Fifty years of gardening observed

By WANDA CHURCH

At the most recent meeting of the Desert Planters Garden Club, the speaker was Glenn Harris, who has been with the Bureau of Land Management for the last 30 years. If you attended his presentation, you were fortunate to have seen it. Not only did Mr. Harris know his subject, but he also gave his presentation using only photographs as reference points. He took most of the beautiful pictures himself.

He spoke on the effects of climate change, which began eons ago, on the flora, fauna, terrain and water issues of our area as well as the surrounding areas encompassing the BLM territory under his responsibility. He knew the history of his territory like the back of his hand and could tell the names of native plants, animals, lakes, mountain ranges, etc., without missing a beat. It was a treat to listen to a person so immersed in his occupation and who so obviously loved his job.

This program was made possible by the efforts of the garden club, and the public is invited to join members in attending presentations of this type throughout the year. If you have never been involved with a garden club or have no knowledge of its activities and always thought of club members as a group of little old ladies ooohing and aaahhing over their polka dotted petunias, you are in for a surprise.

In addition to interesting programs such as the one above, garden clubs are involved in worthwhile projects. The garden clubs have long supported the Penny Pines project in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, a project working for reforestation of areas destroyed by fire.

First and foremost though, home gardening is the main focus. At the monthly meetings, a horticulture show and tell is followed by a question-and-answer session on topics of interest to the members and guests.

Plant sales are one of the popular activities, and you can get great deals on plants, bulbs, trees and shrubs that are grown here and are known to thrive.

Each year you can attend or enter an official flower show sponsored by Oasis Garden Club and enjoy the competition or just looking at the specimens and imagining what it would be like at one of the huge flower shows. The flower show usually occurs during the fall Fair.

Community beautification has long been dear to the heart of the garden clubs. Think about Freedom Park and the beautiful evergreen trees that make such a nice backdrop for the Parade of 1000 Flags day. The Desert Planters provided most of those trees. Arbor Day is celebrated each year by planting a tree at a special location, be it the Gladys Merrick Garden at the Maturango Museum, at Mesquite High School or as a memorial for a special person. In the early days of club existence, many daffodil bulbs were made available to cheer up the dry, desert landscape.

Have you been walking on the hiking trail near Walmart and stopped to rest on the bench just across the ditch? That bench was a gift from a garden club. You will see many of the Blue Star markers around the area that were placed by a local garden club too. Also, for your enjoyment, the Ridgecrest Branch of the Kern County Library has been decorated for Christmas for the past 45 years by Desert Planters.

Education has been an important service to the community, and garden clubs have given scholarships to young students and annually supported the Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program. The clubs have also sponsored and co-hosted workshops for xeriscape and water-wise gardening. The use of native plants has been promoted and encouraged with an annual plant show and festival hosted by the Oasis Garden Club.

Environmental issues including safe insecticides and protection of bees have been addressed as well as nutritional requirements of plants and new composting techniques. Support has also been given to “Junior Gardeners” in kindergarten and elementary schools in the area.

Through the years the clubs have had lots of fun and made lasting friendships, enjoying many treks out of town to special public gardens and other interesting places. Did you notice the fun and laughter always surrounding the garden club table at the Farmers’ Market? That was a special time in our community and lots of hard work was involved.

The Desert Planters are celebrating their fiftieth year and congratulations are in order!

Story First Published: 2012-11-21