By JANELLE BONIFACIO
A large panel of high-ranking members sat at a long table at the front of the room for the Villa Garden club’s 70th anniversary celebration.
Among the most notable attendees to this special event were Gaye Stewart, President of the Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs; Peggy Olin, Pacific Region Director; and District Directors Chris McClure and Carole Schuldt of Portland, Saundra Rossi of Clackamas and Carol Moore of Multnomah.
Members took turns in a show-and-tell segment called “Horticulture Section.” They explained the types of plants they currently have growing in their yards, sharing gardening tips. Members also brought in their own plants for sales, trades and giveaways. This year’s theme was bulbs, an excellent family of plants to share with other members and a fabulous way of building the community. Members were reminded to start potting plants for the club’s annual plant sale Saturday May 12, which will be held at the Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, 12505 N.E. Halsey St. Proceeds from this sale go to one of several causes: the Lettuce Grow Garden Foundation, a program in which inmates can learn to garden; the Eagle Creek Fire Restoration Fund; the Hull Park and Retreat Center for the Blind and Low Vision; and SnowCap Community Charities.
Several display tables lined the walls, showcasing historical club items for the 70th anniversary celebration. One table held the club’s directory, which includes names of all members and hundreds of flower descriptions. McClure explains that each year a new committee is assigned to take on the project, and so each book has its own unique personality. Adjacent to that table sits an array of pages fanned out in plastic sleeves. These are scrapbook pages that will be compiled for next year’s binder. There are club history scrapbooks dating back as far as 1954.
Per tradition, there was a potluck at the event featuring a large array of delicious home-cooked meals as well as a vanilla cake decorated in honor of the 70th anniversary. Tables were also beautifully decorated with eucalyptus, baby’s breath and driftwood. McClure made it very clear that they never use fake plants in their displays.
Jerry Ruff and Ralph Minden, who sit on the board of directors, spoke of the importance of pollination with great passion. Minden explained how he and his wife, Kathy, created a pollinator garden to educate children about nature and life at Vance Park in Gresham. Minden went on to say that flowers are being destroyed at such a fast rate by overdevelopment and pesticides that even the state government has become involved in planting flowering plants to keep the pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, healthy. Minden also spoke about how excited he was that regulations were being passed so residents in Gresham can legally raise bees.
Among the oldest of attendees was 96-year-old Marie Givens. She’s been a member since 1988 and says what she enjoys most is the community that the club offers.
Stewart spoke of the importance of the Villa Garden Club, stating that it’s her chance to give back to nature and the community. Her focus is growing pollination plants, which is why her mantra is “plant a seed, reap a harvest.” She says that in Oregon there are 500 types of bees, 70 percent of which make their homes in the ground and suffer greatly from pesticides and over development.
The Oregon State Federation of Garden Clubs contains 14 districts, 86 clubs, and total of 2,500 members. Villa Garden Club will be partnering with several other clubs to help create the fall festival at the Oregon Gardens in Silverton on Sept. 22 and 23. The event will be open to the public and will feature a floral design show, a horticulture display, workshops for all ages, 40 different plant venders and a keynote speaker.
Pacific Region Director Olin is currently serving a two-year term and travelling to eight states to attend all major meetings. She will then pass on the information from the regional level down to the district level; as well support the planting of native plants in each region. Olin explained that her involvement with gardening began as a family affair; her father was a “holistic gardener” whom she often helped. She continues to pursue that interest with the same values her father had. Since 2003, Olin has worked with the historic Zimmerman House (founded in 1874), where she started their butterfly garden. The house is open every third Saturday of the month.
The day ended with a floral design presentation. Categories included landscape, gardening study and symposiums. Each category had very specific guidelines. Three local district directors showcased their beautiful floral designs and unique aesthetics. A common theme in this year’s presentation was the addition of the new, modern “mandolin sticks,” which are organically dyed reeds bound with wire that add an element of dynamic moment and energy to the designs. Schuldt, one of the designers, explained how she integrated these modern accessories with vintage vases and composition styles that dated back to the mid-1900s. Her scrapbook contained magazine clippings dating as far back as 1952 illustrating the floral arrangements that inspired her designs today. “Floral design has evolved over the years,” Schuldt explained, “but it still remains true to its roots.”