Connecticut Horticultural Society

Connecticut Horticultural Society

Flower Show

Flower Show Happenings

Come in from the cold –VOLUNTEER and visit a Backyard Paradise at the CT Flower and Garden Show!

February 20-23, 2014   CT Convention Center, Hartford CT
As winter continues to fight its way thru New England giving us some 5o degree days followed by single digit cold, the CT Convention Center will be blooming & bustling:   over 300 vendor booths, more than a dozen landscape displays , a Federation of Garden Clubs juried show  and most important for us CHS types:  48 seminars to learn –more, better and different garden techniques. 

Come Volunteer with us and get into the show for free! 
We will continue our role as CHS Ambassadors  for the show’s seminars.   By introducing yourself as a CHS member , introducing the speaker and facilitating  the speakers presentation , you give CHS the opportunity to meet people who are likely to become CHS members.   A membership table outside the rooms will help us enroll members  as they enter and leave the seminar rooms.

This link shows you where we still need volunteers: ( yellow highlights are open slots)
Volunteer: Ambassador 
Volunteers: Membership table
To request a requested  volunteer time slot , email your full name, tel.# to :
We will confirm your time and give you instructions for the day.
*Save 30+%  on Tickets:    $ 11 for members  (compare to $16 door admission)
We are offering, as a CHS member benefit, discount tickets to the show.  Tickets can be purchased at any of our events before Tues.  February 18th.  OR   Visit the Rocky Hill office11-4pm Tues. or Thurs. now thru the 18. OR send a stamped self addressed envelope to the office:   CHS 2433 Main St. Rocky Hill CT 06067



2013 FLOWER SHOW : Results

 “Breaking Up” Wins Five Awards 

After more than 1,100 greenhouse-growing hours, 28 hours of planting 150 varieties of plants and bulbs, 14 hours of building and nine hours of painting, we got the message across: Break up with your Lawn!  The message was so clear that the CHS exhibit won five show awards: Most Educational, Most Environmentally Sensitive, Best Urban Garden, Most Creative Design, and WFSB Favorite Landscape.

In frugal CHS gardener fashion, we made 95 percent of the display from recycled materials from previous exhibits of ours. We used bulb crates to build the display to a height of 4 feet so as not to waste wood-chip base material. We borrowed fencing and props. We enlisted the artistic talents of Leslie Shields for key visual elements of the rock cat, the spirals and the echeveria sun face. Bravo and thanks, Les. These efforts helped us come in at 25 percent below our budget.

On behalf of the board and members, I would like to thank all of our volunteers—
more than 80 members and friends—who trucked, toted, planted, painted, planned, hoisted, hosted, watered, and made our educational message clear. (Find a list of volunteers and photos at The display gave us the opportunity to tell 30,000 show visitors about CHS and enroll 28 new members.
                                                            —Nancy Brennick, flower show committee chairman

The 2013 CHS Flower Show Exhibit: A host's perspective

Hosting At the 2013 CHS Flower Show Exhibit
by Lorraine Ballato

What's the most fun you can have at the Connecticut Flower and Garden show? Besides being indoors in late February when winter is still in full swing, that is? Besides drinking in the delicious fragrance, color and beauty of all those flowers and natural settings to help you rethink your little slice of heaven?

For me, it was spending a few hours mingling with people as they enjoyed our CHS exhibit.

For those of you who didn't get to see it, our theme was "Break up With Your Lawn," demonstrating alternative plantings and uses for that hallowed space. Designed by Sarah Bailey, with David Smith at her side as a horticultural adviser and Joan Stubenrauch waving her magic wand over our plants, our committee worked hard and long to create an exhibit that delighted all who had a chance to experience it.

Some attention grabbers (pun intended) in our exhibit were a pussy willow with rich pink catkins (Salix chaenomeloides 'Mt. Aso') instead of the usual gray, and scented geraniums strategically placed at the perimeters. Attendees found the plants irresistible: people simply had to touch them and, in the case of the pussy willow, needed to know its name for future reference, part of what CHS is all about.

Then there were the rocks: who doesn't have a collection of all shapes and sizes? Our brilliant designers gave new meaning to the term "footpath" in a unique display that tickled virtually everyone who came through the exhibit during my shift as a host.

