Southport Garden Club Awards Garden of the Month, and More
“To bestow the honor of “Yard of the Month,” we look for the home gardener who does all the work,” says Elaine McBride and Diane LeBosse, Yard of the Month Committee members from the Southport Garden Club.
“Look no further,” says my sister, Francine. “Barbara and I do it all. But then again she taught me everything I know about gardening.”
I have always felt there is something magical about digging in the dirt, planting seeds and even pulling weeds, but it’s also my therapy. No cell phones, no conversations with anyone, just me, a pair of gloves and the dirt. My joy is watching seedlings grow to 6-foot high edible pea pod plants and then picking the bounty for a new stirfry dish. Or learning how to string grapevines around a metal trellis to train heirloom bean plants as they make their way to the top. Who knew there was so much to learn about gardening?
Some of my happiest times have been spent in a garden with my mother and grandmother. It was never a chore for them to pull out the rakes and hoes and work in the garden for hours. “Plant something you can eat but also plant a sweet smelling rose or a row of delicate sweet peas, so you can enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer,” my grandmother would say.
One of our most prized heirloom plants is a Japanese Tree Peony we estimate to be over 80 years old. The original plant is from my grandmother’s flower garden on her Ohio farm. When my parents moved to California, the plant was dug and transported to its new home where it continued to bloom and flourish. When my sister and I moved to Southport several years ago, the plant made the move with us and continues to shower us with flowers the size of a dinner plate, pure white with double rows of ruffled petals. We call her “Irene” in memory of our late mother.
My sister and I spend days in the garden enjoying many varieties of plants given to us by family and friends and remembering the stories they told. Our garden is brimming with lettuce, spinach, radishes, edible pea pod plants, herbs, pepper and tomato plants, spring-flowing bulbs, roses, and even a “fried egg” tree we transplanted from a friend’s farm.
So is our garden worthy of “yard of the month”? We think it is and so did the Committee. We are honored to showcase the bright blue sign in our yard for the entire month of May. “We owe it all to you, Mom,” I say with a heavy heart.
What is the Southport Garden Club and what is their mission? The mission of the Southport Garden Club is the advancement of gardening, support of horticultural education and the beautification of the town of Southport. The club was organized and federated in 1950 and is a member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc., South Atlantic Region (http://gardenclub.org) and the Garden Club of North Carolina, District 11 (http://www.gardenclubofnc.org/).
“We have two bluebird houses installed in a downtown Southport city park site which are maintained by our members. During the holidays, we donate greenery, poinsettias or flower arrangements to local nursing homes and make handmade ornaments for each Meals on Wheels recipient. Our members also plant and maintain Keziah Park Garden, Moore Street Triangle Garden and the planter boxes on Howe and Moore Streets,” says Vickie Matthews, President. Vickie goes on to say the club chooses a “Yard of the Month” which may be a yard of one of their members, a non-member or a local business in Southport. Each yard is judged by a committee who selects a garden based on design, color combinations and variety of plant materials. The owners are then given a bright blue sign to place in their yard for a month.
Their Garden Club hosts an Annual Plant Sale the last Saturday of April, which is their major fundraiser. Members sell a variety of indoor and outdoor plants, vegetables, trees and shrubs which they have grown, either from seed or cuttings.
The club also focuses on future horticulturalists by annually awarding a $1,000 scholarship. The 2018 recipient is Ben Fletcher, who completed his education in December and is now the Assistant Manager at the Players Club in St. James. The scholarship is for students at Brunswick Community College (BCC) in the Turfgrass Management or Horticultural Programs in the hope that they will stay in Brunswick County upon completion of their studies. The club has awarded a scholarship to a student enrolled at BCC since 2007, assisting students with tuition and other fees, thereby giving them the tools they need to succeed.
“We currently have thirty-seven active and active prestigious members [of the Garden Club] as well as twelve honorary members,” says Vickie.
Prospective members learn about the club through current members, friends or by visiting the City of Southport’s website and checking the Calendar of Events (http://southportnc.org/). Meetings are held seasonally on the second Tuesday of each month in Murrow Hall at Trinity United Methodist Church, 209 E. Nash Street, Southport.
This year the club moved to a much larger meeting space and hopes to have more programs to share with gardening enthusiasts and spark their interest in joining the club.
But for now, it’s your turn to get out and dig in the dirt this spring. There can never be too many hands to work alongside Mother Nature.
For more information about the Southport Garden Club, contact Vickie Matthews, President at firstname.lastname@example.org