Allan Armitage

Allan Armitage is a horticulturalist from Athens, Ga.

The Monroe Blooms Flower Festival returns this summer following a pandemic hiatus. The festival’s inaugural year was 2019, according to festival founder and co-organizer Gail Zorn. This year’s festival promises something for everyone.

“There’s all sorts of activities for folks that day,” Zorn said.

Also of significance is the fact more local flower farmers are participating in Monroe Blooms this year, she said.

The event takes place Saturday, June 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in downtown Monroe. Zorn said Broad Street would be cordoned off for “at least six” large outdoor displays, vendors and festivalgoers.

Monroe Mainstreet Coordinator Leigh Ann Aldridge (formerly Walker) said “a great crowd” of residents and visitors are expected to attend the festival this year. Monroe Downtown has received “an incredible response” to its promotion of the event, Aldridge said.

Along with displays there will be floral design competitions and workshops. A floral container workshop will be held in the morning and afternoon, and workshops on lavender wands, flower crowns and flower jewelry will be offered.

“And we are so very proud to welcome Dr. Allan Armitage to the event,” Zorn said. “He is nationally known as a leading expert on ornamental horticulture.”

Zorn said Armitage, the festival’s keynote speaker, has a “special interest” in cut flowers and wrote a book considered the bible for flower growers titled “Specialty Cut Flowers.” The book was co-authored by Judy M. Laushman, according to allanarmitage.net.

Armitage will present his personal garden journey “From Chaos to Contentment” at 9 a.m. at Wayfarer Music Hall, 123A N. Lumpkin St.

Armitage is considered an expert horticulturalist and has authored 17 books. He grew up in Canada but now lives in nearby Athens.

Zorn added that Armitage is a co-founder of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. For information on that organization, visit ascfg.org

Zorn, like Armitage, is a degreed horticulturalist. She was a campus horticulturalist and grounds director for Gwinnett Technical College and retired in 2015. Zorn also managed the Monroe Farmers Market from 2016-20. She began selling flowers as a vendor at the market in 2012.

Some of Zorn’s favorite blooms are peonies.

“The fragrance and the beauty of the peony in spring is an amazing sight,” she said. “Peonies can be challenging to grow in Georgia but not if you select the right varieties.”

Before becoming a vendor at the Farmers Market, Zorn admits she didn’t know the Monroe community well. Now, she believes Monroe is “a wonderful community in many aspects.”

Zorn said she appreciates the city’s efforts to design a community that is pleasing with streetscapes and sidewalks.

Walton County residents also seem to have “a great sense of beauty and environmental stewardship,” she said.

Along with various species of blossoms, a myriad of flower-themed goods and products will be sold at the festival, Zorn said.

“Master Gardeners will have a plant sale,” she said. “Local nurseries will be represented selling flowering plants as well.”

The Monroe-Walton Center for the Arts will hold workshops during its Saturday Soiree on June 19, Zorn said.

“You can make a flower bracelet or clay sunflower,” she said.

Zorn admits putting a festival like this together requires a lot of dedication and effort.

“You have to have the right team in place,” she said.

The festival is co-sponsored by Georgia Local Flowers, a cooperative of local flower farmers, and JL Designs, a downtown florist and wedding studio. 

Master Gardeners are providing volunteers and educational opportunities for the festival, and city workers will be involved in dressing up the downtown area, according to Zorn.

Also on June 19, the Davis-Edwards House will work with the Monroe Museum to offer a historical presentation on former Good Hope resident Moina Michael, known as “the poppy lady,” according to Zorn.

“They’re another valued contributor as well,” Zorn said.

The museum is at 227 S. Broad St. and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, go to

monroedowntown.com.

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