For gardeners who needed or wanted an alternative to a footpath, a planting of hens and chicks (Sempervivum) around a rock formation resembling a face was displayed for a sunny site.

Yet a third appealing rock display was a large curlicue "S," which could be set in moss (remember, we were showing lawn alternatives). I heard lots of show-goers remark that after seeing our display, they now knew what to do with all those sea shells they had saved from their vacations! Perhaps the pièce de résistance among the rocks was the somewhat large slab with the sleeping cat. The comments were more about admiration, less about do-ability, save the true artistes in the crowd.

 CHS March program speaker Roger Doiron and the many proponents of edible landscaping tell us it's important to make such gardens aesthetically pleasing. Our display did just that, starting with a straw-mulched circular strawberry patch. Like rays from the sun, it radiated neat rows of edibles leading to a cerulean blue tuteur. Root crops were interplanted with rows of greens designed for integrated pest management, weed control and just plain good eating. Yum! More lessons to share with show attendees who appreciated the form and function of that display.

 There was lots of note-taking going on about the many daffodils used in the exhibit. They were forced into bloom at the peak of their form and color (thank you, David!). Many people were curious about how to handle forced bulbs in their own gardens. Once again, CHS hosts were able to lend their expertise. People were especially curious about the minor bulbs planted in the small amount of grass we did have, and were pleased to learn that the bulbs were trouble free and would disappear before mowing time rolled around.

Even something as mundane as a shed drew lots of comments since ours sported a rain chain. These artistic downspouts come in various shapes and sizes and are usually made of copper. Designed as functional alternatives to traditional, closed gutter downspouts, rain chains become a pleasing water feature as they add the soft tinkling of individual droplets or the rush of heavier water to the experience of a garden. They are a treat to listen to, and many visitors to our booth hadn't seen them before.

If all of this fun isn't enough, the last bit is how we got to tell people what it's like to be a part of CHS and sign up new members. Can't wait 'til 2014 to do it all again!

CHS 2013 Flower Show Exhibitor Award

Linda Lareau presents the CHS 2013 flower show award to John Wilcox for his company's landscape exhibit. 

2013 CHS Flower Show Award Winner: Hillside Landscaping Company
by Linda Lareau

Each year at the Connecticut Flower & Garden Show, CHS recognizes a landscape exhibit that stimulates an interest in horticulture and also inspires the home gardener through the use of distinctive plants and design. Recipients of this year’s award are John Wilcox and Steven Walowski of Hillside Landscaping Company in Berlin.

Hillside Landscaping’s exhibit reflects important elements of any strong garden design, and includes a distinctive water feature, cohesive design and larger plantings to provide perspective. The plant selection and color are appropriate and timely.

Hillside Landscaping was founded in 1984, and Wilcox and Walowski have attended the flower show for more than 20 years. The company does custom landscape and water-feature design and plant installation, emphasizing structure, texture and color. John and Steven keep the focus on easy maintenance and natural landscapes.

CHS thanks the judges for their evaluation and perspective: John O’Brien of O’Brien Nurserymen in Granby, Sarah Bailey, a University of Connecticut master gardener coordinator, and Kevin Wilcox of Silver Spring Nursery in Bloomfield.

2013 Flower Show:

Installation is underway!! CHS members and friends prepare the society's exhibit for the 2013 flower show, which encourages visitors to "break up" with their lawn. Click on the resources at the right to learn how to call off the relationship and move on to a more suitable affair.






2013 Flower Show: Love in Bloom

CHS Flower Show Exhibit: Taking Leave of Lawn
by Nancy Brennick

CHS volunteers once again are using some down-time in the garden to keep the green spirit alive by producing a display for the 2013 Connecticut Flower and Garden Show Feb. 21-24 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.

The theme for this year’s show is “Love in Bloom.” Putting a captivating spin on the theme is nothing new for our creative group, and this year is no exception as we ask show visitors to “Break Up with Your Lawn.” We suggest that such a break-up might occur in the form of a Dear John – er, Dear Lawn – letter, where the lost infatuation is explained and replaced by a more practical, ecological awareness of the cost of the ended relationship. Our display guides the healing process!

