By Sydney Holets
As the snow begins to melt and the spring sun peeks out of the gray clouds, the grass isn’t the only thing that’s growing. The Rochester Garden and Flower Club (RG&FC) is already preparing for the spring and summer season and the events that come with it. For over 80 years, RG&FC has worked on educating and providing the surrounding community with the care, interest, and beauty of gardening. Today, current club president Jean Meyer and past president Rita Buegler keep this mission while continuing to expand the work of the club into the city.
In the past few years, the club has taken on new projects in addition to their annual ones. “We’ve recently completed a garden project at the History Center,” says Meyer. The garden was neglected, and a team of club members renovated it from scratch by clearing the area, increasing the border, planting, and mulching.
The club was named 2014 MSHS Garden Club of the Year for the many activities done in the community. The club also planted a beautiful garden display at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial, which led to the club being recognized for the 2015 MSHS Best Community Garden Award. The club’s active work in Rochester is seen through their regular events of hosting a flower show and workshop at the Olmsted County Fair and decorating a room at the historic Mayowood mansion during the holiday season. “We try to make projects educational, but fun,” says Meyer.
RG&FC’s biggest projects are yet to come this year: the Plant Sale and the Garden Tours. The Annual Plant Sale is coming up on May 17-18 and is their biggest fundraiser. The sale is open to the public, and the money raised goes toward their annual projects and scholarship funds for the students in the Horticulture Department at Rochester Community and Technical College.
The Annual Garden Tour takes place July 20 this year and raises money to support the annual projects. People also get the opportunity to visit Rochester’s beautiful private gardens. The garden tourists begin at one location and are given a map so they may view each of the gardens at their own pace. “The Garden Tour has gotten to be a very well-oiled machine,” says Meyer.
These events would not be to the point they are today without the teamwork of the club. There are around 150 current members, but the doors are always open for more. “We’re a pretty vibrant group,” says Buegler. “Everybody has a lot to say and the interests of the group are so far reaching. It isn’t just about flowers, but we also get into trees, shrubs, and herbs. Whatever your interest, there’s something for you.”
“We always need new blood to replace those who can’t do it anymore. We want to stay vibrant,” Meyer adds.
The membership process is a very simple one. There is a membership form on RG&FC’s website that needs to be filled out and sent with the yearly membership fee of $15 attached. The club meets every third Thursday of the month at the Heintz Center on Rochester Community and Technical College’s campus at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public, so the club encourages community members to come learn about gardening and chat with club members.