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Gardeners get seeds of knowledge at annual Camellia Day luncheon

Flower gardeners converged in Thomson last week for the 53rd annual Camellia Day luncheon. Thomson City Councilman Jay Jones issued the proclamation from Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry naming Wednesday, March 3 Camellia Day.

Hosted by McDuffie County's Merry Tillers and Pine Needle garden clubs, the celebration was attended by approximately 75 members and guests of the Garden Study Club of Thomson, the Pioneer Garden Club of Harlem, the Iris Garden Club and the Washington-Wilkes Garden Club, both of Washington-Wilkes and Warrenton Garden Club.

After being warmed by a Hot Chicken Salad meal from More Than Mudpies, the group looked forward to outdoor entertaining in Spring through a presentation by Wesley Cadle.

"He did a wonderful job, just excellent. Everybody enjoyed it," said Bunnie Walden, the vice-president of the McDuffie County Garden Council. "He gave us all good ideas. When you've been to a presentation that you can take something home that you've learned, then you feel like it was worthwhile."

The owner and designer of Design Solutions in Augusta, Mr. Cadle created a tablescape he will use for an outdoor banquet alongside the Savannah River during Masters week.

"When using an outdoor space, think about the natural background around you," Mr. Cadle said. "Choose colors and textures to compliment that."

The scape began with an Ikat tablecloth in natural creams, blues and greens accented with an eggplant purple. Low, elongated glass vases were wrapped in bamboo to hold the floral centerpiece. For a Southern flare, Mr. Cadle used hydrangeas, snow balls, calla lilies, orchids and tulips. "The typical person knows flowers more now, so it's difficult to get away with carnations and pompom arrangements anymore," Mr. Cadle said, encouraging the guests to "always look for something that excites you, something that has something different to say to you. Especially all of you, because you look at your gardens all the time."

The professional floral arranger and interior designer demonstrated how to cut stems of the larger flowers with a cross-cut, rather than a slice, "because the stem has a soft tissue inside and this will enable it to drink better." Because he was creating a mass arrangement, he discouraged the use of foliage.

"Foliage can be your friend, but it also can be your enemy," he said.

When adding spike flowers, Mr. Cadle explained the importance of cutting off the tips.

"Cut the buds off, so they're party-ready with all the flowers open," he said.

The centerpiece was accented with individual glass vases containing single flowers or candles. The colors of the glass vases was selected to bring out the colors in the tablecloth.

"Always add light," Mr. Cadle said as he placed candles around the table. "If you don't have candles on the table, you might as well not have dinner, as far as I'm concerned."

When questioned by someone in the audience, Mr. Cadle admitted the centerpiece was expensive, but it would be rearranged and used several times throughout the week, making it cost-effective in the long run.

Mrs. Walden said members of the garden clubs most likely would use the ideas presented, but adapt them to flowers from their yards.

"That's why we grow them, so we can use them and enjoy them," she said.

Web posted on Thursday, March 11, 2010

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