Whether you’re looking to start a garden or update your old one, downtown Winter Garden is the place to be Saturday and Sunday, April 7 and 8.
The 18th Annual Spring Fever in the Garden is taking place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and it promises to offer everything a plant enthusiast could want. There will be plant and flower vendors lining the streets, as well as a KidZone, live entertainment, shows, experts on hand to answer lawn and garden questions and other seminars.
On Saturday, amateur and professional artists will be creating their nature-related images in the Chalkin’ It Up event in front of City Hall. A total of $2,100 in prizes will be awarded. For information or to register, call (407) 496-3428.
The raffle will be located near North Boyd Street and will include tickets to local attractions and merchandise donated by local restaurants and shops. Drawings will be held throughout both days.
The KidZone has something for all ages, including a Lowe’s workshop with a take-home project on Saturday, plus a variety of other presentations and demonstrations on both days.
All of those gardening, lawn and tree questions you have can be answered at the “Ask the Expert” area, which consists of demonstrations and question-and-answer opportunities with Ed Thralls, Kelly Greer and Amy Vu from the UF Orange County Extension Service; Robert Bowden from Harry P. Leu Gardens; Tom MacCubbin, UF extension agent emeritus; and Tristen Bowen, area landscape manager at Marriott Vacation Club.
On Saturday: 9 to 11 a.m., Getting Your Lawn Ready for Summer; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Florida-Friendly Natives for Your Garden; 1 to 3 p.m., New and Underutilized Plants for Florida; and 3 to 5 p.m., Bringing the Outside In – Best Plants for Indoors.
On Sunday: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Weed Control; and 1 to 3 p.m., Backyard Beekeeping.
Entertainment takes place on five stages. Scheduled to perform are Davis McGee, John Lee Wyatt, Capt. Harry Hann, The Sandy Back Porch Band, Opera Orlando Youth Program, the Citrus Singers Girl Scout Choir, Layla Brisbois, Joe Hand, Lisa Morales, Andrew Parker and the High Ground Band and the Good Times Jazz Band.
Bloom & Grow is dedicating this year’s festival to recently deceased members JoAnn Cauthen, Mary Ann McMillan and Mary Root.
BLOOM & GROW GARDEN SOCIETY
When Gretchen Boyd was thinking about starting a garden club in Winter Garden in 1997, she sought the guidance of Marjorie Masson, who was president of the successful Windermere Garden Club.
“She really helped mentor,” Boyd said. “She came to the Tanner (Hall) and spoke at the first meeting in May and told us what to do. She told us to put a notice in the paper that we were going to start a garden club.”
Twenty-three interested women attended the first organizational meeting. Leaders adopted the bylaws of the Windermere club and set out to grow the new group.
“There was a membership cap in our bylaws of 100,” said Boyd, who was elected the first president. “We thought that was kind of funny. A hundred? Too high. But by four months we had 100 members and a waiting list.”
The club’s mission statement is this: “To stimulate a knowledge and love of gardening. To aid in protection of native plants and birds. To encourage civic plantings.”
Club members heard from educational speakers at their monthly and took field trips to Central Florida gardens. They participated in community projects, such as landscaping the West Orange Christian Service Center, Oakland Town Hall and homes for the West Orange Habitat For Humanity and Home At Last programs; and creating a meditation garden for Health Central Park residents and a sensory garden for UCP West Orange.
The outdoor enthusiasts celebrated Arbor Day with tree plantings. In 2000, they added the two drake elms that stand on either side of the sidewalk leading out to the dock at Newton Park.
They planned fundraisers, such as poinsettia sales and Stepping Out, but perhaps the club’s most ambitious projects have been the Path of Life and Spring Fever in the Garden.
Jackie Brown-Colberg came up with the idea of the landscaped brick path at Chapin Station in Winter Garden in 1999. Members sold engraved honorary or memorial bricks to help fund the serene area just off the West Orange Trail. Space is still available; to order an engraved brick, visit bloomandgrowgardensociety.org.
Spring Fever in the Garden has been the most successful continuous fundraiser for Bloom & Grow. A member of the Winter Garden club, the late Helen Kennedy, attended a garden festival in Mount Dora and wanted to bring the idea back to Winter Garden.
The one-day event soon turned into two after the city of Winter Garden joined as a co-sponsor, and it is now in its 18th year, drawing hundreds of garden- and plant-related vendors and thousands of attendees. Sue Crabtree has been the festival chairperson since 2005.
The garden club has dedicated itself to local students, too.
Funds from Spring Fever have provided $125,000 in scholarships to students attending Valencia College and the University of Florida who are majoring in plant science, environmental horticulture and landscape design.
Money has been invested in creating gardens at area elementary and middle schools. And, for years, members donated garden-related books to schools in West Orange and South Lake counties.