Category: Floral arrangements

Ready for the Flower Show

Ready for the Flower Show

Flower shows are fun, worthwhile activities for everyone, providing opportunities to display and view examples of the many beautiful flowers and plants grown in our area and shown as specimens or in beautiful floral designs. Each year, Chester Garden Club Flower Show committee organizes the annual flower show, ensuring opportunities for all members to assist and including members and community of all ages. The Show Schedule provides all of the details needed to prepare and stage exhibits for entry, including Entry Classes, Show Rules, Show Tips, Definitions and a summary of Trophies and Awards. Judging is done by NSAGC Judges whose decisions are final.

The team has been working together for many months. The theme, schedule, tags, ribbons, venue, tables and staging plans, tea, sandwiches and sweets are some of the details that have been finalized.

On Monday, at our July 17th meeting we were treated to information and demonstrations to help with this year’s schedule. Thank you to Nancy, Sidney, Jane, Jocelyn and Myra.


We are looking forward to our flower show, “Celebrating Canada 150” on July 27th, 1:30 to 5 pm., a show that breaks gardening boundaries and blends tradition with unexpected innovative design.

Delightful June Meeting

Delightful June Meeting

image1June 19th was a special meeting at the Chester Garden Club. We were able to honour one of our long time dedicated members, Herb Fraser with “Outstanding Member of The Year”. He was very surprised but pleased with the award. Well deserved for all of the work he has done preparing and taking care of so many important gardens in the village.


Following the presentation, Nancy Guest wowed us with her display of window boxes and gardening for seniors. She had three displays. One window box for the shade, another for the full sun. Her selection of plants were delightful. They varied in texture and lots of colour. Her wooden ladder garden or porch display was a combination of flowering pots, ornamental bird houses and potted greens.







Lunches are always a delight and usually incorporate a little arranging
each month. Thank you Myra for these additions to the table.

Thanks to Jocelyn and Jayne for the pictures and content for this post.

New Designs

New Designs

On Monday, October 17th, Myra skillfully presented a workshop on the Crescent Design to members of Chester Garden Club. Preparation of container, oasis and already conditioned and prepared plant material was explained to all as some anxiously, some impatiently, waited to begin.

Myra challenged and assissted as we produced our design that followed the basic form while she also encouraged individual creativity.

The beautiful results were unique to each arranger, each meeting the design requirement.

If participant smiles of achievement and results are any indication of future competition in the Chester Garden Club Flower Show, especially the Crescent Design Class, we can all look forward to many stunning entries.



On May 16th Chester Garden Club members and guests learned that Ikebana is the art of space as Miyako Ballesteros quietly demonstrated the centuries old art of Japanese Flower arranging.


2016-05-16 19.27.18We learned that Miyako was born in Nagano, raised in Saitama, lived in Hong Kong and Tokyo before moving to Halifax in 2007. Miyako is a qualified instructor in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana and has a Teacher’s Diploma 2nd grade JōninSanyo and is an active teaching member of the Sogetsu Teachers Association and a member-at-large of the Ikebana International.

Miyako told us one of the happier moments in her life is in that peaceful state of mind when she forms a bond with flowers, branches and leaves.

May 16th IMGP1787Ikebana art is based on the three main elements: first energy to Heaven , second human and then earth. The arrangement has one main focal point. We learned that spaces between flowers & branches form an essential part of the whole creation. Empty space is created not filled.

To begin creating her arrangement, Miyako chose three main branches, measuring and turning to chose the position , cutting under water and then placing her secateurs on a small towel to maintain the quiet . As Miyako worked gracefully in silence with skill and concentration the room had a gradual increased feeling of calm. As she placed the stems into the kenzan, the viewers watched closely in silence.

May 16th IMGP1818Later, when the arrangements were viewed, descriptions and comments included: beautiful, very peaceful, meditative, graceful, elegant and serene.

She and her husband, Ferdinand have a shop at 6417 Quinpool Road in Halifax where they are dedicated to the promotion of Ikebana in their adopted home.  They give lessons, demonstrations & workshops; have arrangement services; and operate a retail store.

Christmas Greenery Workshop

Christmas Greenery Workshop

Following Chester Garden Club’s recent Annual General Meeting (a brief but informative presentation of reports), members gathered around work tables where evergreens and a variety of decorative ‘add-ons’ were available to one and all for the purpose of creating individual table decorations for the holidays. The next event will take place on November 28th when Club members will turn out to decorate the village Bandstand with evergreen boughs and Christmas lights.

Flower Show Practice

Flower Show Practice

This month’s meeting, Monday, July 20th, started early with a tour of Stewart M.’s charming garden. Please see the gallery below for some digital glimpses. Our regular club meeting concentrated on practice–practice making new designs. Members Myra K., Sydney S. and Jane W. lent their expertise to inspire us all to create floral arrangements with flair. Myra reviewed traditional mass designs and introduced us to the modern mass.

Characteristics of Traditional Mass Design

  • Generally a geometric shape
  • Stems radiating from a central point
  • Flowers equally distributed throughout the design
  • Smaller flowers (transitional) placed between larger ones with spaces between.
  • Design size approximately one to one and one half that of the largest dimension of the container.

