral design and gardening trends since the Colonial Era. Along with floral designs from traditional to modern, garden club members will display their talents in horticulture and botanical arts including wreaths and collages. National Garden Clubs judges will evaluate exhibits, and viewers are welcome to vote for their favorite each day of Garden & Landscape Expo. The Standard Flower Show is available to view every day of Garden & Landscape Expo.

In anticipation of the event, we spoke with Gerianne Holzman, who serves as the chair of the Madison District’s Garden Clubs flower shows at Garden & Landscape Expo.

PBS Wisconsin: What is the Madison District’s Garden Club?

Gerianne Holzman: The Madison District Garden Clubs are part of our larger organization, the Wisconsin Garden Club Federation, which is part of our national organization, the National Garden Clubs, Inc. NGC is the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world with members across the country and in Central and South America.

The Madison District Garden Clubs are six garden clubs with 148 members across Dane County. The clubs are the Olbrich Garden Club, Sun Prairie Garden Club, Westside Garden Club, Sunset Garden Club, Mound Vue Garden Club and Sugar River Gardeners. In 2022, Westside celebrates their 100th year, and Sunset celebrated 80 years in 2021. Clubs are involved with many civic projects from caring for gardens at police precincts, fire stations, the Arboretum, school gardens, main street plantings, etc. The Madison District also sponsors scholarships for graduating high school students pursuing interests in horticulture, the environment, etc.

PBS Wisconsin: Tell us a little bit about your role in the Madison District’s Garden Club.

Gerianne Holzman: Currently, I serve as the chair of our flower shows at Garden Expo. Previously, I have been the Madison District Director. I also served as our Wisconsin Garden Club President in 2015-2017. For National Garden Clubs, I am the editor of our flagship magazine, The National Gardener, and serve as the corresponding secretary. I am also an NGC five-star member, which means I have reached Master status in all four of our schools: Environmental, Floral Design, Gardening and Landscape Design.

PBS Wisconsin: What is a Standard Flower Show exactly? What does that mean? What are the standards and who sets them?

Gerianne Holzman: An NGC Flower Show is a flower show that conforms to the standards set by the National Garden Clubs. The purpose of a flower show is to educate club members and the viewing public, stimulate interest in horticulture and floral design, provide an outlet for creative expression, and communicate NGC goals and objectives. (National Garden Clubs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the love of gardening, floral design and civic and environmental responsibility, and we help coordinate the interests and activities of state and local garden clubs in the U.S. and abroad.)

The requirements of a Standard Flower Show are:

  • It must be planned and staged by a NGC club, district, council or state.
  • Fresh plant material must be emphasized and encouraged throughout the show.
  • A show schedule must be written which includes all of the rules of the show.
  • Horticulture and design divisions must be included.
  • The show must be judged by NGC Accredited Judges.
  • The NGC system of awarding must be followed — all exhibits are judged against perfection.

PBS Wisconsin: This year’s Standard Flower show is titled Gardening Through the Years. Tell me about the different elements and themes involved in this year’s floral design.

Gerianne Holzman: We have four divisions in our show this year. The first is Horticulture where participants bring in plants or cut specimens to be judged. To enter an exhibit, one must have been growing the plant for at least three months. The next division is Design. We have six design classes with the following themes and styles:

  • Colonial America: Still Life Design
  • Victorian: Mass Design
  • Art Deco: Angular Design
  • Mid-Century Modern: Design of Any Style
  • Age of Aquarius: Tubular Design
  • The Future: Framed Spatial

These styles range from traditional to advanced designs. Our Education division includes two exhibits: one showing how communities step up to help others through gardening and the other showing how garden clubs have changed over the years. The final division is Botanical Arts with wreaths, swags and collages. All titles work with our theme of Gardening Through the Years.

PBS Wisconsin: What would you tell someone interested in floral design?

Gerianne Holzman:  Just try it! I never ever was interested in floral design, but my late sister talked me into taking a class with her through Madison Area Technical College (MATC). Something clicked, and five years later, I was still taking the class, then taught the class for five years. This led to my involvement in garden clubs since my original instructor/mentor was a garden club member. (That MATC class was way back in 1980!) Everyone loves flowers, and you really cannot go wrong when you put flowers together. Starting with a simple bouquet and working your way into more complicated designs is fun and challenging.

PBS Wisconsin: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Garden & Landscape Expo?

Gerianne Holzman: Being back in-person at Expo is absolutely the thing that excites me the most. I have been going to Expo since it started in the television studios on campus. It is always the first breath of spring after a dreary winter. We are so excited to have our show be featured front and center at Expo, quite an honor. We are also presenting a Challenge Design on stage [the Floral Design Challenge will take place Saturday, Feb. 12 from 2:30-3:15 p.m, on stage A] where four designers will create floral masterpieces in front of an audience without knowing what materials they will have for their designs. (Most people spend weeks planning their designs for a show.) It should be fun, entertaining and educational.

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