Local gardeners may face a relatively short growing season, but members of the Red Deer & District Garden Club work to make the very most of it. They do that through regular meetings – all year long – as well as special events like the upcoming annual Flower & Garden Show which runs Aug. 20th at Festival Hall.
It’s free to both exhibit and to attend, with staging of exhibits on Aug. 19th from 5 to 8:30 p.m. and Aug. 20th from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Viewing times are from 2 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 20th.
There is also a garden tea party which runs from 2 to 4 p.m. with a cost of $5.
Folks don’t have to be Garden Club members to enter the show, explained Clarice Schulz, the event’s convener. Entry tags are available from her by calling 403-341-4351.
Local growers also shouldn’t be shy about entering the show – sometimes folks can find treasures in their own yards that deserve to be a part of the popular annual event, she said.
Typically, organizers expect between 400 to 600 entries.
For locals with a green thumb, both educational and social opportunities abound via the Red Deer & District Garden Club. The Club, whose origins stretch back to the early years of the last century, is still going strong.
Founded during the spring of 1911, the Club was originally known as the Red Deer Horticultural Society. Today, the Red Deer & District Garden Club is a non-profit organization and is a member of the Alberta Horticultural Association. Their intent is to foster an interest in all types of gardening and provide a forum for gardeners to get together and celebrate the love of gardening.
For the coming show, Club volunteer Bev Swanson describes it a friendly competition. Local businesses and some Club members have also donated prizes, she added. “There are cash prizes and gift certificates to be won from local businesses.
“Anyone can enter as well – we welcome everyone. You don’t have to be a Red Deer & District Garden Club member to enter. There are also over 240 classes to enter as well.
“I think the average would be about 200 to 300 in terms of who comes to see it.”
As for show judges, they are certified by the Alberta Horticultural Association.
Again, both women emphasize that local gardeners shouldn’t be intimidated about entering the show. “One lady – a dear member of the Club – always said to take a stroll through your own yard and you would be surprised by what you see that you can enter,” added Swanson.
Meanwhile, members meet at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre on the third Thursday of every month, starting at 7 p.m. with the exception of July, August and December.
Anyone who is interested in any facet of gardening is welcome to pop in. Memberships cost $20 for the year, and some of the meetings feature guest speakers on an array of topics.
Over the summer, members also go on tours around the area to explore a variety of gardens.
The gardens don’t necessarily have to belong to Club members – anyone who wants members to come and see their gardens is welcome and encouraged to extend an invitation. They’ve even had people contact them who don’t have a garden as of yet, but would like to hear from Club members about how to get started and map out an attractive mix of flowers and plants.
And things don’t come to a grinding halt during the colder months. Members meet all year to share tips, stories and they continue to enjoy special speakers and sessions to hone their skills.
As for the Club’s members, the joys of gardening are both plentiful and personally fulfilling. Simply being outside on a beautiful day and designing which flowers and plants go where is endlessly fascinating.
“I grew up with it. My mom always had beautiful flowers on the south side of our house, and we always had a big garden,” recalled Schulz. “I always loved working in the yard.”
Ultimately, members point out that if you have a house with a garden, a townhouse with a small courtyard, or an apartment with a planter, you can garden. Schulz points out that there seems to be a resurgence of interest in gardening as well, what with more and more community gardens popping up throughout the area, too, for example. “It’s nice to watch things grow.”
Memberships for the Club are available for a nominal fee, and newsletters are sent out each month with the exceptions of July, August and December.
Check out www.reddeergardenclub.ca.