Bowman does it for the love of flowers
For more than 30 years, Margaret Bowman has entered bouquets into the floraculture exhibit at the Summit County Fair.
The 85-year-old gardener spends all day tending to her collections of lilies, roses and dahlias, often starting around noon and not quitting until after dark.
Bowman, a slight limp to her walk, moves with ease around her yard in Upton in spite of several small hills, adjusting sprinklers and pruning anything she missed from the day before.
She points to a row of vibrant-colored lilies along the side of her house saying, "A week ago those were just loaded."
"Two years ago I won the "Judge’s Choice" when I had a great big bouquet of dahlias," Bowman said with a smile. "But now, I don’t know if I will have any this year."
"Here, these around here are producing a little better," she says walking toward her backyard.
Gardening wasn’t something Bowman picked up until she moved to Upton. Her mother had snap peas in her garden, but nothing extravagant and no flowers. But Bowman does remember her aunt having a large garden.
"Tiny (her husband) worked in construction, so we moved a lot and we were always in some remote area," Bowman said.
The Bowmans moved to Summit County in 1977. A few years later, a friend asked Bowman if she would help in the horticultural booths. She’s continued to do it ever since.
"I didn’t have a lot of room to do it then, but after we got here I started on it and I just really, really enjoy it," she said.
In 2007, the Utah Association of Fairs and Events named Bowman "Fair Worker of the Year" for her longtime dedication to the fair. The following year, the Summit County Fair board appointed her Grand Marshal.
"At the time I was Grand Marshal, I had participated for 31 years and never missed a year," she said.
Bowman said it was wonderful to be recognized for something she "just happened to get involved with."
Bowman’s daughter, who lives next door, refers to her mom’s hobby as an obsession and Bowman doesn’t correct her.
"I do spend a lot of time out here. My son-in-law said, ‘you plant in a day what an ordinary person plants in a week and then you get frustrated because you can’t do it,’" Bowman said. "And I do. I used to be able to do it. But I’m a little slower getting around this year."
On Wednesday, Bowman said she didn’t know if she would have any flowers to enter this year. There aren’t any secret tricks of the trade, she says, insisting she "just gets lucky."
Scrutinizing her yard, she said she would have to wait and see what her flowers looked like next week because "a lot could change in that time."
Kathy Collins, owner of Tend your Garden Florist in Coalville, has helped with the floraculture exhibit for a couple years. Collins said every year she is surprised by the number of locals who have entries in the exhibit and the time they spend on their flowers.
"Some kids enter and some of them are kind of simple," Collins said. "And then you have women like Margaret, who come in and it’s a little more sophisticated and they know what they are doing."
Flowers will be accepted for the floraculture exhibit on Thursday, Aug. 6 from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. There are several divisions, including floral arrangements, annuals, perennials and house plants. Each division has several classes. All flowers must be grown in Summit County.
Exhibitors are awarded points and prizes will be given for first through third place. A sweepstakes plate will be awarded for best arrangement and best overall flower.
For general instructions about the floraculture exhibit and for division information, go to http://summitcountyfair.org/exhibits/floraculture.
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