IT'S NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER'S garden club: The Laurel Garden club is changing the status quo.
If visions of ladies in Sunday dresses sipping tea and nibbling petit fours come to mind when thinking of garden clubs, think again. Today, clubs are addressing important issues such as conservation, education, and environmental concerns as well as promoting flower arranging and horticulture.
Prime examples of this shift in focus are found in the city of Laurel. Founded during the City Beautiful movement of the early 20th century, Laurel has a strong garden club tradition, with clubs working individually on specific club projects and joining together to enhance the city's appeal.
One such club is The Laurel Garden Club, a member of The Garden Club of America and The Garden Clubs of Mississippi, Inc. Club members recently donned jeans and T-shirts to eradicate invasive species in the town's historic Euclid Park, designed by the landscape firm of Frederick Law Olmsted. Among other projects, the club worked with park rangers to create the Tall Pines Discovery Trail, an educational experience in DeSoto National Forest that appeals to children and adults alike. A recent flower show was staged in the town's mall, providing an educational experience for a broad cross-section of area residents.
Members of Park Place Garden Club help maintain the grounds of Gardiner Park, also designed by the Olmsted firm and designated a national arboretum. Club members sponsor the Dandy Lions Junior Garden Club, allowing elementary school students to learn about gardening, flower arranging, and conservation. Members have found that girls and boys alike enjoy growing plants, creating flower arrangements, and learning about conservation.
Northwood Garden Club works with elementary students from several local schools, providing educational experiences that teach children about the importance of bees and butterflies to the environment. The club also maintains Laurel's Northwood Park.
These and other Jones County clubs will exchange ideas with gardening enthusiasts from across the state when The Garden Clubs of Mississippi, Inc. holds its annual meeting in Laurel April 16-18. One topic sure to be explored is the need for clubs to be relevant to young women, many of whom, unlike their mothers, are likely to have careers.
"Young women are looking for substance when they consider joining an organization," observes Mary Anne Sumrall, a member of Park Place Garden Club and co-chair of the statewide meeting. "As a result, clubs are featuring more hands-on projects that make a difference in their communities."
Barbara Sauls, the co-chair of the upcoming meeting and a member of The Laurel Garden Club and Southern Heritage Garden Club, agrees. "Today's garden club members are rolling up their sleeves and working in parks, schools, and community gardens," she says. "It's definitely not your grandmother's garden club anymore."
Caption: Members of the Dandy Lions Junior Garden Club celebrated Arbor Day by planting a tree on their school campus. The Dandy Lions are sponsored by Park Place Garden Club in Laurel.
Caption: TOP AND BOTTOM: Members of The Laurel Garden Club mark stands of invasive cogongrass for eradication in the DeSoto National Forest. Northwood Garden Club members maintain Northwood Park in Laurel, where they have installed bluebird boxes to attract these birds.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 2018|
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