The Country Gardeners celebrated 20 years last week, where present and former members reminisced about projects and trips taken through the years. A club founder and the current president, Judi Mortensen said the club began when she and her sister had the first meeting in her kitchen. Knowing a few master gardeners, and because of their interest in gardening, the ladies decided to start a gardening club.
Mortensen said an initial goal of the club was to encourage people to start gardening in the area and to, "take care of the land."
Twenty years later, there are 70 members in the club, with people actually on a waiting list to join. As the club grew from 18 members in 1994, up to 78 in 2005, it was decided to limit the number to 70 because of fire laws that restricted the number of persons who could be in the meeting place.
A member for 15 years, Joan Perna writes the club's popular newsletter. Perna said she loves the club because of the many educational presentations given through the club. In the October newsletter, Perna wrote that the club was established to, "encourage the love of gardening, to share our knowledge, to protect our environment, conserve our natural resources and to stimulate our creative talents."
In 1994, the club began discussions about where flowers could be planted in Bingham Park near the gazebo. In 1995, the ladies competed in their first flower show at Montage Mountain Ski Lodge, where they went home with first prize in the vignette category and the National Council of State Garden Clubs Educational brown ribbon, which happened to be the highest award given in the education category.
Raffles have been held since 1995, when the ladies wanted to increase the club's treasury. At the annual Christmas Party in 1996, $75 was donated to the Wayne County Children's Bureau. Since 1997, members have continued to donate items for the party raffle, with the funds being matched by the club and donated to the Bureau. To date, the club has donated over $3,000 to the Wayne County Children's Bureau.
Later on, the ladies began suppling the Honesdale and Hawley libraries with books. Years ago, when Perna joined the club, she figured it was just about gardening. She quickly learned that wasn't the case. And today, because of all the educational experiences, she thoroughly enjoys being a member. Perna said education is the club's, "mantra," while it is also very much a social club.
Ten years ago, Bonnie Christenson joined because of Perna. Retired and wanting something to do, Christenson knew she liked gardening and so it was a good fit.
With many organic gardeners, there are also quite a few members who may be considered master gardeners as they have owned nurseries and been judges at shows. The club's main idea though, is about members having an opportunity to learn new things.
Page 2 of 2 - In the October newsletter, the club's first president, Helen Fiorio wrote that the success of the club is due to the members. The club's success, she said, will continue because of the members' dedication.