Astry Rodriguez/Daily Senior Staffer

After more than a year of planning and months of growing flowers, gardeners showcased their nature-centered artistry at the Garden Club of America Flower Show.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

More than 100 types of flowers, ranging from bright purple Spanish bluebells and spiky tall lady ferns to fiery red rex begonias and star-shaped pink azaleas, filled the Immanuel Lutheran Church on Thursday. The church was decorated for the first Garden Club of America Flower Show, co-hosted by the Garden Guild of Winnetka and the Garden Club of Evanston. 

The gardens featured floral displays for each of the elemental themes: air, earth, fire and water. 

The Air theme included dining table flower centerpieces and the Earth theme pieces combined various plants in glass vases and wood stumps. Vibrant plants of fiery oranges and reds were featured in the Fire theme display. 

The Water theme displayed muted, light-colored flowers, with some in transparent flat vases.

“It’s about conservation and horticulture and being creative with floral designs and photography,” said Dora Aalbregtse, the flower show’s co-chair. 

At the show, flowers and plants were grouped into sections of container-grown plants and cut specimens. Aalbregtse said the plants were also separated by sections based on the technique used to arrange them, including garden arrangements, woody plants and kokedama –– a Japanese method that wraps rooted plants in moss using a fishing line. 

The organizations have been planning the show for more than a year, according to Aalbregtse. 

Florists from across the country submitted photograph entries for the show. Debbie Ross, the show’s photography chair, said GCA plans the photography category by creating themes based around issues addressed in the organization’s position papers. These papers, which are given to government officials, advocate for legislation on recycling and protection for agriculture and native plants.

“The idea was to get people to think out of the box and about what our position papers mean,” Ross said. 

For “Go Native,” one of the photography category themes, photographers were asked to submit works that feature native plants from their area. 

GCA also presented awards in horticulture, floral design and photography categories at the show. 

Evanston Grows, a garden center focused on fighting food insecurity, presented an educational exhibit at the show. The exhibit included a garden display with pots with plants in each stage of growth, illustrating different gardening techniques.

The Evanston Grows also provided pamphlets that included information about how attendees could become involved with the organization. The handouts detail the home, community and partner gardens managed by members of Evanston Grows. 

Floral co-Chair Pam Elesh, who set up the Evanston Grows exhibit, said the exhibit aims to show the importance of community-grown produce in beautifying the city, helping pollinators and local wildlife and fighting food insecurity. 

“Young people, older people, kids, everybody’s involved with gardening,” Elesh said. “It’s important because we give away a lot of things to people that need food, (like) fresh produce. Then they’re learning how to grow.”

GCA member Cinda Pittman, who is also part of The Garden Club of Barrington, said she decided to attend the show because she loves to see flower arrangements. 

“The quality of the flower specimens is amazing,” Pittman said. “The flowers in the arrangements are just beautifully put together. They’re just gorgeous.” 

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