Bountiful beauty blooming
AuGres Garden Club gears up for planting season
AuGRES — The seeds planted in the springtime in AuGres create a fascinating view for the summer thanks to the AuGres Garden Club (AGGC), which is in its 58th year of operation.
According to Bonnie Haller, AGGC President, the flower gardens outside the AuGres City Hall, the Arenac County Historical Society (ACHS) Museum in AuGres, the AuGres Post Office, and the AuGres Veterans of Foreign War Posts are all the handy work of the club, which is made up of approximately 50 green-thumbed ladies.
“We weed, we water, we take care of those gardens all summer,” Haller said. “We break up in small groups (for each garden). … That’s your garden to work on for the season.”
And soon, the ladies of the AGGC will be out in full force adding color to the city.
“We start cleaning out the flower beds as soon as it gets warm enough,” said AGGC Secretary Jan Malace. “The term is after the first forsythia blooms. At least that’s what I was always told.”
Not only the forsythia tip that tells the Garden Club it’s time to plant was handed down to Malace or Haller, though. Both say the love of gardening and flowers they have today has been passed down to them.
“My mother was a master gardener, and she was a charter member of the Roseville Garden Club,” Malace said.
“My mother was a gardener big time and I had helped her as long as I could remember,” Haller added.
Now, Haller says she and other longtime members of the club are having their chance to share gardening knowledge with a new generation.
“We have got a group of young people and they’re very active and they’re very good for our club,” she said. “The AGGC is the oldest, longest running club in AuGres. … We’ve got a nice group that’s going to keep this club going.”
And according to Malace, if anyone thinks these women are just casual gardeners without a wealth of knowledge about planting, they’d be mistaken. She says the AGGC has guest speakers at its meetings throughout the year who share new information regarding different types of flowers, composting, grass and new gardening techniques with the club to keep the members sharp.
Malace says the garden she maintains at the ACHS museum requires some of the skills she has acquired through the years.
“The museum has a lot of shade. If you put plants that need a lot of sun there, they won’t thrive. That’s part of the education,” she said. “That’s one of the challenges of a gardener. You want to plant a garden in the spring and have it bloom until the fall.
“That’s the goal – to have your garden be beautiful right up to the winter.”
However, a late start has slowed the ladies a little so far this year.
“We try to have the gardens done by Memorial Day, but so far this year the weather has not cooperated with us,” Haller said.
But getting the gardens ready for Memorial Day isn’t the only thing the AGGC spends its time on.
“We’re very philanthropic, too,” Malace said. “A lot of the women that are involved are involved in other things too.”
She added the club has fundraisers during the AuGres Pirate Festival and walks in the AuGres Memorial Day Parade, and that last Christmas the AGGC helped with baskets prepared by the AuGres Christian Charities by making bows and lap robes.
And throughout the calendar year, Haller says the club gets plenty of compliments for its work.
“The most rewarding part for me is when people come up to me and say ‘I went to city hall’ or ‘I went to the post office’ or ‘I went to the museum and your flowers looked beautiful,’” Haller said. “Last year a lady made a special call to me and said ‘I smelled your flowers at the post office and it was just great.’ Now that’s rewarding.”
Haller, who is a retired master gardener, says even today, with members who have been in the group for over 30 years, the club still meets every month during planting and growing seasons.