WESTMINSTER — Planning a flower show often spans an entire growing season.
While the potential exhibits are growing in their garden beds, organizersdecide on a theme and establish the ground rules.
Exhibitors don't just snip a few flowers from their back yards, stick them in a vase, add water and carry them to the exhibit hall.
The Carroll Garden Club spent nearly a year choosing "Works of the Masters" as the theme for its evaluated standard flower show, which ran for two days last month at the Westminster Riding Club.
As earlyas the summer of 1990, members were encouraged to grow what they would be exhibiting. The club also scheduled classes instructing memberson which seeds they should cultivate for each category of the judging process.
"We wanted to educate the public to the variety of plants in our area," said Mary Ellen Bay, who was in charge of the show'sspecial exhibits. "We also wanted to get our members interested in what they could do in the way of display."
Exhibitors in the display category were instructed to interpret selected masterpieces of art through floral arrangements.
"Interpreting doesn't mean matching,"said Bay. "The arranger uses flowers to depict the artist's symbolism, picking up on colors, lines or rhythm."
The planning blossomed into a show displaying more than 350 pieces of horticulture, four educational exhibits and about 25 interpretive designs.
About 400 people attended and admired the exhibits, strolling through the rooms and stopping at each exhibit in much the same way as they would at a museum.
"It was the biggest and best show we have ever had," said Barbara C. Peck, past president and co-chairman of awards. "The turnoutwas great."
Bay called gardening the "No. 1 leisure activity in the United States" and said more and more men are becoming interested in cultivating as a pastime.
"We had 354 pieces of horticulture, an outstanding accomplishment for a club with 51 active and seven honorary members," said Bay.
Laura and Earl Griswold entered several items from their Westminster garden in the horticulture exhibits, which included evergreens, potted plants and vegetables. This area of theshow was open to anyone in the community.
"I caught my husband taking seeds out of one plant and told him to stop," said Laura Griswold. "We weren't sure what we might enter. That plant won a blue ribbonfor my husband."
Vegetables nearly as picturesque as flowers weredisplayed in small wicker baskets. Juanita Adams won a special awardfor her collection of five vegetables.
Some growers displayed newcultivars, seeds just introduced to the public within the past threeyears. Also on exhibit was a topiary swan, which grew with tender loving care from its owner, Carmen Blosveren.
"The swan, made of creeping ficus, was sprayed twice a day for eight months," said Blosveren, who won the horticultural excellence award.
Nine judges, all accredited to rate exhibits, spent three hours judging the show. In thedesign section of the show, open to club members only, exhibitors had to use all fresh plant material and create within specific dimensions.
Bay won the Tri-Color Award and the first prize in the design category for her interpretation of "Symphony in White, No. 1" by James McNeill Whistler.
"This is a very special award given to only one entry in the show, but it is representative of the talent of club members," said Peck.
Bay staged a vignette reminiscent of a bridal feast. This type of vignette had to be made in a quarter-section of awhite carousel 8 feet in diameter by 8 feet tall, but gardeners could embellish their floral creations with decorative components.
Bayadded such special touches as her grandmother's banana bowl and several rabbit figurines from her collection.
"Your exhibit looks likea display window and you are judged on how the components go together," said Bay, who used hardy begonia leaves, crab apple, chokeberry and hydrangeas.
Bay had high praise for her competitors in this category, saying they all did a "beautiful job."
"Works of the Masters" was so successful, Peck said members already are discussing plans for another show.
Awards, all won by Westminster residents, included:
* Arboreal: Edna Beglin.
* Collector's Showcase: Juanita Adams.
* Tricolor: Mary Ellen Bay.
* Creativity: Sharon Johnson.
* Petite: Susan Leahy.
* Junior Achievement: Lindsay Pettingill.
* Horticulture Excellence: Carmen Blosveren.
* Award of Merit: Andrew J. Condon, Ginny Houser, Jerry Condon, Charles Fisher.
* Awards of Appreciation: Senior Citizens Garden Therapy Group and Uniontown Historic District.
* Educational Award: Monocacy River Quality Association.
* Sweepstakes Horticulture: Juanita Adams.
* Sweepstakes Design: Sharon Johnson and Susan Leahy.
* Special Club Award: Juanita Adams.