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Workshop Committee Reports

2022-2023 — Celia Radek, Chair; Susan Benner, Vice Chair

Nine workshops averaging over 30 attendees were held during the program year, from June through April, complementing Club activities and projects. Design sessions included a pop-up Boutique and two were recorded for later viewing. Many included information handouts, which can be found on the website. Expenses totaled $366.05. The Committee called upon Club Members to share their expertise and the name of presenter(s) follows the workshop title.

  • "Getting Ready for the Flower Show: Staging and Botanical Arts Design" (Florence Leyssène)

  • "Horticulture 101: Introduction to Exhibiting Horticulture in a Standard Flower Show" (Heidi Muschick)

  • "Flower Design 101 for Provisional and Novice" (Fran Ackerly and Barbara Baletti)

  • "Hypertufa Garden Troughs" (Debbie Moran)

  • "Greens Workshop and Decorating the Crane House & Historic YWCA.'

  • "Botanical Arts Artistic Crafts: Masks, Hats, and Jewelry" (Florence Leyssène)

  • "Flower Design, American Traditional Line: Crescent & Hogarth Curve" (Debbie Moran)

  • "Creative: Underwater Design" (Debbie Moran and Florence Leyssène)

  • "Rose Revival" (Barbara Meyer)

  • "Growing Annuals and Perennials from Seed and Introducing the Estelle Leibrecht Horticulture Project: Growing Zinnias from Seed (Michele Trevenen, Karen Whitehaus, and Celia Radek)


2021-2022 — Floss O'Sullivan, Chair

We offered eleven workshops to 205 Members on topics from gardening to flower design to botanical arts taught by our talented judges and expert Members. We happily resumed meeting in person following safety protocols and using Avis Campbell Gardens to meet outdoors for some of our workshops.

Our Provisionals learned horticulture exhibition and flower design from Debbie Moran, Fran Ackerly, and Barbara Baletti. Maureen Sprong educated us on Dahlias and led the bed captains at Avis Campbell Gardens with annual and perennial planting advice.

The Crane House and Historic YWCA looked wonderful after our 27th year of decorating. We so enjoy partnering with Montclair History Center and helped them secure sixth place in USA Today's 10 Best Historic Home Tours.

Exploring Botanical Arts, Florence Leyssène led a 'Galentine's Day' workshop on designing gift boxes using flowers. Debbie Moran's Terrarium workshop taught us how to create and care for miniature glassed-in gardens. Amy South, owner of Moss & More, led a workshop on Japanese moss balls called 'Kokedama' — a new concept for us.

A snowy Sunday rose-pruning session led by Barbara Meyer helped produce the glorious roses now in Avis Campbell Gardens. Finally, Brenda Bingham challenged us with multi-rhythmic design by explaining her own dynamic arrangements. Thanks to items donated by Brenda and bequeathed by Joan Crowther, attendees selected interesting containers and design materials, raising a lovely donation benefiting the Garden Club of Montclair.

We used technology to capture photos and videos as reference material for future generations. We employed: Zoom, Live iPhone Camera Feeds, iPhone Video, Narration, iMovie, Photography Editing with iPhone, Snapseed and Retouch applications, Microsoft Photo Editor, Google Slides, PowerPoint, and Sign-up Genius. We also added animated commercials and website news posts to increase participation. It has been a delight to expand our workshops and find new methods to educate.


Thank you to Sarah Olson, my Vice Chair, Sue Young for her website help, Florence Leyssène for her leadership, and our Members' enthusiastic attendance. Celia Radek, incoming Chair, will lead Workshops with her tremendous knowledge, collaborative approach, and proven dedication, making Workshops an ongoing success for the Club.


2020-2021 — Floss O'Sullivan, Chair

In a challenging year, it was inspiring to see how our Garden Club flourished. Workshops went “virtual,” combining experts, slides, photos, videos, audio, and Zoom to make education accessible for members.


