Bringing The City To Life

The goal of the Columbia Garden Club can be summed up into one simple phrase: to make Columbia a better, brighter place. The club, organized in 1919, has been working for 95 years to beautify the community and advance the gardening and landscaping knowledge of its members and the public. As part of the Federated Garden Clubs of Missouri Inc. and National Garden Clubs Inc., Columbia Garden Club members participate in programs on the district, state and national level.

Funded through annual member dues and plant sale revenues, the Columbia Garden Club is responsible for a number of garden projects and events around town —such as an annual plant sale and garden bazaar. Specific endeavors may vary from year to year, but maintaining the same level of success is key.

“We just try to figure out what fits, and how much manpower we’re going to need,” club president Alice Havard says.

The club takes on many different enterprises ranging from four themed gardens at MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital, to offering an annual scholarship to a University of Missouri student who is working toward a plant-related degree. The Columbia Garden Club is also responsible for the Boone County Historical Society Garden, planted in 2009 at the Boone County Museum and Galleries when the club celebrated its 90th birthday.

Despite the bouquet of benefits, keeping up with multiple projects isn’t always a bed of roses.

“Sometimes it gets really difficult to put in a garden for an organization and then go back and maintain it,” Havard says. The organizations that house the gardens work with the club’s dedicated members to ensure that the flowers and landscaping continue to look as vibrant and fresh as when they are first planted.

The club recently collaborated with Heart of Missouri Master Gardeners and Grow Well Missouri to staff Seeds for Change, a program that will provide plants, seeds and information to clients of The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. The food bank will set up a “garden center” where volunteers will give out free seeds and plants, and help educate interested clients on how to grow their own vegetables through either in-ground or container gardening. “We just want to do what we can to help,” Havard says.

The club welcomes both men and women into the organization. Club dues are $20, which covers local, district, state and national fees. Local club members can take advantage of educational programs in disciplines such as flower-show judging, landscape design and garden studies. Monthly programs or tours offer advice and knowledge from local experts; a yearly tour of member gardens is another perk.

To add some healthy competition, the Columbia Garden Club also picks a “Yard of the Month.” From May through September the club recognizes one or two yards within Columbia city limits for their superior workmanship and beauty each month.

Through plantings, projects, fundraisers and events, the Columbia Garden Club is invested in its mission: keeping Columbia looking its best.

For more information about how to join the Columbia Garden Club, contact membership chair Rita Gerke at 573-474-3393 or gerker@missouri.edu. Visit online at www.columbiagardenclub.org.

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