With coffees in hand, donut sugar around their lips and smiles on their faces, nearly 75 members of garden clubs from around the region toured Harbor Way Gardens in Wrightsville Beach on Wednesday morning. The members of the Harbor Island Garden Club were showing the visiting ladies the crown jewel of their efforts as the club hosted the district meeting, inviting members of 17 nearby garden clubs, from Ocean Isle to New Bern.
“It’s a big deal. We’ve been working on this for months,” said Elise Running, chairman of the Harbor Way Gardens and past president of the Harbor Island Garden Club. She said the $20,000 fountain the club installed in the garden was the highlight for many visitors, though a few were seen playing on the teeter-totter.
It is the first time the local garden club has hosted the District 11 fall meeting, which started with a tour of Harbor Way Gardens, complete with refreshments, and continued with a meeting and luncheon at the Surf Club.
Jenene Smith, first vice president of District 11 and past president of the Cape Fear Garden Club, marveled at the garden, which is replete with species-specific plants that attract different butterflies, birds and bees.
“This beauty is a feast for your eyes,” Smith said of the garden located in the Wrightsville Beach municipal complex near town hall. “It’s an oasis in the middle of the town.”
At the district meeting, the garden club members heard from Gail Hill, the president of the Garden Club of North Carolina, as well as the presidents of each club in the district. As many as 75 people were expected to attend the meeting, though members from garden clubs in Whiteville and Goldsboro had to cancel due to flooding from Hurricane Matthew.
Tula Satterfield, president of the Emerald Isle Garden Club, said she would use the meeting to update members on the Blue Star Memorial the club maintained on state highway 58, as well as the Paint It Pink campaign, which utilized pink planter pots to raise breast cancer awareness.
The meeting also welcomed members from the district’s newest club: The Loblolly Garden Club, which held its first-ever meeting in September at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 16 N. 16th St. in Wilmington.
“These meeting are just fun, there’s so much you can learn,” said Marie Ashworth, president of the Loblolly Garden Club.
One member of that club, Caroline Pole, said she joined the newly formed club to help improve her not-quite-green thumb.
“I need to learn more about how and when to plant. I work myself to death in the garden, and it still doesn’t seem to do well,” Pole said. “I’m also looking forward to learning more about ways to make flower arrangements.”
In the wake of last weekend’s storms, Harbor Island Garden Club members had to work this week to make the garden presentable, which included removing three cherry laurel trees. The storm also damaged the pink ribbons the club hangs from a tree as a memorial for survivors and those who died of breast cancer, as the winds and rain caused the ribbons to roll up.
However, club member Sheila McCuiston brought a steam iron out to the park and individually ironed each one back into straightness. While doing so, a young girl, who lost her eye to cancer, asked if she could also be included on the ribbons. McCuiston accommodated the request and added one more survivor ribbon to the tree.