We will also continue in our lauded role as speaker facilitators, introducing the horticultural experts who lead 80 hours of seminars over four days. CHS volunteers have added a professional touch to the logistics in the meeting rooms by introducing speakers and the society to attendees. The role is the biggest opportunity at the show for CHS to meet potential new members.

People who attend the seminars are learners who want to hear speakers, and hey, that’s exactly what we’re about. We’re asking for volunteers to introduce one or more of the seminar speakers. The bonus is that these volunteers get into the show for free on their assignment day, as do volunteers who host the CHS booth and help prepare the exhibit.

The sign-up list for speaker facilitators and CHS booth hosts will be available at our meetings and by calling the CHS office, 860-529-8713. Calling during office hours, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m-4 p.m., means we can confirm that the time slot you’re requesting is open. Let us hear from you, please.

For updates on show preparation and work meetings please see our Facebook page, or email us to get on the distribution list.

Flower Show Wrap-up and Thanks

Flower Show: ‘After the Storm’
by Nancy Brennick, CHS vice president

The call for help with the CHS exhibit in the 2012 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show was answered by more than 100 CHS members and friends. Once again, CHS volunteers presented a show-stopping display for the tens of thousands of show-goers in late February.

More than a dozen volunteers dug from their gardens groundcovers, saplings and mosses; collected woodsy artifacts, including stones and trunks; and saved leaves so the woodland display would mimic the real thing. The display showed that even after the worst of Mother Nature’s ravages, the bulbs will bloom, the peonies will pop, the saplings will sprout.

More than 60 CHS members hosted the CHS exhibit and introduced seminar speakers at the show held at the Connecticut Convention Center.

The CHS Board of Directors would like to thank the volunteers and families who gave their time and resources to the effort. Special thanks go to

* Katie Shipman, who designed the landscape and provided plants, props and construction guidance;

* David Smith, who tended the bulbs and is always a divine resource for horticultural questions;

* Joan and Ken Stubenrauch, who bought and cared for the plants and jumped at opportunities to help; and

* Cathy Testa, who organized show volunteers and provided training.

CHS is especially grateful to the Glastonbury VOAG and Gideon Welles School for the use of their greenhouses, and to the teachers and students who helped care for the plants.

Please help thank donors to the CHS exhibit by supporting their businesses: White Flower Farm, Morris; Cedar Mountain Stone & Mulch, Wethersfield; Broken Arrow Nursery, Hamden; Moore’s Sawmill, Bloomfield; Shipman Nursery, Glastonbury; B&B Landscaping and Design, Glastonbury; and Cricket Hill Garden, Thomaston.

CHS Flower Show Awards

* 2012 AWARDS TO CHS: The CHS landscape exhibit won two awards: the "Best Naturalistic Garden" award from the flower show's host, North East Expos Inc., and the American Horticultural Society's award for "demonstrating and promoting sound horticultural practices."

'After the Storm' Exhibit Description

Experience tells us that no matter how devastating the effect of Mother Nature’s weather, a storm is always followed by rejuvenation and regrowth. A hurricane may wreak havoc, wind-whipping the landscape, toppling natural and man-made structures, causing flooding and changing water’s path. Inhabitants flee, and in the ensuing stillness a new landscape is revealed. 

The Connecticut Horticultural Society’s display considers this different world and invites visitors to ask: Are storms a part of the “traditions of nature?” What about the fledgling woodlands reclaimed from cultivation and the swaths of native plants that thrive because new light reaches the earth? Do the traditions of nature include the saplings that sprout anew, the maimed shrubs that flower despite the damage, the wildlife that returns to build fresh nests and lairs without flinching as the scene changes?

Come and observe with us the seemingly impossible task of recovery. In this new world created from upheaval, the “fittest” plants and animals survive as Mother Nature revives the landscape—“after the storm.”

2012 AWARD FROM CHS: The landscape exhibit created by Kevin Rescildo of Pondering Creations, LLC, in Terryville was chosen to receive the CHS award. 

