Old Town Hall blooms with art and flowers

Just as New England dons its mantle of autumn colors, so too will Old Town Hall and its historic gardens come alive with color as the Wilton Garden Club presents Art in Bloom, a flower and art exhibition.

The community is invited on Friday, Oct. 13, from 1 to 5 and Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 to 4.

The NGC (National Garden Clubs) Standard Flower Show has been more than a year in the making. Area gardeners were invited to enter the show that will feature 28 flower arrangements inspired by the work of seven artists: Jack Disbrow and Daryl Hawk of Wilton; Leslie Giuliani, Drew Klotz, and Julie Leff of Weston; John Maurer of Florida; and Toby Michaels of Westport.

The show will take place indoors at Old Town Hall, 69 Ridgefield Road, and outdoors. When visitors make their way from the parking lot off Belden Hill Avenue they may visit the historic grotto garden that will feature wildflowers and native plants and then walk along Greenlee Way, named for the late Dorothy Greenlee, a beloved garden club member. Here, Wilton Girl Scouts will plant fairy gardens, and garden crafts made by seniors in the club’s garden therapy program will also be on display.

Also outdoors will be Drew Klotz’s Lil’ Dipper 26 sculpture with four hanging garden designs inspired by the kinetic work of art.

Around the perimeter of the main room at Old Town Hall will be the remaining works of art that include oil on canvas, collage, sewing on Encaustiflex, and photography, with subject matter ranging from landscape to portraiture, still life to pattern. They are the inspiration for the floral designers.

“I think that people may expect the art to be all representations of flowers, but that was never the point,” said Allison Sanders, who chaired the subcommittee on art displays. “Floral arrangements are based on the same principles that guide any artist creating a sculpture, painting or photograph; it’s about color, balance, texture, and materials.

Also participating in the show are middle school students, including those from the club’s Green Teens program, with designs based on pumpkins or gourds and an educational exhibit on seeds and how they grow.

Another exhibit, Bee On It, will highlight the Wilton Pollinator Pathway program, and Preserving Yesterday for Today … and Today for Tomorrow will feature the Mary Beth Wheeler Herbarium, a collection of more than 1,200 preserved plant specimens from Fairfield County. The herbarium is housed at Wilton Library.

The center space of Old Town Hall will feature the horticulture classes, a cornucopia of annuals, perennials, bulbs, and other plants grown by show entrants. Here visitors may see plants grown in this area for their flowers, foliage, seeds, and berries — in shade and sun — as well as container plants, succulents and herbs, plus one section just for dahlias.

All show entries will be judged by accredited judges and eligible for awards. The show itself will also be judged.

Show chairman Nan Merolla stressed that Art in Bloom is not a fund-raiser for the garden club.

“It’s done to show how much we love flowers and horticulture, how we love to work with our youth and our seniors,” she said. The club puts on a major show about every three years, with the most recent in 2014 at the Wilton Historical Society.

The club has presented shows at a number of venues in town, including Wilton Library and Pilgrim Hall, but this year wanted to show off Old Town Hall, which it maintains and offers as a rental facility. Its new kitchen will feature a coffee bar for visitors.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun,” Merolla said, pointing out that she has organized the show with about 28 committee chairs overseeing such things as the art displays, horticulture entries, decorating, botanical arts entries, and staging.

As an NGC Standard Flower Show it must adhere to strict rules issued by the National Garden Clubs Inc. In 2014, the Wilton Garden Club won many awards for the show it presented that year.

Admission to the show is $10. Information: wiltonartinbloom.com.