Friday, January 15, 2016

National Garden Club Schools - Shedding Light On A Lifetime of Learning - Thea McGinnis

National Garden Clubs'  (NGC) mission is to provide education, resources, and national networking opportunities for its members to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility.

Members are privileged to have NGC schools available to encourage our personal life long passion and learning endeavors.  NGC schools include Gardening Studies, Environmental Studies, Landscape Design and Flower Show.

NGC schools offer challenging and rigorous curriculum to their students.  Each school consists of four courses, with expert instructors and speakers addressing topics and key areas of each subject category.  Completion of the four courses for a particular course, plus testing, lead to NGC Consultant certification or accredition as a Flower Show Judge.  So, why am I telling you this?

Dorthy Yard 
On a gloriously sunny day this past November, I attended Flower Show School (Course II) and found it exceptionally challenging - yet fascinating and exciting.  Our  Flower Show School instructors are both accredited Master Flower Show Judges. Dorthy Yard from Pennsylvania and Janice Hamlin from Florida, travel around the country to lecture, guide and show students the various aspects of judging horticulture specimens and floral designs.
Arlene Stewart weighing the qualities of her needled specimen

Students evaluating specimens. Robin Hammer examines evergreen foliage
 We were thoroughly instructed on Course II level Flower Show Procedure -We learned about growing, designing, staging, exhibiting as well as judging, based on specific qualifications and guidelines encapsulated in NGC's Handbook for Flower Shows.

Instruction included judging the condition, grooming and staging of plant material

 In addition to our wonderful instructors, a host of National Capital Area Garden Club (NCAGC) judges joined our activities and provided designs to simulate a flower show, for student evaluation, practice and test judging. Their designs varied -  from NGC Traditional designs to Creative design styles.
Babs McClendon, NCAGC FS Judge, giving students design advice
The Design portion of the curriculum reviewed the Elements of Design, creative and traditional design techniques, the designer's frame of reference, using the color wheel, and the six Principles of Design. Every aspect of a design is touched upon so that we can begin to learn to train our eyes in evaluating  qualities such as conformance and design principals of balance, rhythm, scale, contrast, dominance and proportion. Selection and organization of components are important. And most important - Distinction - because this is where the designer's creativity and superiority in all respects is revealed.

Note how lighting, background and underlayemphasize different aspects of the designs 
The dynamic balance of Creative designs challenge your imagination 

Unique Creative designs using unusual dried plant materials such as gourds
The students I attended Flower Show School with found the challenges within the course rewarding. It was wonderful to meet garden club members from other regions who traveled to attend. New friendships were forged as we worked together. I cannot thank Dorthy and Janice enough for their incredible patience and generosity and I'm very grateful for NCAGC's Judges' Council for conducting this course.  Seriously, folks. Everyone should attend this school or any of the other three NGC courses.

Accredited Master Judges Poss Tarpley, FSS Course Registrar (l) and
(r) Sandi Smith Piccirillo, State Flower Show Chairman for National Capital Area Garden Clubs, Inc.

If you are interested in more information about joining a garden club or attending an NGC school, leave us a comment or please click here-->  National Garden Clubs, Inc. website

National Garden Clubs continues to set the direction for American floral designing and raise the bar for both exhibitors and judges. May we use the information presented to us in this book as we continue to educate both our members and the public in floral design, horticulture and NGC objectives. "Embrace Gardening's Tapestry" Kitty Larkin, President, 2005-2007, National Garden Clubs, Inc. - from the Handbook for Flower Shows 2007 Revised Edition

Photography by Thea McGinnis