“We’re a hands and knees garden club,” said Mountain Gardeners member Sandra Reilly, Waitsfield, referring to the fact that the 32 members of the club maintain a handful of public gardens in The Valley and also conduct an annual plant sale where members sell perennials that they dig, divide and pot from their own gardens.
That annual sale is coming up on June 5 and takes place in the green space between Shaw’s and the Slow Road in Waitsfield from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The sale raises funds for a Harwood Union scholarship.
Reilly has been a member of the club for some 20 years and notes that an average plant sale features 300 to 400 perennials from members’ gardens.
When the club was founded 29 years ago it quickly became so popular locally that a member needed to move, leave or die for someone on the waiting list to be added, she said, but now, new members are welcome.
“But they have to be ready to work. We work on the public gardens around The Valley. We get contributions from people in the community for our sale and we screen them meticulously for weeds and invasives like bishop’s weed,” she said.
Dorothy Van Houten, Warren, is a past president of the club and has been a member since it was founded by Betty Coda, Rena Chernick, Eleanor Brightenback, Nancy Clark, Trudi Benham and herself.
“We originally met in members’ houses, but after three years we had too many people to do that. We had to find larger spaces,” she said.
MORE HANDS ON
Initially club members focused on learning about gardening, landscaping and flower arranging, but gradually became more hands on, creating and maintaining public flower gardens in Warren, Waitsfield and Moretown as well as the Joslin Memorial Library. Members make table centerpieces for Evergreen Place (pre-pandemic) as well as holiday favors for Meals On Wheels recipients.
In addition to conducting the annual plant sale to raise funds for the Harwood scholarship which goes to a student planting to study agriculture or something similar, club members donate loose change to a national organization that is working on reforestation.
Van Houten said that pre-pandemic club members met 11 months of the year and enjoyed lectures, tours of each other’s gardens, trips to commercial gardens and the Boston Flower Show as well as the Montreal Botanical Gardens and other field trips.
Van Houten, Reilly and the other members of the club will be on hand at the plant sale on June 5 to talk to the public about the offerings and specifics about planting them. People will be asked to wear masks and maintain physical distancing. Anyone interested in joining the club can contact Betsy Norman at 496-7109.