Heartfelt thanks to NGC Accredited Master Flower Show Judges: Florence Leyssène, Debbie Moran, Brenda Bingham, and Arabella Dane who generously shared their expertise to create informative, beautiful workshops. Sincere thanks to all members who attended workshops - your enthusiasm and engagement resulted in priceless learning experiences for all. Grateful thanks to Fran Wong for e-blast announcements, and Amy South and Sue Young who posted workshops online. Our rosarian, Barbara Meyer, deserves thanks because she offered the only in-person workshop outside this Spring. Thank you all!


In September, Florence Leyssène’s narrated video workshop: American Traditional Mass Design and Debbie Moran’s slideshow video: Horticulture–Preparing to Exhibit launched. Intended for new Provisionals, these will serve future Provisionals and established members.


To prepare for virtual exhibitions, in October we met the delightful Arabella Dane, who provided guidelines, technology tips, and a judge’s perspective on Smart Phone Photography. November’s American Traditional Line Design featured Florence Leyssène’s superb horizontal and vertical line flower designs, photos, time-elapsed video, and live video demonstration.


Our 26th year decorating the Crane House and Historic YWCA was a challenge for a socially distanced world. Thanks to the combined efforts of our members and Montclair History Center’s Jane Eliasof, they won 4th place in USA Today’s 10 Best Historic Home Tours. Congratulations all!


In January, Brenda Bingham shared a judge’s perspective on Hogarth Curve Design and her inspiring flower design evolution. During February, Debbie Moran’s amazing precision for Petite Design illustrated scale and proportion. Barbara Meyer’s excellent Roses Workshop provided an education and hands-on practice preparing the roses in Avis Campbell Gardens in March. During April, Florence Leyssène and Debbie Moran conducted Stepping Up to Creative Design including live video demonstrations and creative techniques. Altogether, we had 176 participants in seven workshops taught by five instructors.


We depend on one another to grow and appreciate everyone’s contribution. What a lovely community we have built together. It is an honor to be part of this remarkable organization.


2019-2020 — Barbara Baletti, Chair

Providing opportunities to learn about gardening, horticulture, flower design, and community give-back are the hallmarks of a dynamic garden club and our Workshops are the conduit that allows this to happen. Despite the fact that our calendar was abbreviated by the global pandemic, we managed to present rich and varied offerings.

In addition to our annual Flower Design and Horticulture Workshops for Active and Provisional members, we added new things to the mix to prepare for the Design Specialty Flower Show, now scheduled for the fall of 2021. These included workshops in both Photography and Botanical Arts. I offer special thanks to Florence Leyssène and Debbie Moran for their work in preparing and presenting new workshops to educate our Membership this year. Their instruction and enthusiasm are nonpareil.

In early September, we offered a Bed Captains' Tour of our Avis Campbell Gardens where members learned first hand and "hands-on" about the creation, care, and variety of our planting beds from our devoted, hard working bed captains. October brought us Maureen Sprong's annual Dahlia slide show and specimen review which always lures a large group of dahlia addicts who return every year to learn more. 

Michael Downey, a professional photographer and instructor from Unique Photo Academy, presented to a rapt group of shutterbugs in November. The group learned both photography basics and tips to capture images of gardens and close-ups of flowers and plants.

Our Annual Israel Crane House decorating project in early December had overwhelming Club participation both in the preparation of the greens and in creating the festive holiday dressing of the house. Thanks to the Membership and to Jane Elias of of the Montclair History Center.

Another addition to our Workshop calendar this year was an "Interior Plantscapes" event at member Amy South's botanical boutique in Montclair, Moss & More, where she took us on a journey through the world of indoor tropical plants. Amy showed us how to grow and maintain them and shared insider secrets about what is trending now.

As Workshops Chair, I had the opportunity to explore new areas and get to know Garden Club members so much better. I had the opportunity to work with Mara Harkins, a lovely woman who will be missed.


The past year was challenging and fun. I know that Floss O'Sullivan, as she takes the reins next year, will bring her incredible enthusiasm and energy and bring this Committee to even greater heights.

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