In these last blustery days of the season, gardeners are warming up to thoughts of a spring garden promenade. While still too early to pound ground, now is the time to plant garden ideas. To help with that, the Garden Clubs of Illinois will host its 90th annual convention at the Chicago Marriott in Naperville.
The cultivating affair takes place Sunday, March 19, and Monday, March 20. This year's adventurous theme is "Go Native" and it focuses on incorporating native plants into your gardens. This event is open to the public.
Garden Clubs of Illinois conventionWhere: Chicago Marriott in Naperville
When: Sunday, March 19, and Monday, March 20
Theme: "Go Native"
Cost: Based on what days and events you plan to attend.
Registration: By mail only; find the registration form at www.gardenclubsofillinois.org or call Susan at (847) 864-6349. Submit registration by mail by March 8 to avoid a late fee.
On Sunday, March 19, there will be a hands-on floral arranging class, Floral Design with a Creative Flair, given by Walter Fedyshyn. Fedyshyn has designed for presidential inaugurations and Academy Awards ceremonies, and was inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers in 1988, where he served as national president.
"Step up everyday floral arrangements by incorporating updated design techniques to produce works of art," Fedyshyn said. "See how updated design elements turn the ordinary into something extraordinary."
Sunday evening, a dinner will be held in honor of Sandy Robinson, National Garden Club president. Robinson's theme, Leap Into Action, focuses on preserving pollinators. Robinson will address the demise of the mason bee. Entertainment for the evening will feature the Bach Bells of Naperville, a hand bell choir.
Monday's agenda includes educational exhibits, shopping vendors, raffle baskets and a silent auction. A business meeting will take place to present various awards to garden clubs throughout the state.
Prior to lunch, Scott Stewart, executive director for the Millennium Park Foundation, will give a presentation, Lurie Garden: Inspirations from Nature. The introduction covers the philosophy behind Lurie Garden's sustainable design and management practices.
"Through this presentation, I engage the audience in a conversation about the shortcomings inherent in traditional ornamental garden plantings and demonstrate the great aesthetic and ecological value in thinking of our gardens as ecosystems," Stewart said.
On Monday, Walter Fedyshyn will once again take the stage. However, this time, gardeners can get their hands dirty. Attendees can make their own arrangements using fresh and native materials under Fedyshyn's guidance.
Garden Clubs of Illinois was started by a group of garden clubs in 1926. On May 1, 1929, it was among the 13 founding states of National Garden Clubs Inc. Its mission is to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility. Additionally, GCI coordinates the interests and activities of local garden clubs in Illinois. Today, its membership includes 154 clubs and more than 7,000 members.
Illinois garden clubs have been active in their communities for many years. In 2016, two member clubs celebrated their 100th anniversary, while several other clubs are over 90 years old. However, the group is always recruiting and actively seeking new and younger members.
The organization, in cooperation with National Garden Clubs, provides four schools to members and nonmembers. The schools encompass environmental studies, gardening studies, landscape design and flower show judge information. After completing four courses in any one of the schools, a student may become accredited with the National Garden Club.
GCI also offers grants to member clubs for their projects pertaining to Blue Star memorial markers, garden therapy, and historic trails, as well as world gardening and other projects. These grants are given on a yearly basis.
Current GCI projects are "Milkweed for Monarchs," "Pathways for Pollinators," and "Bee Gap," which emphasize what homeowners can do to help these dwindling populations. Another project is the collection of commemorative stamps for the Illinois Audubon Society.
Member clubs are actively involved in a wide array of projects in their communities involving conservation, civic beautification, garden therapy and education. Many clubs sponsor youth groups or youth garden clubs. Club programs may include speakers, hands-on projects or field trips.
"I am constantly amazed at the beauty and wonders of our state and the commitment of our garden club members to preserve our native habitats, educate the public and continue to beautify the state," said state President Laurel DeBoer.
Convention fees and registration apply. For information on registration, visit www.gardenclubsofillinois.org or call Susan at (847) 864-6349.