Quechee’s Garden Club is growing, says its president, Joyce Baldwin, and she doesn’t
mean only the displays decorating various key spots in town. “We have 137 members, and add three or four more every month.” Such growth is good for most any group, especially one like the Garden Club which boasts members who’ve been there for 30 years and who welcome new hands carrying on their projects and enthusiasm.
In January, 38 people attended the meeting to hear a member of the Vermont Land Trust speak on ”The Dynamic River.” Anyone who was in Quechee in August 2011, for Tropical Storm Irene knows the importance of this topic. A possible follow-up event may be a tour of some of the banks of the Ottauquechee River.
Joyce has lived in Quechee for less than five years, and she has found the Quechee Garden Club is a wonderful way to meet “active, interested people.” The garden club meets through the winter, with lectures on growing certain plants, or hands-on workshops such as “Making Miniature Arrangements,” which can dress up a bathroom for a party or provide points of interest on a dinner table without blocking views across the table.
As part of its mission to ”share and encourage the joy of gardening, [and] sponsor civic, educational, and beautification projects,” The Garden Club maintains the lovely gardens at the library and the post office, as well as planting the beds at the feet of the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association (QLLA) directional signs in summer and decorating them with evergreens in winter.
The spring plant sale supports much of the activity of the Club, including a scholarship to a local student pursuing an education in topics such as forestry or horticulture. It’s a large and cheerful event, full of hopeful gardeners trying new things or collecting their favorites for a new season.
Joyce herself doesn’t garden much these days. “I had extensive gardens when we lived in Ohio,” she says. But, echoing the sentiments of westward-moving Vermonters, “my land is rocks and poor soil.” Also, she has a two-year-old Frisbee-catching Aussie, and ”dogs and gardening are not compatible.”
Wildlife is a further obstacle to local gardeners who may sometimes object to part of the Club’s mission “to further encourage the conservation of natural resources and wildlife.” Deer, charming to some, are pests that devour many favorite plants. Tulips! Yum! Gardeners must select plants from a not-always-reliable list of “Plants Deer Don’t Like.” Even soil improvement can be a challenge with bears raiding local compost piles. Joyce does garden some at the Upper Valley Haven a local shelter and food pantry in White River Junction, helping to provide food and cheerful flowers for those in need. “It’s a learning experience,” she says. “I didn’t know much about vegetable gardening.”
She’s always tried though. “When I was first married we lived in Maryland in an apartment with a balcony. We got a kiddie pool and filled it with soil and planted it with squash and onions. As a garden, it was not a success, but we always knew which balcony was ours when we looked up from below!”
Joyce encourages anyone – whether they have a “green thumb” or not – to join the Quechee Garden Club. You can contact the club by email at email@example.com, or visit their website at quecheegardenclub.org.