'Digging and Doing' Pinehurst Garden Club Members Make a Difference
By Tom Embrey
The seeds for the Pinehurst Garden Club were planted in 1981 when a group of 10 women got together with a collective mindset to beautify the village. Over the last three decades, the group has taken root and flourished thanks to a continued commitment from its membership, who are dedicated to digging deep, getting dirty and making a difference.
"It was more social then," says current club president Dolores Muller. "Over the years we have decided that we wanted to be more of a working club."
Founded as one group, the Pinehurst Garden Club now has five branches - Dogwood (founded in 1981), Magnolia (1982) , Pine (1982), Holly (1983) and Azalea (1985) - with 24 members in each branch.
The 120 total members participate in numerous activities throughout the year as part of their respective branch. The membership also comes together to work on larger projects, like its annual plant sale.
Each season, members of the garden club spend a morning planting flowers in and around the village of Pinehurst. And each branch has specific projects it concentrates on throughout the year.
The club has donated shrubs to the Harness Track, bird baths and fountains to Sandhills Community College, and a water garden to Weymouth Center.
Additionally, each year they purchase and plant plants at Habitat for Humanity homes. They have also worked on projects at the Village Arboretum, the Greenway trails and the Fair Barn, among others.
And in addition to the numerous activities the group does to keep Pinehurst beautiful, it also holds two luncheons a year, and at each garden club monthly branch -meeting, from September to April, a speaker is invited or an educational program is -presented so members can keep learning.
The group also funds a scholarship at Sandhills Community College, and donates to other horticulture-related endeavors.
It is those hands-on activities that members say is the reason the club has grown and sustained its membership for the past three decades.
"We are not just a bunch of old ladies eating cookies and drinking coffee," Muller says.
To be a member of the group, you must reside in Pinehurst, and be interested in "planting, digging and doing," Muller says.
Muller has been a member of the group for 19 years, and she says she is proudest of the fact that the club now gives away a full $5,000 scholarship to an SCC student majoring in a horticulture field.
Local Pinehurst Garden Club scholarship recipients include Graham Gulley, co-owner of Gulley's Garden Center in Southern Pines; Chris Jones, who manages the greenhouses for Pinehurst Inc.; and Jack Karstaedt, the groundskeeper for Kenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina.
For more than two decades, the club members have put on the spring plant sale, the group's largest fundraiser.
The first scholarship fund was established in 1997, and each year the club is able to raise enough money to fund a full scholarship through their plant sale.
To fund the yearly scholarship, the entire membership, 120 strong, participates in the plant sale. They begin taking pre-orders in February for vinca, begonias, impatiens and geraniums.
Then, in late April, the sale is held in the parking lot in the village of Pinehurst. People pick up their pre-ordered plants, and additional plants, herbs and hanging baskets are sold that day.
Any money remaining after the scholarship is funded is used for community beautification projects.
This next plant sale will be held Saturday, April 20, in the parking lot next to the main Pinehurst Fire Station at the corner of Magnolia Road and Rassie Wicker Drive. This is the first year for the new location. Prior sales were held in the sand parking lot.
Betty Hurst has been a garden club member for 29 years. She is one of the longest-tenured members of the club. She says she could have stepped aside years ago, but that she enjoys the camaraderie and the opportunity to interact with younger members.
"It is nice to have younger friends," she says "I think it is good for the club for the young and the old to mix together. For me it is nice to be there for others. Now, I'm kinda like a historian for the garden club."
Hurst, 86, said she, like so many other members of the club, still enjoys "doing what we can to keep the village as beautiful as possible."
Club member Susan Maguire says the members of the club rarely get time off, a fact that she really enjoys.
"All year long we are busy," Maguire says. "We are meeting, planning or doing."
Member Elizabeth Kimsey says she gets a good feeling when she travels around town and sees all the good work the group does.
"When I pass through the village, I think it's really beautiful," she says. "And I hope that other people will look at it and know the garden club did that."
Barb Jandera has been a garden club member since 1982. She says she loves what the group does, and she looks forward to regularly working with an enthusiastic group of women who make such a positive impact.
"I can't believe the changes since we moved here, and a lot of it is due to the work of our garden club," Jandera says.
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or tembrey @thepilot.com.
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