Myra emphasized that this design type is already well known to CGC members.

Characteristics of Modern Mass Design

  • Bold containers in larger proportion than in Traditional design.
  • Few components in large forms.
  • No elements of transition as in traditional design.
  • Design has a sculptural feel and relies on sharp contrast.
  • Plant material is grouped to form a mass of volume.
  • Materials do not intermingle.
  • The sculptural form is three-dimensional and incorporates space, positive and negative.
  • It is recommended to use only three to five different elements.

Sydney demonstrated the assembly of a Parallel design. (A design in which three or more groupings are placed in a parallel manner with open spaces between the groupings. Parallel direction may vertical, horizontal or diagonal. Design is in one container of containers combined so as to appear as one unit.

Jane W. concluded by encouraging members to try their hand at cup and saucer designs which this year takes on a new tack—a design using a tea cup, not necessarily a design inside a tea cup. Be sure to check out the Show Schedule to decide which designs you intend to enter.

New this year as well — We have been asked to make our “reservations” for our entries to ensure space will be available.

The evening was capped off by another beautiful design—our snack table, ably fashioned by Joanne J. and Tom F.

Myra provided the following pictures of traditional and mass designs to aid you in your plant selections.  And, in case your missed it, enjoy the photo gallery of Stewart M.’s fabulous garden that we toured earlier in the evening.

75th Anniversary Flower Show and Tea

75th Anniversary Flower Show and Tea

In keeping with tradition, a bounty of colourful displays greeted visitors when the Chester Garden Club held its 75th Anniversary Flower Show and Tea at the Chester Legion Hall on July 24th.  Using the theme “Reflections”, the Flower Show Committee named the 16 classes in the design section for institutions and events that were linked to the Club’s seven decades of history. A list of the winners of awards and trophies can be seen by clicking on the  hyperlink Chester Garden Club 2014 Flower Show Specimens Designs and Trophies

The following gallery shows some of the winners and prize-winning entries. To enlarge  a photo, simply click on the image.


The gallery below contains a sampling of the shots taken in the morning when a crowd of volunteers helped the exhibitors to register, organized the tables for horticultural and design displays, and started to set up the kitchen workstations.  Another selection of photos, showing more exhibits and familiar faces, will follow in a day or two.

An Ikebana Workshop

An Ikebana Workshop

The oriental art of flower arranging has fascinated westerners for years. A recent meeting of the Naples (Florida) chapter of Ikebana International displayed many examples of prize-winning arrangements created according to rules laid down in three schools:  Sogetsu, Ohara and Ikenobo.  The event also provided two members of the Chester Garden Club with a unique opportunity to watch a master of the art at work.


Naples resident, Mah Tavallali,  who studied in  South Korea to earn her IM Wha Kong Diploma as a master of the Ohara School of Ikebana, gave an interesting demonstration on  creating arrangements.  She emphasized Ikebana’s Zen-like approach to dealing with nature and that, as its practitioners learn to appreciate and work with natural materials in creating pleasing designs, they also learn the value of patience.  Most of the photos included in this post show arrangements done by members of the Naples Club.  The one above, on the right, was done as an  Ikenobo freestyle, using Umbrella Papyrus stems bent to create geometric patterns, offset by Calathea blossoms.

Ohara School, landscape style, incorporating Pine Branch, Norfolk Pine, Lantana flowers
Ohara School, landscape style, incorporating Pine Branch, Norfolk Pine, and Lantana flowers.

Ikebana as in Ohara School
An Ohara arrangement; Tokonomo-Nageire in a basket. The plant material includes Banana leaf, Helconia, Pussy willow and Queen Anne’s lace.

Surrounded by a large supply of exotic floral material that she had gathered from local Florida gardens in  preparation for her talk, Mah explained that there were many subdivisions in the Ikebana classification.  In the Ohara school,  the “rising” or “slanting” forms can be either small, with two main stems forming the subject and object, or larger with three main stems forming subject, secondary subject and object. The subjects may be composed of similar material but the secondary version can have a different shape or texture. It is subservient to the main subject and usually placed in front of it.  The object is usually about half the height of the main subject. Once the main elements are placed, they are surrounded by “fillers” – plant material that differs from the subject and object.  Pointing out that curves are always preferable to straight lines in any arrangement, Mah actually changed the appearance of straight stems in her designs by bending the stalks to form a shape that would conform to the  “curve” principle.

Ikebana arrangment
Black sprayed Bamboo roots, white Phalaenopsis orchids, and Aspidistra leaves sprayed with gold, were used in this Sogetsu, Tokonomo style arrangement.

Red Anthuriums, yellow Oncidium Orchids and Papyrus are combined in an Ikenobo arrangement.
Red Anthuriums, yellow Oncidium Orchids and Papyrus are combined in an Ikenobo arrangement.










Stressing the principle that the flowers and stems should bend upward and not gloomily downward, Mah added that the stems of subjects and objects should not touch each other, that it was important to leave space between all the elements of an arrangement. She also mentioned that the triangle shape is very important in Ikebana, whether in the upward shaping of an arrangement or in the simple placing of three objects on a horizontal surface.   As seen in the photo below (right), Mah often stripped most of the leaves from a branch if she wanted to reveal the shape of the branch or any fruit that might be hanging from it.

