Garden Club of Metuchen needs ‘green thumb’ recruits

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PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD MILLER
A horse trough brought to life by the Garden Club of Metuchen.

By Gloria Stravelli

Correspondent

METUCHEN – Members of the Garden Club of Metuchen are poised for a new season of planting, pinching, weeding, feeding, pruning, repotting, watering and generally nurturing the public garden spaces, plots, pots and plantings members tend throughout the borough.

The garden club meets on the first Monday of each month, September through June; however, due to the Labor Day holiday the first meeting of the 2021-22 season will take place on the second Monday, Sept. 13, from 6:45-9 p.m.

According to Richard Miller, president, the garden club had been meeting at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church but with renovations underway, will meet at a new location.

“We will resume meeting in a new venue at the Metuchen Senior Citizens Center, located at Center Street at New Street, while alterations are underway at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church,” Miller said, adding meetings are open to all, and new members are sorely needed to help with the club’s many projects.

Miller, a landscape architect, said he hopes to reprise last year’s theme for the club, which was sidelined by the pandemic.

“Our theme for last year was ‘Gardening Guerillas,’ because I wanted us to go around to particularly unloved parts of town and fix them up, clean, weed, plant things and we couldn’t do any of that because of COVID,” Miller explained.

“So I’m hoping that we get to some of that in 2021. That will be the theme again this year because we didn’t really get to execute it last year.”

According to Miller, “The club’s main focus is beautifying our little borough and trying to give back to the community when we can. So if we’re not doing something by planting or weeding or maintaining or revitalizing, we do scholarships and causes when they come up.”

Gardeners of all levels of experience, including novices, are welcome, and do not need to be residents of Metuchen.

“Anybody can come to meetings,” Miller said, “but we’d like them to become a member because we would like to have new members. Our main focus is beautifying the borough and giving back to the community.

“There are so many projects, we kind of need some younger members to help us with all the stuff we do,” he said.

“We do seasonal plantings. There are five public gardens that we maintain regularly and we also do occasionally get involved in other projects, when there is an area they ask us to help with.”

Charlotte Gudorp is vice president and coordinator for the garden club, which was organized in 1925 and currently has 40 active and two honorary members.

The club is an affiliate of state and regional garden clubs as well as a national network of community garden clubs.

The Metuchen Garden Club 2021-2022 Yearbook outlines club goals, which include creating and maintaining “beautiful public gardens throughout Metuchen for all to enjoy.”

Also, to promote vegetable and ornamental home gardening as well as environmental stewardship.

Membership in the garden club is open to gardeners at all levels of experience and they do not have to be Metuchen residents. While guests are welcome to attend the monthly speakers program, they are encouraged to become members after attending two sessions. Dues for the year for active members are $30 and $32 for associate members.

According to the club’s yearbook, the garden club is involved in numerous ongoing projects throughout Metuchen:

• Seasonal plantings and care of planter pots in the downtown for the Chamber of Commerce.

• Seasonal plantings at the Firemen’s Memorial, Memorial Park and the Historic Horse Trough Park, as well as upkeep of the latter site.

•Working with local Girl Scouts to beautify Tommy’s Pond.

• A Holiday Greens Workshop where members create seasonal items for sale as well as centerpieces for the senior center and décor for community holiday events.

• Oversight and care of plantings at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as part of the beautification of library grounds.

• Hosting a summer members garden tour.

• Plantings and holiday wreaths at Metuchen Memorial Park.

• Supporting a scholarship for a graduating high school senior planning to focus on a “green” industry like landscape architecture or horticulture.

“The club’s main focus is beautifying our little borough,” Miller said, “and trying to give back to the community when we can. So if we’re not doing something by planting or weeding or maintaining or revitalizing, we do scholarships and causes when they come up.”

All of these and more make new members a valuable resource, said Hall, who is also a project architect for the New York City Housing Authority.

“Membership in the garden club is open to everyone,” he stressed. “Feel free to join. We post the program for that month on our Facebook page.”

Gardens, plantings and verdant spaces are important to the quality-of-life of Metuchen residents, Miller believes.

“The town is a semi-urban hub,” he said, “lots are small for the most part, there are lots of small buildings close together. I think people just love green spaces.”

“Membership in the garden club is open to everyone,” Miller said. “Feel free to join. We post the program for that month on our Facebook page.”