garden club

Garden club members Kathy Minnock (from left), Hadassah Kneppel, Nancy Baker, Judy Pooley, DJ Jost, Judy Coonley, and Kate Connelly celebrate the club’s 90 anniversary.

The Falmouth Garden Club finalized its celebration of its 90th anniversary with a program featuring floral arrangements that reflect the historical trends and cultural events of each of the nine decades since the club’s founding in 1931. Provisional members and their mentors met at the First Congregational Church of Falmouth on November 1 to display to the general membership floral arrangements created to depict historical details of one of the nine decades that the club was celebrating. The audience was taken back in time as each presenter captivated the highlights of each decade using their individual creativity.

Beginning in 1931, presenters Mary Lane and Karen Dusini began by honoring Emily Wheeler, who, along with her husband, started Ashumet Farm in Hatchville. In the 1930s Mrs. Wheeler was a founder and two-term president of the Falmouth Garden Club. An avid gardener herself, she started the Junior Gardeners program in the Falmouth Public Schools. Like Ms. Wheeler, the presenters themselves have extensive gardens and created their arrangement using flowers from their gardens: a combination of Solomon seal, andromeda, elderberry, grasses, hydrangea, celosia and calla lilies. The arrangement was a traditional mass design with a relaxed “S”-shaped curve. This design was popularized by legendary British florist Constance Spry in the 1920s. It was true to the period as appropriate metal frogs and cages were employed to shape and hold the arrangement. Presenters chose additional roses and a little bird figure to complete the arrangement.

For the 1940s, presenters Liz Whitcher and Cindy Kaleskas looked in the archives of The Falmouth Enterprise. It turned out that Falmouth had a thriving gardening culture in the 1940s. Lectures on native plants, wildflowers and creating outdoor living rooms were offered to the public. The Falmouth Garden Club established “Victory Gardens” throughout Falmouth and organized teams of volunteers to help strawberry farmers. The Walsh Rose Garden was installed in Woods Hole, and for this FGC won state and national merit awards for the installation of this garden and a herb garden at the Falmouth Historical Society. For their floral arrangement, inspired by history and available plants in their gardens, the presenters centered three canning jars on a tray. The jars contained branches of highbush blueberry and mountain laurel, lime-green seed pods of dill and stems of blue/green oregano, black-eyed Susans and miniature daisy-like white flowers of wild chamomile, strawberry plant runners, sherbet and pink rosebuds, and, as a nod to Victory Gardens, maroon beet greens, spikes of green onion and stalks of rhubarb. Additionally, vintage postcards and personal family photos completed the 1940s arrangement.

The arrangement from the 1950s decade originated with a piece of borrowed McCoy pottery that was glazed yellow in a cornucopia shape. Presenters Hadassah Kneppel and Kathy Minnock used period pink flowers including roses, carnations and lilies, which epitomized the fancy ladies who were featured in the magazines of that era. The Oasis floral foam, which was invented in 1954 and revolutionized floral arranging, was used to shape this arrangement. As typical of the decade, a doily and a lovely teacup sat beside the arrangement.

Nancy Baker presented an arrangement symbolic of the bold colors and big shapes of the 1960s. Pop art provided a lighter mood to the radical activities of the 1960s. Inspired by the art of Peter Max, the presenters used bright daisies and carnations accented by large leaf philodendron leaves to create a sense of psychedelic and pop art of the decade.

In the decade of the 1970s, from public protest of the Vietnam War across college campuses to choices in personal fashion, people sought a means of self-expression and social change. The Watergate scandal, NOW formation, Three Mile Island, and the Middle East crisis dominated the news. Other key identifiers of the decade were miniskirts, bell bottoms and polyester. The dominant colors were orange, avocado and hot pinks. “Love Story,” “Grease,” “Saturday Night Fever,” the Rolling Stones, Queen, Aretha Franklin, Carole King and James Taylor ruled the airwaves. Presenters DJ Jost and Rosanne Mili took their inspiration of the decade to create a floral arrangement with a large silver-sprayed allium blossom as a disco ball centerpiece of the piece. Additionally, other dried allium blossoms were sprayed orange and yellow and arranged with palm leaves that were manipulated into oval shapes and spray-painted orange and avocado green. The floral design was filled in with seed pods sprayed gold and silver and softened with various grasses.

The floral arrangements of the 1980s reflected the “big” events of the decade. The first space shuttle lifted off, the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall fell. The 1980s were known for big hair, New Wave, punk rock, Rubik’s cubes and Walkmans. Kate Connolly and Judy Coonley designed an arrangement using showy exotic flowers paired with often-used artificial accents such as feather plumes, that were characteristic of the decade. They used a “showy” glass container to display elegant upright and cascading white orchid stems, pink apple bloom, baby’s breath and peach feather plumes as a “big” tribute to the 1980s.

For the 1990s the design team of Sonia Smith and Patti Ricardelli chose Broadway’s musical “The Lion King.” Beginning with stone platforms with Oasis, the centerpiece was a sumac branch that drew the eye to its soft brownish color. Added twigs with bittersweet berries surrounded the sumac to continue the desert-like feeling. For added color, horsetail grasses were filled with miscanthus grass, which provided green color and curved shape. Coneflower pods at the base of the sumac tree represented the Lion King, Simba and Nala, the lioness partner to Simba; and acorns represented their cubs, the next generation. The lower-level stone piece had a partially opened datura pod representing Scar, the disgraced challenger to Simba, surrounded by green lichen representing the hyenas who destroy Scar. Finally, neutral miscanthus fronds were scattered throughout the arrangement to soften the stone.

In the final decade presentation of the 2000s, after surviving Y2K, this floral arrangement represented a decade of turmoil and gloom juxtaposed with the dawning of a new technological and computer age. The twin towers tragedy and Hurricane Katrina dominated culture. Yet, computers and pop culture emerged to offer anyone an opportunity to be a star through internet accessibility. The arrangement featured an angled computer keyboard flanked by blackened hosta stalks representing the twin towers. On one side dried hydrangea and colorless astilbe blooms symbolized the suffering of the times and on the other side hope was evident in the vibrant colors of mums and hydrangea blooms that had retained their color.

All attending members expressed appreciation to the presenters for their inspirational floral arrangements showing how gardening and floral arrangements reflected the traditions of the times. Diverse approaches to historical expression offered the attendees examples of multiple techniques in floral arranging. Additionally, artifacts from each decade were on display throughout the room, collected from displays showcased at the September 90th Gala held at Highfield Hall. This meeting closed the club’s yearlong celebration of its first 90 years and provided a firm foundation for the next decade, which will bring the club to its 100th year.

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