Chrysanthemums and Honeysuckle are tucked into a crescent moon shape in this Ikenobo design.

This Ohara arrangement uses two woody stalks, stripped almost bare of leaves , and a lily blossom as the object.



Ultimately, the images and explanations in this post provide only a mere glimpse of the many fascinating ways in which Ikebana arrangements can be created, especially when sub-tropical foliage and flowers are available, as in Florida.  More information is of course available  in libraries and on the internet.  We hope, however, that this brief joint post (by Sylvia and Joan) will  serve to inspire gardeners and wanna-be floral arrangers in more northern climes where, by following similar principles but using  local plants, they can produce their own lovely arrangements.

Flower Show Workshop

Flower Show Workshop

In anticipation of the approaching Flower Show, Chester Garden Club’s July meeting focused on techniques for preparing entries in the various classes.

joanne demo workshopJoanne began the workshop by discussing the factors that judges consider when awarding points for horticultural specimens (Division 1 in the Show).  In addition to the requirements that specimens be exhibited in clear glass containers, she gave tips regarding the inclusion (or not) of stems and foliage, and the status of stamens (fresh or beginning to age) in blooming specimens.  She also explained the one-third rule of thumb for a tall stem flower: one third each of tight buds, partially open buds, and fully open blooms.

hat formsDiscussion about changes in the regulations governing the judging along with such tips as the importance of conditioning leaves and flowers in advance were part of the general workshop experience.  A number of mannequin “heads” were available for those who planned to enter the Hats Off creative headgear class.

sidney wearing floral hatSidney provided a number of tips concerning preparation of floral elements as she illustrated the techniques she used in creating two sample “hats”, the sort of arrangement that would be entered in class 40 of this year’s show: a flower hat on a mannequin form.

jane illustrating teacup arrangemenetsJane demonstrated the art of creating arrangements in a teacup (class 35 in this year’s show). Instead of the standard florist’s hard-foam Oasis ™ , she used cedar twigs and heather to anchor the tiny flower stems in the delicate china cup. As she worked on the arrangements,  she pointed out various points to be considered when conditioning and creating these tiny displays. She also advised exhibitors to bring along a small pair of sharp scissors to the show for final trimming if necessary before handing over the entry.

To conclude the workshop, Sidney created a beautiful little bouquet  (an example for class 38) from a selection of wildflowers that she wound together as a posie tied off with raffia streamers.  The enthusiastic reaction of Club members to the workshop should translate to a large number of entries in the show, which takes place on July 25th.  More information is available by clicking on the menu item at the top of this blog.

Elements and Principles of Floral Design

Elements and Principles of Floral Design

Myra presented a primer on the elements of floral design.
Myra presented a primer on the elements of floral design.

At a recent meeting of the Chester Garden Club, about two dozen members showed up to learn about the elements of design as applied to flower arranging in sanctioned competitions. Illustrating her talk with a large number of images of varied designs, Myra drew on her knowledge and experience as a flower show judge to outline the basic principles that are used by accredited judges to determine the prize-winners when studying entries in  provincial and national flower show competitions. The universal elements of design include space, line, form, colour, texture and pattern. It is the arrangement of these elements according to the general principles of design, which are the factors that are considered during the judging of arrangements.

Colour is a compelling element in this arrangement with a theme of “Fire”.

In brief, the principles of design involve balance (both in colour and in symmetry or asymmetry), rhythm within the arrangement, proportion of plant material to container, scale of individual components vis-à-vis the others, contrast of colour or shape, and dominance  of one element over the rest.

spiral motion
Structure, such as a visual path — in this case a spiral line — is a key element.

Design showing a contrast in colour and texture.
Design showing a contrast in colour and texture.

an arrangement of wildflowers, showing attention to form, colour, pattern and texture.
An arrangement of wildflowers, showing attention to form, colour, pattern and texture.

In a move to encourage young people to take an interest in Chester’s annual Flower Show,  Myra has run a short course for local children, where she teaches the basic principles and encourages lots of hands-on experimentation in arrangements. Her efforts have already brought dividends as several of her young pupils have won prizes in the children’s class of local flower show competitions in the last two years.

Myra's school
Myra and her young pupils display some of their own creations.

Members who attended the presentation as part of their own preparation for entering floral arrangements in this year’s Flower Show and Tea, enjoyed sampling the refreshments offered before the business meeting.  Danielle took advantage of the meeting to promote the fund-raising raffle that is being held in conjunction with this year’s show.

Danielle encourages all CGC members to support the raffle of an artisan's handiwork.
Danielle encourages all CGC members to support the raffle of an artisan’s handiwork.

Tulips are a welcome sign of spring on the refreshment table.
Tulips are a welcome sign of spring on the refreshment table.

The screen is a metal frame holding six hand-hooked samplers with scenes typical of Nova Scotia’s South Shore. A photo of the screen can be found on the page “Flower Show and Tea” (see menu at top of this page).