Winter lingered longer than welcome and spring was slow to arrive. The season has finally begun to blossom, if not yet in local backyards, then gloriously at the Fairfield Garden Club's Centennial Flower Show last weekend at the historic Burr Homestead, where an array of colorful flowers is in bloom.

The event was not the club's 100th annual show, rather it commemorates the 100th anniversary of the organization, which was established in 1915 with a gathering of 25 women, including Mabel Osgood Wright, the club's first president and founder of the Birdcraft Museum. The women met "for the pleasure and profit of amateur gardeners, where ideas could be exchanged and interest stimulated in the proper care of flowers and vegetable gardens."

The local club organizes its flower shows on average every three years. After record cold and snowfall, this show couldn't come soon enough.

"All of these bulbs were under the ground 10 days ago," said committee member Penny Ross, amazed and grateful that they finally sprang to life.

"It's phenomenal. Spring is here," said Whitney Vose, co-chairwoman of horticulture for the club, at Friday's preview party.

The show, titled "The Best of Times," featured more than 100 entries in five categories: floral design, horticulture, photography, conservation and garden history, and design. Judged classes include themes that reflect the club's history from the past to the technological present with names like Fly Me to the Moon, A Bee in her Bonnet, In a Sentimental Mood, No Thyme like the Present and CU@8.

Two of the club's members won Best of Show awards in their respective categories -- Peggy Moore for her "colorful rhythmic design skillfully executed in beautiful proportion to its space," according to the judges in the floral design competition You Must Remember This, and Kate Jamison for her miniature landscape that the judges in the horticulture class titled Rock N' Roll called a "spectacular presentation of compatible plant material growing together for up to ten years."

Jamison also received a second award for the same entry, a horticultural medal offered by the national garden club organization. Ross said that award is not guaranteed at every flower show; it is awarded only if merited.

"It has to be a remarkable horticulture entry," someone else said of the citation. "It's a big honor," said Jamison, a Fairfield resident.

Moore, also of Fairfield, said she has entered the competition numerous times in her 27 years as a member. She didn't expect to have time to create a floral design this year because she is head of the staging committee for the show. Her winning design was a last-minute entry.

At the preview party people marveled at the creativity in each floral class, including one in which flowers and other materials were used to make designs resembling hats. "You could really wear that," said Susan Schieffelin, president of the Greenwich Daffodil Society.

A second-floor exhibit showed the evolution of Fairfield's Town Green campus, "one of the oldest cultural landscapes in America."

On the first floor, an entry titled What a Wonderful World: A profile of Brown's Brook at Historic Ogden House won the Marion Thompson Fuller Brown Conservation Award for "exceptional educational and visual merit."

"The Best of Times" is a celebration of the legacy of our involvement in civic projects, beautification and conservation education in Fairfield over the past 100 years," said Fairfield Garden Club President Rebecca Jensen. Brown's Brook is one of the club' many civic projects, which will benefit from funds raised at the show. It includes an apiary at Oaklawn Cemetery. Honey from that beehive and beeswax candles were for sale in the show boutique.

Jensen said the club has also planted 100 hybrid American chestnut trees, "thousands upon thousands" of flowering bulbs and maintains a kitchen garden at the historic Ogden House on Bronson Road.

For more information about the Fairfield Garden Club, visit its website, www.fairfieldgardenclub.org.