Manchester Garden Club: 90 seasons of growing flowers and cultivating friendships

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“No rain, no flowers:” A sign on the wall at the Girls at Work headquarters was an appropriate decoration for the Manchester Garden Club’s 90th Anniversary gathering on June 8, 2023. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH – After 90 growing seasons and too many green thumbs to count, the Manchester Garden Club continues to be true to its central mission, of promoting gardening, conserving and protecting the environment and giving back to the community through service and beautification.

Thursday’s 90th-anniversary celebration was relocated due to stormy weather from Stark Park to the Girls at Work headquarters, which is where the club conducts its monthly meetings now, a new location – and partnership, according to Gail York, a past club president.

“We used to meet at the library but this past year we started to meet here, which has given us an opportunity to work with the girls,” York says.

A wooden planter with a hinged top that lifts to insert a potted plan was on display during the 90th Anniversary luncheon of the Manchester Garden Club on June 8, 2023. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Like many of the other changes in the way the club operates since its inception in 1933, sharing space with Girls at Work also means sharing experience – garden club members will be participating in summer camps that will give the girls a glimpse of the joys of gardening. And the girls will be able to show the gardeners a thing or two about the joy of building. York points to an impressive four-legged wooden plant stand constructed by the girls featuring a hinged top that opens up to hold a potted plant, one of the summer camp projects.

Over the decades community outreach has become more of a central focus of the club, according to co-presidents Fiona McKenna, Diane Beaudry and Jackie Rzasa. Throughout the year garden club members can be found doing spring and fall clean-ups and plantings at various seasonal gardens including at the City Library, the Gale House, Lamont-Hanley Park and Pulaski Park.

“I feel we make such wonderful friends with a love of gardening in common,” said Rzasa.

“It’s also therapeutic,” said McKenna.

Manchester Garden Club co-presidents from left, Fiona McKenna, Diane Geaudry and Jackie Rzasa.

A pot-luck feast for everyone as the Manchester Garden Club members celebrated their 90th anniversary on June 8. Photo/Carol Robidoux

In addition to Girls at Work, garden club members support a number of organizations through outreach efforts and financial contributions including Families in Transition, the YMCA, Manchester Animal Shelter, Manchester Growsand the Santa Fund.

While members all share a basic love of gardening and horticulture, everyone is welcome – even those who would like to learn.

Monthly meetings are third Thursdays, from March to December, and feature speakers on a range of topics – from plotting a perfect garden space and how to winterize, as well as hands-on workshops. Membership is $35 annually.

Gerta Cote, 93, is the club’s oldest member – born three years before the club was founded, she was enjoying a plateful of food Thursday when I had a chance to greet her.  She told me she came to Manchester as a war bride and has been a club member for longer than she can remember.

“My favorite flower is the gerbera daisy – it last such a long time,” she told me. And when I asked her what has been her favorite part of the club, she says, “I’ve made a lot of good friends here over the years,” also everlasting, no doubt, based on the fellowship and laughter that filled the room.

Extra-large sheet cake to celebrate 90 years of Manchester Garden Club.

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About this Author

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!