Wisconsin Garden Club Federation under the direction of National Garden Clubs, Inc (NGC) provides education opportunities in four disciplines: flower shows (judging and exhibiting), environmental studies, gardening study and landscape design. Garden club members and non-members attend these courses over a two-year period at about six month intervals. Each session consists of two days of learning taught by university professors and private experts in their field. Garden club members attending these courses and passing all related exams are granted the title of consultant (environment, gardening or landscape design) or judge (flower show). To maintain their accreditation, consultants and judges are required to attend events that enhance their knowledge, learn current trends and techniques and promote interest in a specific subject. Flower Show judges attend symposiums for their continuing education. Consultants attend refreshers that may cover two or three disciplines as the subjects often overlap. These are either a bi-refresher or tri-refresher. While these courses provide an opportunity for consultants to maintain their status, the public is always welcome to attend.
Multiple refreshers may include tours of special gardens, urban renewal areas, recycling centers, etc. Instructors provide interesting presentations on a variety of topics from water-wise garden design to viewing the film Green Fire – Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time. There are no current plans for a multi-refresher in Wisconsin. Please visit the NGC website for a refresher in another area of the country.
Flower Show Symposiums*
Flower Show Symposiums consist of courses of advanced study of Horticulture, Design and Allied Subjects. All National Garden Club (NGC) Accredited Flower Show Judges are required to attend symposiums in order to remain in good standing as a judge. Good standing is necessary if a judge wishes to continue judging and evaluating flower shows. By attending and passing all symposium exams, a judge advances from an Accredited Judge to Accredited-Life Judge and finally Accredited-Master Judge – the highest title. Whether or not they are interested in becoming judges, garden club members and the public are welcome to attend symposiums to obtain current flower show information and increased knowledge of horticulture and floral design.
The Wisconsin Garden Club Federation generally hosts a Flower Show Symposium every three years. A recent symposium included the study of kinetic designs (with or implying movement) including mobiles, op art and hanging designs. Collages with torn papers and plant material provided attendees an opportunity to express their creativity. Studying the vast colorful worlds of Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Dahlia provided participants with new ideas for their home gardens.
*Information courtesy of the Handbook for Flower Shows, 2007 edition