Each year at the flower show, CHS makes an award to the exhibition that best stimulates an interest in horticulture and inspires the home gardener through the use of distinctive plants and design. The display created by Rescildo included repetition of form, texture and color, combined with natural stonework, water features and other structural components. All are important elements of strong garden design.

Rescildo, who also won the CHS award in 2011, has long been interested in gardening and nature. When he was 14, his parents ceded him a corner of their property so that he could build his first pond. He earned a degree in horticulture and design from the University of Massachusetts. Ten years ago he launched his business and focused on building “natural” landscapes. His firm designs custom landscapes and water features and installs plants that emphasize structure, texture and color. A stonemason, Rescildo recently installed a greenhouse on his five-acre property, where he intends to offer unique aquatic and shade plants and unusual conifers.  

A special thank you goes to CHS judges John O’Brien, Nancy Shipman and Kevin Wilcox for their evaluation and perspective.                                                   --Elaine Widmer


                                                          Pondering  Creations exhibit

CHS Flower Show Handouts

'After the Storm'…

The following three handouts--on pruning, evicting invasive plants and embracing native plants--are available at the CHS booth at the 2012 Connecticut Flower and Garden Show. Included are links to more information about each subject.

Pruning promotes healthy growth, good looks and flowering. A general rule is to prune flowering plants after they bloom.
-- Use clean, sharpened tools.
-- Cut away any dead material.
-- Remove crossing, rubbing or wounded branches to thwart pests and infection.
-- Thin crowded stems to promote new growth through increased light and air circulation.

More information:
Margaret Roach blog
Lee Reich blog
Magazine articles, How to Prune and Pruning Tips

Evict Invasives
Invasive plants are species that lack the natural controls on growth and reproduction that would be found in the plant’s native location. Invasives squeeze out native species, changing the biodiversity of their non-native landscape.
-- Become familiar with local invasive plant problems. Identify non-native plants (autumn olive, multiflora rose, Oriental bittersweet, burning bush, Japanese honeysuckle, loosestrife).
-- Remove invasive plants by digging out roots, smothering colonies and/or spot-treating with herbicide in worst cases.
-- Pull plants while they’re small and before they seed.

More information:
Douglas Tallamy “Bringing Nature Home"  
University of Connecticut/Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group
U.S. Department of Agriculture 
U.S. Forest Service

Embrace Natives
Native plant species
-- require fewer resources to stay healthy;
-- have the best survival rates;
-- feed and support native microbes, insects and wildlife; and 
-- support a broader range of life than non-native species from Asia and Europe (the Kousa dogwood from China supports no insect herbivores, while the native Cornus florida supports 117 insect herbivores, which in turn feed the birds).

More information:
The New York Times articles about Doug Tallamy; about Larry Weaner and native meadows 


CHS display: Traditions of Nature, After the Storm

Calling all 2012 Flower Show Volunteers and Visitors

A landscape exhibit created by CHS again will be the first one visitors see when they enter the Connecticut Convention Center in February for the 2012 flower show, whose theme is “Traditions in Nature.”

“Our creative take-off from the theme is a display we call ‘After the Storm,’ ” says Nancy Brennick, flower show chairman and CHS vice president. “Our experience is that no matter how devastating the effect of Mother Nature’s weather, it is always followed by regrowth. A hurricane may wreak havoc, wind-whipping the landscape, toppling natural and man-made structures, causing flooding and changing water’s path, but it is only then we realize she uncovers a whole new landscape plan.”

One definition of tradition is “a customary practice or set of precedents that continually affects the present,” Nancy says. “We wonder aloud in our display: Is ‘tradition’ the storm? Or the new woodland reclaimed from cultivation, or the swaths of native plants that can grow because new light reaches the earth? Or the damaged, less-than-proportional woody shrubs that flower defiantly? Or the wildlife that takes cover and then returns to make new homes, nests and lairs without flinching as the scene changes?

“Till Feb. 23, we'll keep you guessing where we go with our idea,” she says.  “Come see and decide if we’ve captured the ‘Traditions of Nature.’ ” The show runs from Feb. 23-Feb. 26, 2012, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.


The Flower Show Committee could use an hour or two of your time. Please contact Nancy with your availability,