The War of the Roses

Garden Scene
Photos courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Photos courtesy of Atlanta Botanical Garden

Intrepid gardeners vie for honors when the new Botanical Garden Flower Show brings a Hollywood-themed exhibition to Atlanta. 

Even in the sunny South, gardens grow brown and shriveled this time of year, leaving green thumbs frustrated and forlorn. But the new Atlanta Botanical Garden Flower Show — a revival of the Southeastern Flower Show — may be just the antidote to winter doldrums.

In its heyday, the exhibition, which ended in 2013, had blossomed into the premier gardening and horticultural event in the Southeast and once ranked among the top three flower shows in the country.

“We’re not attempting to be a huge flower show like those in the past,” says Danny Flanders, public relations manager for Atlanta Botanical Garden. “We want to start small and see where it goes.”

Atlanta-Botanical-Gardens---unicornShowcasing Talent
Flanders says visitors to the Botanical Garden, which always had been involved in the flower show, frequently asked about renewing the exhibition during the past several years. “Every major city has a flower show,” he says. “It was time to bring one back.”

This year’s theme is Ingenue: A Toast to Georgia’s Film Industry, and the exhibit will center around juried competition in floral design, horticulture and photography.

The floral design category will showcase the art of flower arranging, and competitions will vie for honors in classes including drama, science fiction, comedy/tragedy, horror, romantic comedy and animation. In addition, entrants can compete in the leading lady class in which they must create a dress design arrangement inspired by a famous actress. 

Competitors will try to propagate the most perfect example of a given species in the horticulture division, and they must include a growing thing in images entered in the photography contest. In addition, visitors can view small garden displays in the landscape design division, which will be created by Boxwoods, Ed Castro Landscape, Hamilton Land Services and Unique Environmental. 

Atlanta-Botanical-GardensExperts and Inspiration
Saturday speakers will feature floral designers Bruno Duarte and James Farmer. The lectures will be held from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Piedmont Driving Club, and tickets are $50.

Duarte grew up surrounded by flowers on his family’s farm in Madeira, an island paradise off the coast of Morocco that is known as the floating garden and is home to rare species of flowers from around the world. With a sculptural and an emotional approach to floral design, he blends organic materials and found objects together to create works of art. 

His floral studio in Toronto is often mistaken for an art gallery, where weekly window displays are created to showcase his artistry. When Duarte is not at his studio, he can be found designing in front of a live audience. He frequently appears on local and national television programs, and gives floral demonstrations at Home and Garden shows. He is also a regular contributor to magazines in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Farmer is the author of the Wall Street Journal best-selling garden book, A Time To Plant; Sip & Savor; Porch Living; Wreaths For All Seasons; A Time To Cook, Dinner on the Grounds, A Time to Celebrate and A Place to Call Home. Born and bred in the South, Farmer is a professional garden, floral and interior designer, cook, author and lifestyle expert. He also is editor-at-large for Southern Living and a frequent guest on television and radio programs.  

One of the best parts of the show will be seeing what a clever mind can do when given an idea and told to run with it. Past themes like Myth, Fable and Fantasy; At the Movies; Salute to the Century; The Artist’s Eye and Rhythm in Bloom have inspired countless whimsical and ingenious creations. 

Imagine designing a garden around an abandoned pickup truck, as one landscape design firm did for Laughter in the Garden, or recreating a scene from Agatha Christie’s 4:50 from Paddington, in which a woman witnesses a murder from her train car, with just flowers, as one floral designer did for Gardens of Poetry and Prose.

It may not be quite the same as strolling amongst the glitz and glamour of a movie set. However, you’ll no doubt come away from the event impressed by the creativity and ready to look at your outdoor spaces in a fresh, cinematic way.

“In the wintertime, everybody gets starved for flowers and plants,” says Flanders. “We hope the show will inspire people to use some of the ideas in their own gardens.”

If You Go:

What: Atlanta Botanical Garden Flower Show

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Friday, February 23 – Sunday, February 25 

Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden 

How Much: Free for nonmembers with admission to botanical garden – $21.95 adults; $15.95 children ages 3 – 12, $10 for members 

More Info: atlantabg.org 

By Leigh Howard