I was the guest speaker at a garden club on Boston’s South Shore yesterday. January has been a very good month for ‘Gardening Is Murder’; clubs want to be entertained rather than educated, especially when there is a foot of snow on the ground. And what I provide is, for all intents and purposes, entertainment: the practice of gardening packaged as humor.
Because my presentation involves PowerPoint, I typically arrive well before the meeting starts so that my setting up is not disruptive. I sit quietly through the business meeting, and then I get up and do my thing.
The business meeting yesterday was an eye-opener into the purpose and workings of an active garden club. Even in the heart of winter, the club is vibrant.
|Wayside gardens, like this one in my|
town of Medfield, are frequently the
work of garden clubs.
Like most clubs, this one has a ‘garden therapy’ group that does outreach at retirement homes. There was a report on the club’s most recent outing – making small floral arrangements in vintage teacups with the residents of an area nursing home. There is also a ‘junior gardeners’ group that teaches horticulture to a group at the local school and it, too, had been active since the club’s last meeting. If I heard the report correctly, the junior gardeners will go as a group to the Boston Flower & Garden Show in March under the club’s sponsorship.
For its own members, the club is organizing a trip to the greenhouses at Wellesley College in early March as well as an overnight outing to the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden for August. The latter will include a talk by Bill Cullina, the Garden’s executive director and a noted horticulturalist.
Like many garden clubs, this one plants and maintains multiple wayside gardens around town. Those sites are currently under heavy snow cover but keeping up those locales from early May through the first heavy frost is not cheap. Clubs need to raise funds for their planting and this one will hold its annual plant sale at the end of May. Organizing and running such a sale is a volunteer-intensive effort and, through the meeting, a clipboard was circulated for members to sign up for specific tasks.
|Plant sales and garden tours are|
staples of garden club fundraising
efforts. Support them and you
support your town.
Garden clubs are also social groups and one of this one has a long-time member who is in uncertain health. The club devoted several minutes to discussing what it will do to make certain the elderly member knows she has not been forgotten by her friends.
This was one club on one frigid morning in January. All over the country there are other clubs doing similar things. They are educating themselves, doing outreach to their community, and beautifying their towns.
I guess the takeaway is this: come spring, you will likely read or hear about the garden club in your community raising money through some kind of an event – a plant sale or a garden tour, for example. Please participate. Whatever amount you pay will be returned to your town with long-lasting benefits.