green thumbs give back
The Monroe Garden Club is celebrating its 70th anniversary
Jim Scolman file photo
Garden Club members contribute to keeping the Julia V. Morris Garden at the Sky Valley Food Bank going.
MONROE —On the evening of June 24, 1952, a dozen ladies met for refreshments in a house on Lewis Street and founded the Monroe Garden Club.
Now nearing its 70th birthday, the club has grown to 65 members with officers and sub-committees. Its goal to celebrate gardening has bloomed into benefiting the community.
“It was about community, gardening, and how we could make a difference right from the get-go,” said member Jeannie Schwartz, a past president.
Club members maintain the flowers in hanging baskets that line city streets.
They grow fruits, vegetables and herbs for the Sky Valley Food Bank at the Julia V. Morris Community Garden on Sky River Parkway.
They host an annual sale featuring plants repotted from members’ gardens.
They have monthly gardening presentations September through May that are open to the public.
They oversee horticulture each year at the Evergreen State Fair.
And they gift an annual $1,000 scholarship to a local high school or college student whose educational focus is in horticulture.
“A lot of great ladies have done a lot of great things over the years,” said current club president Zoe Bolton.
Initial membership was restricted to 30 people, who paid annual dues of $1.25. The first president is listed as Mrs. William Rainwater.
Today dues are $24 a year ($36 for households). Members range from master gardeners to curious beginners.
One longtime member, Mildred Ness, still attends club meetings and gardens in her 90s.
As summer starts, Bolton is eager “to really go full bore again” after COVID disrupted club activities.
She said there will be an emphasis on finding good monthly speakers on a variety of topics such as landscaping, nurseries and how to deal with different soils. The club’s umbrella covers a variety of horticultural interests, from growing fruits and vegetables to landscaping.
“Our membership wants to be engaged,” Schwartz said. “That’s what we’re trying to establish. We’re getting it geared more toward people who want to learn.”
At least one field trip is planned, to Bellevue Botanical Gardens.
There is also talk of reviving the annual community garden tour, which stopped in 1997, and restarting monthly member luncheons which were suspended during the pandemic.
In 70 years the group has made just one alteration to its original Club Aim to “increase and stimulate a general interest in gardening.”
Recently, a new beginning was added: “To share our love of gardening with others…”
To contact the club, email GardeningSince52@gmail.com or find them at www.monroegardenclub.net
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