Garden Club Looking for Growth

(C. Proxmire, Ferndale 115 News, July 31, 2012)

Since 1931 the Ferndale Garden Club has been connecting people through the love of horticulture.  The long-standing group met on July 28 for a membership drive meet and greet, and they will be busy again on August 4 as they host their annual Plant Exchange.

“We are a fun group.  It isn’t just straight gardening, we do other things too,” said President Carol Olson.  “There’s a lot of talking and we have food to share.”  Throughout the spring and summer, The Ferndale Garden Club maintains the garden at the end of Livernois where it dead ends into Oakridge.  And in the cooler months they have meetings with special guest speakers.

They also go garden expos and plant shows, and get involved in charity work.  Treasurer Don DeCenzo said that each December they participate in the Festival of Trees.  “It’s a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital,” DeCenzo said.  “We each take a little evergreen and decorate it at our expense and donate it for a big display.  The trees are sold to raise money for the hospital.  We also collect items for a women’s shelter.”

An ongoing effort is the maintenance of the garden, which started out as a vacant lot that was un-buildable because of the sewer line.  In 1993 the club approached the City about doing a garden there, and in 1995 work began.  “It started out with just a little patch in the front, an oval-shaped space where we planted flowers,” said Co-Director Laurie McPhee.  She said neighborhood children volunteered to dig the original planting area.  “The ground was really hard and it was a lot of work, but kids don’t mind. They jumped right in and had a ball.”

Several years after that, the group began landscaping out the property in sections.  “I remember we were bringing in compost and we’d take my car over to the city yard to get the compost and bring it back in buckets in my trunk and back right up on the grass to empty the buckets.  Finally someone from the city came along and said ‘what are you doing?’  He went and got a front end loader full of compost and dumped it where we needed it. …It was so much easier,” she said as the ladies and gentlemen laughed over the memory.

Over the years a pathway was built and benches were added, including a teak wood bench in honor of Jayne Warner who was a longtime President of the Ferndale Garden Club and a beloved teacher who lived from 1916-1998.  There is a also an engraved stone in her honor.  A water fountain was also installed by the City, with a drinking fountain on top and a nozzle where they can attach a hose to water.

On the first Saturday of the month, volunteers can be found at the park doing maintenance like watering and weeding.  They also do garden care at the Kulick Community Center on the second Saturdays.  “We have very giving members as evidenced by the way they come here and do work,” DeCenzo said.

Currently there are 37 members.  “We’re always looking for more members,” said Co-Director Valerie Kitchen.  There is a $20 cost to join, which includes membership in the Ferndale organization as well as in the Michigan Garden Club. While many members are retired adults, there is a need to broaden the participation across generations.

The Ferndale Garden Club Plant Exchange is a good opportunity to come out and meet the members – plus a way to pick out new plants and get rid of those that could use a new home.  The exchange is held Aug. 4, 2012 from 9am to noon at the Kulick Center (1201 Livernois).  The Ferndale Garden Club can be found online here (complete with music), or can contact President Carol Olson at ciordoimo@gmail.com for more information.


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NOTE:  Due to technical difficulties photos from the Garden Club Meet and Greet are not available.  Our apologies to the Ferndale Garden Club for the unfortunate lack of pictures.