Seattle is famous for its constant changes in weather on an hourly basis. It can go from cloudy to misting to downpours and then to sunshine, all while you're eating lunch.
The National Garden Club Convention for 2013 was recently held in Seattle. Club members from all 50 states, along with international club members, gathered at the Sheraton Hotel to honor outgoing national chairmen and welcome newly elected ones.
As one of over 500 participants, I was thrilled for the opportunity to meet fellow gardeners from all 50 states. Tours to local parks and gardens throughout the city, seminars on a variety of gardening topics and guest speakers discussing everything from food to floral designs all added up to an enjoyable convention, rain or shine.
Guest speaker Graham Kerr replaced his white chef's hat as the “Galloping Gourmet” with a broad-brimmed straw hat as the “Galloping Gardener” and spoke about growing what you eat and sharing your garden's bounty with friends.
Renee Van Rems, a florist based in Escondido, Calif., multi-tasked by creating massive arrangements in the Old Dutch Master style while describing the humorous side of being a floral designer. His vases were several feet tall and wide, which he deftly filled with armfuls of exotic foliage and flowers. His enormous mass arrangements were quite striking.
John Gaydos, CEO of Proven Winners, described the exacting process his company follows to create new annuals and perennials for sale to nurseries. Taking almost a decade to create each new variety, his company develops, tests and markets plants that can withstand a variety of climates and growing conditions and are developed to be continual bloomers.
Outgoing NGC President Shirley Nicolai described how National Garden Clubs Inc. provides local garden clubs with educational material, resources to complete garden projects and national networking opportunities to help promote the love of gardening, floral designing and participation in civic and environmental activities. The goal is to keep planet Earth green and growing.
To accomplish this far-reaching mission, garden clubs throughout the U.S. support a variety of local projects.
• The Blue Star Memorial Project honors our veterans with plaques and garden areas. To date, over 3,000 blue star markers have been installed along U.S. highways, at cemeteries, parks and government facilities.
• NGC maintains a butterfly garden, filled with butterflies and roses, at the three-acre U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.
• Recycling projects supported by garden clubs conserve our natural resources.
• To draw attention to the beauty of flowers and gardens, flower shows are held where flower arrangements and plants are exhibited. Flower shows help inform the public about the joys of gardening and identify plants that grow well in local areas.
• Many garden clubs support healing gardens where the fragrance, beauty and tactile experiences offered in a garden setting help people undergoing medical treatments feel more at ease and hopeful.
• Penny Pines is a project that helps the U.S. Forest Service by raising funds to replant forest areas with new trees.
• Children are encouraged to be good stewards of the land through gardening projects, floral design workshops and poetry, essay and poster contests sponsored by local garden clubs.
NGC offers its members educational courses on a variety of gardening topics: Environmental Studies, Flower Show School, Landscape Design Studies and Gardening Study School.
Outreach projects undertaken by NGC help support the following: Habitat for Humanity, Natural Disasters USA, Disaster Relief, World Gardening/Haiti and World Gardening. Along with donating funds to these projects, garden club members armed with trowels and plants assist in replanting, restoring and beautifying areas that have been damaged or are in need of improvement.
Money to fund these philanthropic projects is raised at the local level through individual clubs' fundraising activities and at the national level through the sale of a yearly flower arrangement and engagement calendar called Visions of Beauty. Photos of flower arrangements created by club members throughout the U.S. are chosen to accompany each month in the calendar.
For 2014, two local garden club members, Jane Buck and myself, were honored by having our arrangements selected for the 2014 calendar. The calendars can be purchased at local garden club events as well as by contacting local garden club presidents: Yuma Garden Club, Cal Kelley, 581-3981; Pecan Grove Garden Club, Willene Calvert, 782-7324; Yuma Orchid and African Violet Society, Trudy Gauntt, 580-5508; and MGM Garden Club, Beverly Peterson, 783-4741.
Through their broad umbrella of local and national activities, National Garden Clubs Inc. is positively impacting our country's civic and environmental needs. If interested in becoming part of this active organization, contact a garden club president for further information or attend a club meeting in September.
National Garden Week, June 2-8, is sponsored by National Garden Clubs Inc. and is a week that highlights the many ways garden clubs give to local communities. I would like to salute all four of Yuma's garden clubs for the many civic projects they have completed throughout the years.
Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of MGM Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.