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.
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.
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.
For more information:
- On the Web: Manchester Garden Club