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This Month in GCA History - March


March 13, 2018

For nearly fifty years, the month of March gave The Garden Club of America a stage for two of its most important objectives, to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and to protect the quality of the environment through educational programs. Each year from 1921, the GCA, its clubs, and their members, participated in the International Flower Show in New York City.

Flower shows, then and now an important activity for GCA clubs throughout the country, draw in the public with creative floral designs, common and rare specimens of plants from members’ gardens, exhibits highlighting conservation issues and remediation efforts, and often opportunities to showcase historic garden preservation.

The International Flower Show was so widely attended — in 1928, there were more than 108,000 visitors — that it became an important, much-anticipated part of the GCA year. GCA exhibits, always fan favorites, demonstrated gardening techniques for suburban homes and often included beds of live flowers and vegetables, boxwood hedges, and iron seats and perhaps a table beneath a potted tree. Horticultural exhibits brought garden club members together to compete in classes of tulips, irises, and seemingly endless numbers of other flowers. For each class, or exhibit category, prizes were awarded. Special gold medals and certificates of merit joined traveling silver cups at the presentation ceremony.

Today, GCA clubs sponsor flower shows and participate in large shows sponsored by other organizations, including the Philadelphia Horticultural Society and the Preservation Society of Newport County. While entertaining for visitors and participants, flower shows have a serious purpose: they set standards of artistic and horticultural excellence, broaden knowledge of horticulture, floral design, conservation, photography, and related disciplines, and afford GCA clubs the opportunity to share the beauty of a show with fellow club members and the public.

The International Flower Show ran from 1913-70 and was sponsored by the Horticultural Society of New York and the New York Florists’ Club.  It was a victim of  increasing costs and evolution in the society’s mission to focus more resources on continuing community programming, according to The New York Times.


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