By Molly Weeks Crumbley
“Spring is here (I think!),” exclaims president Helen Prince in the Calvert Garden Club newsletter. “I always love this time of year with the reddish-purple redbud trees, the yellow forsythia, the purple and pink hellebores and the camellias, along with many yellow and white daffodils.”
For the Calvert Garden Club members, each spring ushers in a new season of activities, educational opportunities, and community outreach. This spring is especially exciting as it will be the club’s 85th birthday.
In 1936, Betty Briscoe gathered ladies together for the first meeting of the Calvert Garden Club and secured membership in the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland. Since then, the club has been continuously active throughout the county, partnering with many organizations and schools to put on events and assist with gardening projects.
“I think one of the biggest successes is that we have impacted Calvert County in many positive ways,” says Adele Maguire, one of the longest-serving members. “Every December we decorate the courthouse square with wreaths, sprays and other fresh greens. This is our gift to the community.” Other notable community gifts include book-themed flower arrangements for Books in Bloom at Calvert Library, a summer Art Blooms exhibit at Annmarie Gardens, and serving as caretakers of the gardens at Linden and Boyd King Parks in Prince Frederick and the Blue Star Memorial in Solomons.
Maguire first got involved in Calvert Garden Club in 1998. “I had just retired from the federal government and was looking for something that would keep me busy, allow me to make some new friends and most of all to teach me about plants and flowers. This club did all of that!”
Since then, Maguire says she has made lasting friendships and gained a wealth of horticultural knowledge. The biggest change that she has seen since her early days is the size of the membership. “Originally, the club was small enough that members met in homes; today we meet in a church hall. When the club was formed, members did not work outside of the home; today members come from all walks of life.”
Over its 85 years, Maguire says the club’s faced its biggest challenge when the pandemic began. The club had to figure out ways to keep active during the lockdowns and social distancing. “Our president at the time, Joyce Fletcher, did everything she could to keep us interested and up-to-date on what was going on with members.”
The pandemic postponed the garden club’s 85th anniversary celebration, so this year they will commemorate the occasion on May 21 with a gala in the style of Old Hollywood, complete with 1930s period outfits, Art Deco decor, and hundreds of flowers.
Before the celebration kicks off, though, members have their annual plant sale to look forward to on April 30. “We will be selling plants from our own gardens as well as other items including herbs, bulbs, perennials, annuals, hanging baskets, baked goods, and garden estate sale items,” says Corresponding Secretary Andrea Kroll. The sale will take place rain or shine from 9am to noon at Christ Church in Port Republic.
Maguire adds that the plant sale prices are well below what is charged at commercial stores, and the proceeds allow the garden club the means for community service projects and charitable donations to further gardening and landscaping projects.
Longtime member and former president Joyce Fletcher says that the annual sale is a great way for beginning gardeners to get started. “I would say daylilies are easy, several types of iris, azaleas, daffodils,” she recommends.
Maguire recommends Shasta daisies, columbine, snapdragons, dianthus, marigolds, and coleus. “New gardeners should start off with a manageable size garden, pick a place that is sunny with good soil and do not plant too early in the spring,” says Maguire.
Master Gardeners will be at the plant sale to offer advice and answer questions.
For more information about Calvert Garden Club or events: calvertgardenclub.com.