Every time Mary Gridley walks out of the house and works on her garden, she says she’s doing her part to make the world a better place.
“I think there’s a certain grace about gardening, and I think that people who garden raise the beauty in the world, not only for ourselves but for our neighbors,” said Gridley, a past president and member of the Gardeners’ Workshop, celebrating its 70th year with a luncheon at the Mohawk Golf Club at 11:30 a.m. Friday
“People walk by and take notice, and sometimes I think flowers are the little faces of angels. They are so beautiful in their purity.”
Created originally in post-World War II America as a Junior League program, the Schenectady group soon became aligned with the Federated Garden Clubs of New York State, which had been in existence for two decades before the war broke out.
They are no longer affiliated with any national group, said long-time member Christine Lee, currently serving as co-president with Anne Yunick, and while they are all serious gardeners, they welcome newcomers and novices as much as a beautiful spring day.
“Our oldest member is 93, many of us are in our 70s, and we do have a few that are even younger,” said Lee. “I haven’t done any serious gardening myself in years, but we love going to someone’s house and hearing a presentation about gardening. We are an enthusiastic group, and we keep going because it’s always fun.”
Lee said that most of the 25 or so members are from Scotia, Glenville, Rotterdam, Burnt Hills, Ballston Lake and Saratoga Springs. Monthly meetings are held at a member’s house or an area establishment related to gardening (in November they met at Felthousen’s Florist and Greenhouses on Van Antwerp Road in Niskayuna), and presentations are sometimes made by club members or outside experts.
The club was at its height back in the 1970s when Helen George, named a Schenectady patroon by Mayor Karen Johnson in 1987, was at the helm.
“We had a large group of women when Helen was involved, and it’s still a very fun group of people that are interested in gardening,” said Barbara Piper, a member since the early 1970s.
“We might have a cooking exchange, a discussion on pruning, some kind of speaker or presentation, and sometimes we have a seasonal project. Some of us don’t actually work that hard in our yards anymore, but it’s a nice group of ladies and we still enjoy getting together and talking about gardening.”
Gridley is one of those who remain avid gardeners.
“The challenge of the physical work is good for our minds and our bodies, and for me it’s still a joy to be able to garden,” she said.
“And it’s a joy to share that joy with others. Just cultivating the earth that we’re blessed to be standing on is good enough for me.”
Perfection no object
You don’t have to be good at gardening to enjoy it, says Gridley.
“I don’t believe that things have to be perfect to be beautiful,” she said. “My lawn is not a golf course. I think there’s a beauty in the way a lawn grows naturally. There are people who win awards at garden shows and in flower clubs, and that’s fine, but I do it because it makes me happy, and happiness is doing it in your own fashion.”
Membership in the Gardeners’ Workshop costs $15 a year.
“That pays for some of the visiting speakers we have, and occasionally we’ll make donations,” said Lee. “We might donate to the Central Park Rose Garden or the Landis Arboretum. We don’t give a lot of money, but we pick and choose and help out where we can.”
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected].
Categories: Life and Arts