By Jan Engoren
The Boca Raton Garden Club turns 70 on Feb. 4. To commemorate, the club, headquartered at 4281 NW Third Ave., will celebrate its history of gardening, horticulture, conservation and floral design with a community celebration.
The public is invited to join the family friendly festivities, including garden tours, free seeds and plants, informational exhibits, games for children and adults, and raffles and prizes, along with a proclamation from Boca Raton Mayor Scott Singer.
With the theme of “70 Years Planting Seeds in Boca,” the club aims to stimulate knowledge of gardens among amateurs and to encourage civic beautification, maintain Florida’s natural beauty and further garden club programs.
“We’re very excited about our anniversary and celebrating it with the community,” says President Marie Young, 72. “We’re having a big bash and we want everyone to come, learn something new and have some fun.”
Young says that the club was established in 1953 “with the purpose of beautifying our town parks and improving the city’s landscapes, and we’re proud to carry on the legacy.”
The club boasts 150 current members. Young joined in 2012, after she retired from a 40-year career as a teacher at both Advent Lutheran School and St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in Boca Raton.
Young attended an event at the club’s Holiday House. The craft, baked goods and plant sale — where people created and sold angel figures made from palm fronds — prompted her to think: “I’d like to be a part of this.”
The club cultivates 50 native orchid plants growing in trees, copperleaf hedges, crinum lilies, bromeliads, amaryllis, the tropical red passion vine, white alba begonia and Dutchman’s pipe vine, among its rose and butterfly gardens.
A member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs District X, the Boca Raton club participates in the Million Orchid Project created by the American Orchid Society and the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Miami.
The club hosts a junior gardening program at Whispering Pines Elementary School in Boca Raton and a monthly garden therapy program at the FAU Memory and Wellness Center for Alzheimer’s patients. Funds raised from club events send students and counselors from Boca schools to Wekiva Youth Camp in Apopka each year with the purpose of instilling a love and respect for nature.
The club contributes to Boca Helping Hands and to Boy Scout merit badge projects. It partners with the city on conservation efforts and maintains the community garden.
Charlene Smith, 82, a former advertising and sales executive for a software company in Delray Beach, joined the Garden Club when she retired in 2012.
“My friends said, ‘now you have no excuse,’” jokes Smith, who is now head of the club’s publicity committee.
“I love every minute of it,” she says. “I made friends and learned to create flower arrangements, which I love to give to friends or keep in the house.”
Occasionally, she will bring her husband, Clarence Smith, 85, along to an event such as the “Paint & Pour” social in May, where members created paintings while sipping wine.
“Besides creating floral decorations, learning about native plants and visiting other gardens, the club is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. There’s a lot of camaraderie,” says Smith. “We look forward to seeing everyone on Feb. 4.”
If You Go
What: Boca Raton Garden Club 70th anniversary
When: 10 a.m-2 p.m. Feb. 4
Where: 4281 NW Third Ave.Info: 561-395-9376 or www.bocaratongardenclub.org.
Club meeting dates
• The Boca Raton Garden Club will hold its general meeting at 1 p.m. Feb. 7 in the BRGC clubhouse, 4281 NW Third Ave. Noted floral designer Susie Slater will present a program on “Traditional and Contemporary Spring Floral Designs.” This program is free and open to the public.
• Visitors are welcome to attend all general monthly meetings at no charge. People wishing to join must attend two club events before they are eligible. These events can be general meetings or any community event or fundraiser. Dues are $50 a year in addition to a one-time fee of $12 that includes registration and a magnetic name badge.
• For more info, call 561-395-9376 or visit www.bocaratongardenclub.org.