Gardeners are a communal group of people. We like to share our plants. We like to share gardening solutions. We like to share our knowledge of the Kansas landscape. And we like to share our time. If you're looking for a forum in which to exchange gardening ideas with like-minded people, you may want to consider joining one of Lawrence's many gardening clubs.
Clubs seem to be popping up everywhere: book clubs, gourmet clubs, exercise clubs, travel clubs -- the list goes on and on. Gardening clubs are not new on the Lawrence social calendar; in fact, many of them have been in existence since the mid-20th century. Here are a few of the choices in Lawrence:
Meadowlark Garden Club
The Meadowlark Garden Club, a member of the National Garden Clubs and the Kansas Association of Garden Clubs, is 27 years old. It meets at 1 p.m. the first Tuesday afternoon each month at a member's home, although refreshments start at 12:30 p.m.
"The club is about sharing a love and joy of gardening, the environment, birds and natural resources," says Dorothy Curnes, a Meadowlark Garden Club member.
"We have many programs that feature all of these topics, and we work hand and hand with the K-State Extension Office quite often. The city will also make requests for the gardening clubs around town to assist with various projects like the relocation of the Teddy Roosevelt Fountain in South Park, which was a mission we recently accomplished."
Curnes says the club is also in the process of gathering plants that would have been seen on the Kansas Prairie hundreds of years ago for a project at Hobbs Park.
"But mostly it (the club) is about information sharing, enjoying the company of this extremely excellent group of people and the monthly programs," she says.
The programs for this year are: "What About Birds" for January, "Gardening Therapy" for February, "Shrubs of Kansas" for March, "Hy-Vee Floral Manager" for April, "Blue Bird Care" for May, "The Rotary Club Arboretum" for June, a luncheon in July, "Sharing Garden Ideas" for September, "Making Herbal Wreaths" in October, "Cooking with Herbs" in November, and finally, in December, a Christmas luncheon where canned foods are donated to a local charity and gifts for underprivileged Lawrence youth are bestowed.
The Meadowlark Garden Club has an annual fee of $15. Those interested in joining should call Dixie Olson at 842-7778.
Lawrence African Violet Club
The Lawrence African Violet Club was founded in 1951 to discuss and exchange the more than 2,000 registered varieties of African violets. The group generally claims anywhere from 15 to 20 members who meet monthly at a participant's home.
Della Hadley, club secretary, says the group sponsors two public events each year.
"The first is the Spring Sale, which is held the day before Mother's Day on the sidewalk in the Malls Shopping Center (23rd and Louisiana streets)," she says. "The second event is a show and sale held at the recreation center in South Park at the same time as the arts and crafts show, the second Sunday in September."
Green Thumb Garden Club
The Green Thumb Garden Club was chartered by the Kansas Associated Garden Clubs in 1959 by a group of stay-at-home mothers who wished to enrich their lives and their communities. In the early days, they provided plantings around new neighborhoods and schools. They still provide that support today. The group recently made available the funding for permanent markers for the horticulture at Prairie Park Nature Center and assisted with the purchase of a tree for the Girl Scout Park. The 21 members meet at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month at a member's home.
Mary Margaret Rowen, a member of the Green Thumb Garden Club, explains the group's focus.
"Our programs center on new products and new ideas for beautifying our home landscape. Twice a year we have 'Little Shows' and classes on horticulture or designs that enhance our skills for entering accredited garden shows, such as the Lawrence Daffodil Show held biannually.
"Recently we had a program on 'Edible Landscaping,' and for the July meeting we will make a meal from the fruits of that program."
Contact Wanda Waugh at 843-6670 for more information about the club.
Lawrence Flower Club
The Lawrence Flower Club is considered the oldest gardening club in Kansas. Started in 1925 and federated in 1929 this multigenerational club caters to both men and women with the common thread of a love for the garden and gardening.
The Lawrence Flower Club has a storied history. Club member Mary Lynn Stuart says the club has provided public plantings for Snow Hall, the Campanile Drive entrance on campus, the Social Service League, Fire Station No. 2, Centennial Park, South Park and the Lawrence Memorial Hospital lobby and chapel, among other locations.
"In 1972, the club distributed 600 redbud seedlings to fourth grade students in the city of Lawrence for planting at their homes," Stuart says. "In 1938, members of the Lawrence Flower Club made 1,300 bouquets to adorn soldiers' graves, and in 1939 they made 1,350 bouquets for the same occasion."
The club certainly has been busy helping to beautify Lawrence in the past, and it's still proactive in the community. The club currently is helping with the Sesquicentennial Point commemorative stone project and is donating funds for an old-fashioned lilac bed in the historic garden at the Murphy-Bromelsick House in Hobbs Park.
Other Lawrence gardening clubs include Designers Guild, Prairie Acres Garden Club and Countryside Garden Club. If you want to share your love of gardening and nature, get out and join one of these wonderful groups. You will be forever making a footprint on the Lawrence landscape and keeping our city beautiful.