WORTHINGTON - For nearly 80 years, members of the Worthington Garden Club have gathered together to share what one might call horticultural happiness.
On Sept. 11, 1939, the club was officially founded by six women - Ida Langseth, Emma Langseth, Mrs. J.V. Westerland, Mrs. Paul Millard, Mrs. F.C. Beatty and Mrs. Otto Mahlberg. It still remains strong today, with 23 regular members and six honorary members.
Terry Schissel is one of those regular members. She first joined the club in 1992.
“I was just invited, probably through Jennifer Eaton,” Schissel recalled. “It just went from there. I’m originally from England, so I had the garden thing in me - my mom was a gardener and my sisters were all gardeners. But I had a lot to learn because everyone that I knew when I joined had a lot of information and I thought, ‘wow.’”
The club meets at 1:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the Worthington Hy-Vee meeting room. Each meeting has a program lead by the one of the club’s members, and responsibilities for those programs rotate.
The club does far more than get together once a month, however.
“We have 12 committtees in our club,” noted Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, a three-year member of the club and its current president. Among the committees are yearbook (the club assembles an annual book each year), cheer (flowers for funeral services, among other occasions), county fair, Awards of Merit, Club Tour, plant sale and nominating. The club also has committees for each of the community gardens it tends (Chautauqua Park, Freedom Shore Park and Veterans Memorial, Pioneer Village’s Ludlow House and the Center for Active Living are among specific locations) as well as a volunteer group that consults with the Nobles County Library about the planters in front of the facility.
The county fair is a much-anticipated activity for the club.
“For the fashion review, we give flowers to the court of honor,” said Carol Christopherson, a member of the club since 1998. “We have an adult booth for flowers, and we also have a junior division.”
“Starting two years ago, if people don’t want to be in a competition … they can just share something special they want to display with no rules or requirements at all,” added Marcy LaVelle, who joined the club in 2010. “It’s kind of a free-for-all flower show.”
The Worthington Garden Club participates in an annual Spring Fling event that usually takes place each April. Worthington is one of six different District 4 clubs in the event, and was the host this year. Then, each June comes the District 4 Prairie Gardeners Convention; the 2019 64th annual gathering is June 11 in Springfield. Both events are open to all.
The garden club also just hosted a plant sale at Schissel’s home; that event is coordinated annually.
“We also contribute to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and we have contributed horticulture books to the Nobles County LIbrary,” Hurlbut Vosburgh added. “Every year we do a club tour with our members, and it’s turned out to be a really good thing for the club. … We can look at the gardens and talk about what everyone’s growing. For me, it’s been very educational.”
Members of the garden club can also be contacted for gardening tips. One basic tip members share is being aware of the zone they live in as southwest Minnesotans (it’s Zone 4), a designation made for the hardiness of particular plants in a given area. It’s also helpful to know, for example, if a plant is more “sun-loving” or may need more shade.
There’s plenty of expertise on such matters to be found from garden club members. Among other multi-decade club participants are Rita Scheffler (joined in 1978), Jan Rickers (1986) and Phyllis Doeden (originally joined in 1965).
While Hurlbut Vosburgh currently serves as president, Judy Elsing is vice president and Christopherson is the longtime secretary-treasurer. Another member, Nancy Hofstee, is president of the District 4 Horticultural Society, and LaVelle is its vice president.
All are welcome to attend the monthly club meetings and consider subsequent club involvement.
“I have learned more in the last three years than I had in my entire life,” Hurlbut Vosburgh said of her membership. “People that have lived here a long time, they have a really good sense of what grows here.”