Saturday, January 29, 2022

Calusa Garden Club Displays the Beautiful Bs’ of Island Living



By Steve Gimmestad

There is much truth in how complex beauty can be, and on March 7-8, the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island demonstrated that for all to see. The ‘Beautiful B’s’ of island living are beaching, birding, boating and building. Club members created exquisite designs based on each theme. Entries were then reviewed by an esteemed panel of six judges from the National Garden Club and based on elements of design with 100 points as a perfect score. A score of 90 and above earns a blue ribbon. It is no easy task to become a judge and their merits are well-earned. Every entry is a work of art and choosing a winner is a complex task in itself. Many hours of plant care, preparation, design and execution go into creating these works of art. Each one is personal for the creator and their efforts give each design a unique heart and soul. “It took me about 15 hours to create my design,” said Lindy Kowalczyk about her first place entry in the Building theme. “There were some technical issues I had to figure out as it kept falling over. It was by accident that I found a way to make it work.” Her design stood over six feet tall and was an assortment of tropical florals. In the Boating theme, Bonnie Coleman took top honors and also received Best In Show. Her design, “Paddling through the Waves”, flowed with both style and color. The turquoise and blue coloring of the palm fronds were
a very accurate reflection of the waves as they curled out from a central design of white fuji mums and dendrobium orchids. Marsha Riss won the Beaching theme with a design that included green fuji mums, pincushion proteas and heliconia. This group was for novice exhibitors who have not previously received a blue ribbon in competition. Connie Lowery won the Birding theme with an intricate braided pygmy date palm accompanied by birds of paradise. The Horticulture Division was also well represented with a variety of bromeliads, succulents, orchids and more. Plants must be in possession of the designer for three months prior to exhibit. “It’s much different down here compared to the northern climes I was used to,” comments Judy Kouhi, winner in the Succulents group and club member for five years. “Different soil, different growing season; it’s like learning a different language.” Other winners were Janet Watson (Hibiscus), Marsha Riss (Orchids and Best in Show) and Mara Lamb (Bromeliads). There were also special non-competitive exhibits. These included Junior Gardeners, Birds of the Community, Beachie Bangles, and Building by Recycling. While the efforts behind the scenes may be complex, the beauty that is created for all to see is well worth it. The Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island brings joy to so many people through their work. For more information, visit their website at:

Photos by Steve Gimmestad

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