February doesn’t usually conjure thoughts of abundance in the edible or ornamental garden, so it’s especially nice to come upon a beautiful berried branch, a striking bloom, or a delectable winter vegetable. February does, however, mark the Sooke Garden Club’s first parlour show of the year. The club organizes six parlour shows throughout the year, five at regular meetings and one at a special summer event. Each show provides for friendly competition (ribbons are awarded, along with a year-end trophy) and horticultural education (entries are discussed).
All parlour shows are judged by B.C.-certified general horticultural judges from throughout the greater Victoria area, always working in pairs. Of the dozen individuals comprising this group, two – Carol Harding and Margaret Lintern – live in Sooke. Although both are members of the Sooke Garden Club, they judge the club’s parlour shows only in February and March, when weather and highway conditions can make the drive to Sooke unpleasant for judges from further afield. However, even when not judging locally, they are at the meetings, observing the invited judges, and sharing expertise and tips for improvement. Their diligence, enthusiasm and unrelenting encouragement for members to “look around and find something to enter” are reflected in the Club’s good reputation among judges for both the quantity and the quality of the parlour show displays.
When asked what members can learn by participating in parlour shows, Carol Harding replied, “They learn right away that no one needs to take courses to do well. Judges are looking for things like form, freshness, creativity, rarity, uniformity, beauty…ultimately perfection in the particular specimen or display… and what makes one entry just a little bit closer to perfect than another in the same category. We talk about these things, and people learn by participating. It’s exciting and it’s fun.”
Other things are also on this month’s meeting agenda. With spring officially only a month away, it’s almost seeding time for summer edibles and ornamentals. It’s also getting closer to the Club’s Annual Public Plant Sale, which will take place on April 26 at Evergreen Mall.
With the plant sale top of mind, most of the evening will be devoted to a garden forum facilitated by club vice-president Ron O’Brien. Members will be asked to brainstorm and discuss ideas for improving every aspect of this important fund-raising event. A particular focus will be on finding ways to create more fun and humour for members and shoppers alike. Ideas currently under consideration include: selling plants growing in re-purposed containers, marketing/selling both locally and to surrounding communities, and inviting participation by artists/craftspeople and merchants at Evergreen Mall.
This will be an energetic, fast paced, and collaborative evening for everyone. It will also include the annual seed exchange.
Please join us Wednesday, February 26, 7:30 p.m., at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church on Townsend Road. New members are welcome. Annual fee is $15. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Rose at 250-642-5509.
Submitted by Loretta Fritz