The small garden club that can and does – The Mercury News

The world is changing so fast and so many home and garden clubs and tours have disbanded over the years that it’s stunning that a small happy garden club in Marin is constantly thriving throughout.

Founded in 1934, the Novato Garden Club celebrates its 88th anniversary this year – just 12 years until its 100th anniversary – bringing friends, gardeners and the community together with fun activities and civic pride.

So how does this group continue to work, especially when we lose so many people?

“For me, people and determination, as well as adapting to the times, are what we will continue after the pandemic subsides,” says Karoline Esquivel, secretary of the board of Novato Garden Club. “Gardening was the‘ trick ’that held us together, but I think the friendships we shared also played a part in it. I don’t think anyone wants to and doesn’t even think about giving up. ”

Other reasons include being involved in attractive projects and engaging in activities that often occur outside of business hours.

According to Esquivel, the group’s long-standing mission was to arouse and arouse interest in home gardening and beautifying the community, and “provide a social environment for all gardeners to exchange ideas and work together”.

Although the former membership was higher, sometimes exceeding 100 members, in the past the club has been operating at full speed, with about 22 members.

Novato Garden Club members create festive decorations by hand to raise money for their club and charities.

“COVID has made it difficult to recruit and personal activities are limited,” says Esquivel. “However, there is still a growing interest in gardening in all ages in our community. Many found it to be a good project to get involved when they have more time at home. ”

If you’ve ever admired the plantations on the corners of Novato’s Redwood Boulevard, housed in about 20 large containers, you’ve seen the club’s dedicated work. Members have been installing and maintaining these planters for years.

“In November of this year, we decorated them with cyclamen in a combination of red, pink, white, purple and pink-white,” he says. – We have received a lot of positive feedback from people.

Members also organize two major fundraisers each year, both of which have been temporarily modified to reflect epidemiological protocols. May Mart is an annual plant sale featuring ornamental and vegetable plants propagated by club members and then sold to the public.

Traditionally, this event was held on the Saturday before Mother’s Day at Pini Hardware in Novato, but when COVID struck, the club turned around and the sale took place on members ’highways.

Due to another change this year, the event has been renamed the Spring Flower Sale and will take place on April 23rd.

“We thought April was the right time to hold the sale because that’s when more people start planning for spring,” Esquivel says.

The club’s other money-maker is the Holiday Faire, co-sponsored by the city of Novato, on the first weekend of December at the Margaret Todd Senior Center. Items for sale include lavender sachets, wreaths, swags, and bundles of mistletoe handmade by members, as well as many pieces of foliage and cuttings supplied by the city’s maintenance department.

The group’s profits will be used to fund annual scholarships for the reforestation of California’s burnt-out areas of the College of Marin’s horticultural students through the Penny Pines Reforestation Program, the Marin County Fair and the Miwok 4-H Club.

Esquivel quickly points out that while it’s a working club, “we’re having a good time. The members share knowledge about the plants and exchange plants and seeds. ”

They organize and enjoy the richly visited Valentine’s Day and festive lunches, the monthly cauldron lunches from September to June, and the garden-related field trips, which are now paused.

They maintained their camaraderie even during the epidemic.

“It was a difficult time, but we started by holding some Zoom meetings,” he says. “One of our members regularly wrote a blog about events in his garden and other things that were fun and got a lot of fun. Then we had some gatherings in the park in the summer, and finally we started meeting again at the Margaret Todd (Senior Center) in September.

This month’s meeting has not yet been confirmed due to the omicron variant.

“We’re going to go with the tide,” he says.

And they are always welcome to see new members.

“There are no requirements and you don’t have to live in Novato, just pay the membership fee ($ 40 a year) and get involved with the club,” he says. “This way you can meet new people, renew old friendships, learn more about gardening and preserving our environment.”

To join, visit

Don’t miss the event

• Meet “David Austin and the Romance of the English Roses” as the Marin Rose Society presents David Austin’s expert Suzanne Horn in a free virtual performance on January 25 at 7:30 p.m. Call 415-457-6045 or visit .

PJ Bremier writes about home, garden, design and fun topics.

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