By Clint Kimberling
The term “garden club” may bring to mind images of ladies playing bridge and snacking on tea sandwiches. What you don’t usually associate with a garden club are women pulling weeds and sweeping up downtown streets or renovating a dilapidated cemetery. But those are exactly the kinds of projects members of Starkville Town and Country Garden Club are involved with.
The Starkville Town and Country Garden Club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary later this fall. Today, the club has 29 members and each is required to serve on a committee that encourages community involvement. The club has 17 committees that cover a wide range of civic pursuits. These include Birds and Butterflies; Christmas; Education; Historic Preservation; and Garden Therapy just to name a few.
While gardening is not a prerequisite to becoming a member, an interest in it certainly helps. Publicity chairman Kathryn Laughlin explains, “Members are not required to have a home garden or even a certain level of knowledge. But all of our projects and meetings deal with some aspect of gardening or decorating.”
Kathryn has been a member for two years, making her somewhat of a junior member. She tells me there are several life members and some with 30 years of service. Laughlin explains why she was drawn to the organization: “First, I’m a gardener. I love the outdoors and flowers. Second, Garden Club allows you to work with others on projects that you might not do by yourself. The reward is the friendship that comes from working with others and seeing the project done.”
Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month. Each month a member presents “A Minute for Horticulture” which touch on various topics, including how to feed bird population, how to root a specific plant or flower, and other ways to understand better and improve home and garden. Conservation efforts and environmentalism are also at the forefront of the discussions. Each meeting also consists of a planned program every month with a guest speaker. Meeting speakers have included master gardeners, interior decorators that give instructional talks. The group also recently took a field trip to the Homestead Education Center.
Town and Country Garden Club focuses on several service projects throughout the year. At Christmastime, the club provides wreaths for the entrances to the Louisville and Glen Street Cemeteries as well as decorates the Starkville Public Library Christmas Tree and the Oktibbeha County Court House. The Garden Therapy Committee develops and maintain a butterfly garden at a local personal care facility and provide garden therapy activities at other care facilities. They also provide scholarships for students to attend the MSU Garden to Table camp.
One of their biggest undertakings was a collaboration with the First Presbyterian Church on the renovation and landscaping of the Glen Street Cemetery. They worked with other civic groups to tear down an old fence, leveled off, and landscaped the grass. Of the service projects, Kathryn points out, “We run the gamut. We try to reach all ages from our scholarships for students to garden therapy and personal home care for seniors.”
To fund these service projects, the club holds a biannual benefit luncheon, Tablescapes, and Tastings. The luncheon generates funds for Garden Club projects throughout the year. This year’s luncheon will be held on Tuesday, April 5th at the Starkville Sportsplex.
The members will divide into teams and create a tablescape as well as a menu item to complement the theme of “Showers to Flowers.” Patrons can expect to see umbrellas, decorative rain boots, and garden art. Luncheon chair Susan Street claims, “The SportsPlex will be transformed on that day. The decorations will be lovely.”
The featured speaker at the luncheon will be Julie Spear who is a floral designer and a member of the Memphis Garden Club. Spear will be demonstrating floral designs for the spring on stage. Street says, “Julie Spear comes highly recommended to us, and we’re excited to have her for the luncheon.”
Approximately a dozen vendors will also be on-site. These will include local artists and stores featuring their tablescapes as well as gardening and home décor items. Susan adds, “The purpose is to showcase local vendors, to let people see what they’re going to have in their stores, and what’s new for the spring season. The luncheon will give people ideas of how to use tablescapes, and provide them with inspiration for their home and garden all while serving them a very tasty spring meal.”
Tickets for Tablescapes and Tastings are $35. For ticket information contact Babs Deas at 662-418-5155.