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Garden club thriving after 60 years


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May 02, 2013
Firmly rooted in Grosse Pointe, the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club of Grosse Pointe observes its 60th anniversary this year.

The club, founded April 23, 1953, began with 28 men. By August, the number had risen to 140 members and guests dedicating themselves to providing plantings at public sites, including Pier Park, as well as keeping their own gardens thriving. In 2008, the club admitted women to help carry out its projects and monthly meetings. Meeting topics have included care of roses, hydroponics, flower arranging, growing indoor plants and herb gardens, creating gardens to attract birds and butterflies and offering landscape design ideas to club members.

In addition to the speakers, the club holds an annual May plant sale that funds scholarships to send two Grosse Pointe South High School students to Interlochen Center for the Arts summer camp.

Through the club’s outreach program, members visit Grosse Pointe elementary schools assisting them in planting tomato seeds and explaining how to nurture the plants to maturity.

Talking to children in four elementary schools is one of Dan Beck’s favorite club projects.

“Teaching the young children how to plant tomato seeds and seeing their faces light up,” he said, is a highlight of the presentation. “We have a lot of fun doing the schools.”

The instructional talks pay off.

Beck related that one summer day, while walking in the village, a boy approached him explaining how well the tomato plant Beck helped him plant at school was thriving.

“I congratulated him,” said Beck, who has been a club member about 20 years.

Members also raise tomatoes in their gardens.

Whether well-known varieties or heirloom, the club gets together in October for a tomato-tasting event.

When gardens are generally at their blooming peak in August, the club holds a garden tour.

The tour is just among members and friends, Beck said. “It’s smaller. The gardens are magnificent. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a chance to show off what you have been doing.”

Beck said his lawn was designed by his wife, Jackie, and includes 80 herbs because she is a member of the Grosse Pointe Unit of Herb Society of America.

October is also the month during which the fall festival is celebrated with dinner, dancing and the presentation of awards to the men and women who have contributed to the club in some form.

This is followed in December by the Christmas Extra-vaganza with dinner and entertainment provided by the Grosse Pointe South High School song and dance ensemble.

It is here, the two scholarship winners sing a solo and talk about what they learned at Interlochen.

The Men’s and Women’s Garden Club of Grosse Pointe meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Thursday of the month in the Brownell Middle School cafeteria.

For more information, call (313) 473-8625.

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