Garden Clubs

Volunteers – Branford Garden Club

     The breeze, the trees, the honeybees

             All volunteers!

               Juliet Carinreap 

   Have you looked around Branford lately? What a beautiful town! As beautiful as Branford is, there are volunteers who work tirelessly to make it even better. They are the members of the Branford Garden Club, more than one hundred strong. Being a member of the Branford Garden Club isn’t “a bed of roses.” Members are encouraged and expected to volunteer on committees dedicated to community service.

   The award-winning Branford Garden Club is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.  You will soon notice garden club volunteers sporting their new aprons, working on beautification projects around town. A half-mile stretch of downtown Main Street is graced with hanging baskets, sponsored by local businesses and individuals. Club members plant and care for the baskets during the summer, and decorate them with greens in early December. “Project Daffodil” continues throughout town, and members are always looking for new locations. The colonial garden at the historic Harrison House is planted and maintained with garden club assistance.  The gardens on the Green near the flagpole and the Academy are regularly tended, as well as the welcome-to-town corner of Kirkham and Main. The Rosenthal Gardens are a “work almost in progress” as the affordable housing construction project nears completion. The entire garden, with its specimen trees, shrubs, pools and flower gardens, will be wheelchair accessible and open to the public. At the Community Center a planter and flower arrangements are evidence of garden club members’ attention. Members of the club arrange May baskets for distribution to the guests at Orchard House, our regional adult day care center. Other special flower arrangements are designed for community events and holidays.

   The Branford Garden Club works in close cooperation with the Branford Green Committee. A plum tree was recently planted near the Town Hall to commemorate the club’s 80th anniversary. Members are always on hand at their booth at the Branford Festival, giving information and advice. This year they will be offering copies of their newly published “Living Green” booklets, giving “gentle” and practical solutions for the home and garden. Nancy Sutton, co-chair of the Conservation Committee says, “It was lots of fun, putting all the bits and pieces together.”  Dedicated to finding ways to protect our environment, the booklet advises: “The best way to have an impact on our environment is to have as little impact as possible.”

    Garden Club members are involved with youth activities in the community with the purpose of sharing and developing an appreciation of plants, conservation and wildlife. Just before Mother’s Day, members scour their cupboards and local thrift shops for coffee mugs. They donate flowers from their own gardens and from generous neighbors and help the children at the Early Learning Center arrange bouquets for their moms.  A small committee has been formed to help in the newly refurbished greenhouse at Walsh Intermediate School. The students in Robin Axtell’s Fifth Grade class hope to grow plants to beautify the school grounds. Each year the Branford Garden Club encourages students at the middle school to express their appreciation for the world of nature in poetry. Many of the children’s poems are featured in the club’s annual handbook. Robert Miller, a Fifth Grader at Walsh Intermediate School, summed up the feelings of many hard-working gardeners when he began his poem this way:

My favorite place in the world to be

                                      Is lying on the grass underneath

                                                     My big tree. 

   Continuing celebrations of the Branford Garden Club’s anniversary include two special events. Watch for information about a Garden Party at the Harrison House, with tentative dates of July 26 or August 23rd. The herb and flower gardens will be featured, along with colonial refreshments served by folks in colonial costumes. This is a joint project of the Garden Club and the Branford Historical Society. Any funds raised will be used to purchase signs, plants or outdoor furniture for the Harrison House. On September 21st a cocktail reception at the Owenego Inn will feature displays of all of the club’s contributions to the town. There will also be a silent auction. Earlier on the same day, in conjunction with the Blackstone Library’s book sale on the Green, the evening committee of the Garden Club will hold a sale of plants and produce from members’ gardens. Look for the prize winning dahlias!

   The pleasure of even the most beautiful garden or streetscape can be spoiled by the presence of unsightly litter. Each year, near the date of the original Earth Day in April, the members of the Branford Land Trust and the Branford River Project rally our citizens for a Spring Clean-Up event. Groups and individuals gather on the Green and fan out through town and along the river to collect litter which the wind (and some careless person) has distributed. The dumpster on the Green is filled with an amazing variety of “stuff.” It is not necessary to wait until the end of April each year to participate in this activity. Carry a litter bag as you walk. Become a litter volunteer!

 Contact Information:

The Branford Garden Club, Inc.

P.O. Box 966, Branford, CT, 06405

Membership Applications:

Margaret Murphy  488-2089  or  rmargaret18@snet.net

 


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