Garden Club works to beautify Whitney

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

May 19, 2022

Debbie King, Master Gardener of four years, traveled from New Braunfels to present a program on the care and feeding of perennials at the Lake Whitney Garden Club meeting, Thursday, May 12. Perennials are plants that live more than two years. A few perennials native to Central Texas include: Autumn Sage, Firebrush, Mexican Sage, Mexican Oregano, Rosemary, Muhly Grass and White Rain Lily. King said, “I plant perennials mainly so that I have food for butterflies, monarchs mainly, and hummingbirds. A lot of birds will eat berries and seeds off of different types of perennials… One of my main purposes is to make sure I have plants to sustain our wildlife.”


The Lake Whitney Garden Club had its beginnings in 1950. The original name was Lake Whitney Community Garden Club and was changed in 2010. The club meets monthly to discuss ways to beautify Whitney. The club’s 40-plus members enjoy learning new tips and tricks about gardening, socializing and brainstorming ways to better the city. The club takes on projects that the whole community can appreciate.


Pat Huffman, garden club project coordinator and past garden club secretary, said, “Anybody can join. When we have our programs at the library, all of the members bring a salad, and we have a great luncheon. We have a guest speaker, which is educational to any area of gardening. We have vegetable gardeners, perennial gardeners, Texas superstars, butterfly gardeners..” The dues are $25 a year for individuals and $35 for family membership. This money goes toward the club’s Christmas party at the end of the year.


The main areas the club is known for maintaining are the garden in the alleyway in downtown Whitney, the flower beds in front of Lake Whitney Public Library, the entrance flower beds at the City Park and the entrance beds at Lake Whitney State Park. In addition to those areas, the club has also contributed to downtown Whitney by placing planters in front of buildings.


Terry Boyer, president of the garden club, considers the group a civic organization because it typically focuses on improving public spaces that are offered to the community for free. The other officers for 2022 are Linda Jones, vice president, Beth Woolsey, secretary and Lisa Vought, treasurer. Whitney Mayor Brad Slaten attended the April business meeting to suggest “micro projects” or small ways the group could bring plants to the town, whether it is planting a whole tree or placing more planters.


The club also serves the community by allocating a large portion of its funding to scholarships. This month it will supply two students with $1,000 scholarships each. The scholarships are meant to inspire the next generation of gardeners.


Juannelle Miller, who was the garden club president for three years said, “We need farmers, and we need people who understand agriculture and what it takes to feed a nation… I think it is important for young people to understand the environment. Everybody is worried about climate change, and that is part of it.” Giving scholarships can motivate people to begin learning at a young age about how to reduce their carbon footprint by relying on food from the garden.


Boyer said, “We’re also working with the Whitney Business Alliance, and we’re getting ideas from them.” She said that beautifying the downtown area with plants is an effort near and dear to the heart of Carol Eubank, Whitney Business Alliance president. Whitney seniors sometimes take prom and graduation photos in the garden downtown. The WBA and the garden club are hoping to collect information from residents on what their ideal vision for the area would look like, if time and money were not an object.


One form of funding for The Lake Whitney Garden Club is the sales it makes at Pioneer Days, where members sell plants of all kinds, along with aprons and produce bags.


Last year, it sold out of gardening aprons and produce bags. The club has been hard at work hand crafting and sewing more aprons for the next Pioneer Days. This year the club will also have a raffle with a quilt, art prints and aprons.


Boyer said she enjoys watching people find their niche in the garden club. Some thrive in raising funds for the club or participating in the scholarship committee; others are sewing experts; others love to propagate plants for sale; some are natural leaders, and others just take pride in being part of an organization that works to make positive change for its town.


Boyer said her favorite part of her role as president is “Just watching everybody come together and do what they love, whether it’s gardening, propagating or helping with the sewing.” Boyer is also proud to be a lifelong learner, who gains new knowledge at every meeting.


The garden club has one work day in the spring and one in the fall. For those work days, club leaders are mindful of participants’ varied physical conditions, and they said there is a place for everyone at garden club work days.


“We’re trying to encourage people to volunteer. You can hold the bag, or you could go get a rake. You don’t have to be on your hands and knees in the dirt,” Boyer said.


Miller also said she appreciates that the club has opportunities for everyone. “It’s a very good group of women. They work hard together, and everybody does what they can do, but you don’t ask them to do more than they can do,” Miller said.


The garden club teaches people how to improve their landscaping skills so that they can make the garden in front of their home or business the best in the neighborhood. Displays of plants and flowers can help people take pride in where they live or work, according to Huffman.


On top of the fact that gardens can be aesthetically pleasing, studies show that gardening has physical and psychological benefits. The hobby exposes people to vitamin D, boosts the immune system, alleviates stress and improves mental health by reducing levels of cortisol, a chemical released in the body in times of stress.


Gardening is also a full-body workout that can improve strength and endurance. Physically active people have a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Daily gardening can even reduce the likelihood of developing dementia by 36%, according to the National Library of Medicine.


The club will take several field trips this year, including visits to the Japanese Garden in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, The Botanical Research Institute of Texas, a flower garden in Godley and Chandor Gardens in Weatherford.


Those interested in becoming a member of the garden club can attend a meeting. Meetings are the second Thursday of the month at Lake Whitney Public Library. Check The Lakelander for the next meeting.


Visitors are invited to enjoy the luncheon and learn about the planned topic for the month. Second-time visitors or members are encouraged to contribute to the potluck luncheon by bringing a salad dish of their choice.


For information about the club or how to join, email Terry Boyer at boyercnt@yahoo.com or Beth Woolsey, garden club secretary, at bwoolsey2@gmail.com.

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