Floral enthusiasts proudly displayed their work Saturday at the 2017 Champaign County Fair.
A sea of yellows, pinks and reds could be seen inside the horticulture building during the annual Garden Club Flower Show. This year’s contest featured a wide range of roses, marigolds, hydrangeas and more. Several participants voiced pleasure in the show’s outcome this year despite unfavorable conditions.
“The garden club has worked hard to put on a good show,” said Deborah Graham, the county flower show chair.
Graham said this year’s entries were impressive.
Susan Dorsey was named the 2017 Queen of Roses for her Pretty Lady Rose hybrid.
“It’s one of the Downton Abbey series,” said Dorsey, who earned Queen of Roses and other floral awards in past years. “I had to save it from the beetles.”
Battling poor conditions and an onslaught of beetles, Dorsey said she worried for her roses this summer.
As a garden club member, she relied on her peers.
“Everybody helps each other and gives one another tips,” she said of the garden club. “My sister (also a member) comes down and gives me support. It’s a family tradition type thing.”
Dorsey’s sister Lynn Schaner also enjoyed a productive season by winning the Best of Show Artistic Design with an assortment that included a Blackberry Lily. She has won the award before.
Schaner said her biggest challenge this year was keeping her large plants intact while transporting them to the fair.
“It was just getting the stuff here without breaking it,” she said with a smile.
Gardening is both a hobby and way of life for Schaner and her family. She enjoys growing a variety of fruits, vegetables, nut trees and berries.
“We’re pretty much self-sufficient as far as food,” she said.
Schaner’s advice for novice gardeners is to learn through trial and error. She also attested to the benefits of joining the local garden club, a source for moral support.
“Each meeting we have some type of program,” she added. “It’s a hands-on learning experience.”
Ginger Huhn was awarded Best of Show Container Plant, a prize she has won in the past.
Huhn has been gardening for 30 years and enjoys growing succulents. Her advice for new gardeners is having persistence in the face of adversity.
“Never give up on them,” she said. “Try new locations or light settings. If it’s not working in one area, try another.”
The Best of Show Cut Specimen winner was Kendra Hunt, a lifetime gardener and four-year member of the garden club. Hunt said her mother and grandmother passed on to her a passion for gardening. She particularly enjoys showing gladiolus plants.
“I find (gardening) therapeutic,” she said. “I do enter more glads if I have them. It’s a lot about timing.”
Because her flowers bloomed early this year, Hunt was doubtful she would enter the competition, much less take home an award.
“Don’t be afraid to try new things,” she advised. “Just keep at it.”
Sondra Chester was named the 2017 Champaign County Garden Club Member of the Year. An active member of the Goshen Garden Club for more than 40 years, Chester is a wealth of knowledge at club meetings and her passion is evident, say her fellow members.
Chester’s favorite flower is the Lily of the Valley, and she particularly likes blue flowers because they are a rarity.
The Best of Show Junior Division Horticulture winners were siblings Michael and Caroline Yeager. The Best of Show Junior Division Artistic Design winner was Hanna Logsdon.
Craig Shirk is a regular contributor to this newspaper.