2015-06-04 / From The Garden

Flower Competition Heats Up in Style

By Pat Blakeley


The front lawn of Rosecliff will be transformed into The White City, using only white blooms, incorporating Beaux Arts design principles in an homage to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The front lawn of Rosecliff will be transformed into The White City, using only white blooms, incorporating Beaux Arts design principles in an homage to the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The Newport Flower Show will celebrate its 20th anniversary with “American Beauty – Timeless Style,” taking inspiration from the American Beauty Rose, an iconic symbol of excellence, first introduced at Rosecliff. The show will celebrate not only the beauty of the rose, but embrace the decidedly American spirit that made the country great, reflecting traditions from across the nation, as well as those that are quintessentially Newport.

America’s premier summer flower show runs June 19-21 at Rosecliff mansion.

And what better to capture the vitality of the American ethos than healthy competition at its finest?

Gardeners all across the Northeast have kept themselves going through the grueling winter with visions of summer, working on specimens and designs for months, hoping to produce a prizewinner.


Hundreds of cut specimens will be on display. Hundreds of cut specimens will be on display. Don’t kid yourself; they may be all smiles and sunshine at the show but every entrant comes to win, whether a blue ribbon veteran with a professional staff or a firsttime competitor clutching the family’s prized heritage bloom. Blind judging levels the playing field and ensures that only the plants are judged.

Visitors will be greeted by jawdropping display gardens on Rosecliff’s expansive front lawn, embracing the theme of The White City, the setting for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The Beaux Arts garden design principles of neoclassicism, symmetry and splendor inherent in the Gilded Age exposition will be interpreted for today’s landscape by five local professional firms.

Botanical artists will craft pieces reflective of the American beauty of Newport women with signature style: Doris Duke, Alva Vanderbilt, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Mrs. Arthur Curtiss James.

Floral designs will evoke timeless images of American life from multiple genres, incorporating elements of fashion, art, song, cuisine and literature in creations embracing the fearless, peerless and breathless nature of American culture. The 12 themes include those sparked by an Edith Wharton novel, the Kennedy wedding, the nation’s fascination with the automobile, and even the boundless energy of Dorothy Tuckerman Draper.

The wide-ranging Horticultural Divisions are even more multifaceted, and with 125 classes, enthusiasts of all flora varieties will be delighted. Creative Outdoor Containers boasts themes ranging from Keep America Beautiful to the American Melting Pot to the American Crazy Quilt Garden Club Challenge, all reflecting the beauty inherent in diversity. Ornamental Plants Grown in Containers offers 44 classes, ranging from bonsai to succulents. Cut Specimens, the largest division, offers annuals, perennials, wildflowers, roses, bulbs, and many more classifications. For a complete listing of all classes and specifications, visit newportflowershow.com.

The competition steps it up further in the Photography Division. The juried show accepted 20 entries in each of the 10 classes through April, but only six finalists per category will be on exhibit at the show. Each class incorporates a variation of the Timeless Style image – landscapes, jazz, the American dream – many inspired by iconic songs and poetry. The jury has identified the finalists, and their works will be judged June 18 at Rosecliff.

Promoting love of gardening for generations to come is a goal of the show, and organizers have created workshops and events to inspire the youngest green thumbs. Children ages 12 and under will compete in three horticultural categories. In two, rosemary (Rosemarinus offinialis) and primrose (Primula vulgaris), specimens received during a gardening workshop in April will be judged. In the par class, youngsters may submit any plant they have owned for at least three months.

Timeless style, timeless beauty, and timeless grace, the Newport Flower Show has it all at Rosecliff, June 19-21. For more information on “American Beauty – Timeless Style,” visit newportflowershow.com.

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