At the Newport Flower Show, the Art of Botany

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A prize-winning allium is on display at the Newport Flower Show.

Every summer, the Newport Flower Show brings hundreds of gardeners, floral designers, and horticulturalists here to Newport, R.I., along with thousands of others who come to admire their work.

For three days, the front lawn of Rosecliff, the former summer home of the Oehlrich family, is transformed into a botanical garden. Garden centers and nurseries bring in unusual, sought-after plants and create whimsical installations.

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I coveted this veronica, which is the “Red Fox” cultivar. It’s a bright, sculptural addition to backyard bouquets.

The ballroom becomes a gallery for modern floral arrangements which blur the lines between art and nature, as well as more traditional urns and centerpieces. This year’s theme, “Journey: Grand Vistas,” meant that several of the judged categories and installations were inspired by the love and romance of travel.

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Miniature pineapples are popular with floral designers at the moment: they add an interesting texture, and don’t necessarily have to be paired with tropical flowers.

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This botanical bracelet is made entirely with dried flowers and moss.

In the Botanical Arts Division, contestants make clothing, shoes, and jewelry with dried plant material. You either love it or you hate it; either way, you have to admit that it takes an incredible amount of skill and patience.

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“Peaches” dahlias have an orangey-pink hue.

Although I entered the show as a Floral Design Division competitor this year, I have to admit that the Horticulture Division was my favorite. Participants pick just one perfect stem, branch, or leaf from from their gardens, and display it in a simple glass bottle. Individually, their natural beauty is breathtaking; grouped together, they’re stunning.

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It’s cool to see all the different varieties of one flower side by side. Each of these spirea plants was just slightly different than the others.

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This incredible flowering branch won a blue ribbon in the hydrangea category.

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In my opinion, a branch or a bunch of leaves can be just as beautiful as any flower, so I loved the categories that highlighted hosta leaves, evergreens, and ferns.

Photo at top and gallery photos by Meaghan O’Neill. All other photos by Antonia Farzan. Click on any image below to launch the gallery.

Antonia Noori Farzan is a writer living in Newport, Rhode Island. She enjoys cooking vegan meals, practicing yoga, designing floral arrangements, and photographing old houses for her blog, Clapboard and Shingle.

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