Media Archive

Garden club continues to serve community

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 25, June 19, 2002

By Sarah MacIlroy
Staff Writer

Observer Photo/Sarah Macllroy
CLUB WORK IN THEIR COMMUNITY - These members of the Milo Garden club plant flowers at the UnitedKingfield bank in Milo with help from Tyier Trask, center. Lois Trask, left, and Jean Hanson, right, work with the club to plant flowers all around the community. Last week, the club was planting flowers at the Milo Post Office, Milo Heights, the Milo Town Hall, Milo Historical Society and Milo Free Public Library.

MILO – As one group of local people proves, all it takes to contribute to your community is a willingness to work and the ability to tolerate black flies.

With National Garden Club Week close by and warmer weather working its way toward Penquis, local club members have started their spring job÷adding the extra touches that can make a community blossom.

Garden clubs, a long-standing tradition in small communities, offer their services each year to plant and maintain gardens in the area."A lot of projects people probably don't even realize we do," explained Milo Garden Club President Betty Willett.

Each year members of the Milo club work not only planting flowers in different sections of their community, but also contributing funds to community projects, like conservation camp and decorating the community Christmas tree.

"All of our projects have something to do with conservation and gardens," said Willett. "A lot of them we've been doing for years." |

Milo Garden Club, an organization that may be one of the oldest in the area, officially formed around 1930. Since that time, club members have worked together with people of similar interests to contribute to their area.

"It's a group of workers working together " she said, "not just one person...I just think it's a wonderful thing to do,and I wish we could do more. "

The Perennial Favorite's Garden Club, of Greenville, is a relative newcomer to the garden club scene, organized about three years ago by local resident Barbara Richardson.

"It started mainly with the overall appearance of the town," Richardson said. "There was no beautification, so, three years ago, we formed the garden club."

Richardson explained that since the Greenville club has started the town has been the subject of a downtown revitalization project that has made a difference in the lakeside community's appearance.

"We just continued working and planting and maintaining," she explained. "Basically we're a community service-type garden club. The focus is on beautifying the town.

"We're sort of the keeper of the downtown area," she added. "We're not nationally registered... we're a working club and probably 50 percent of the members are summer residents."

If community service wasn't enough satisfaction, members also get the benefit of pooling their gardening know-how.

"You don't have to have any experience as a gardener to join the club," said Richardson. "Most of us are gardeners, but you can't ever know everything there is to know. So, we share information, and it's really just a good time."

In addition to work days and regular meetings, most of the area clubs have outings where they visit other area gardens.

"We meet once a month, and then once a month, we have work parties," explained Greenville club member Joan Brown. "Once a month, we also have field trips where we see other gardens. Last year, we visited the University of Maine in Orono where they have demonstration gardens there and that kind of thing."

But garden clubs don't stop with gardens.

"Garden clubs don't just do flowers," said Judy Merck, master gardener and president of the Sebasticook Garden Club, which works on projects primarily in the Newport/Corinna area. "We work with schools and help kids to appreciate and realize how much fun gardening can be."

Merck said garden clubs routinely offer garden-oriented literature for the schools, in addition to spending one-on-one time with students, showing them gardening basics.

Some clubs members are also involved in plant-a-row projects in which garden vegetables are grown and donated to local food cupboards, said Merck.

But overall, gardening, she said, is more than just a hobby or a community service, it's an opportunity for personal growth.

"We need a lot more gardening, if we could stimulate people (to do it)," she said. "Gardens are very emotionally helpful and they definitely are a contribution to the way we live."

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.