Methven Garden Club – decades of growing

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By Mick Jensen

The roots of the Methven Garden Club stem back to a visit to another garden club’s show more than five decades ago.

The club celebrates its golden jubilee next month and past and present members are invited to the Methven Resort for a function on September 20 to mark the occasion.

Club foundation member Mary Stone said she and other gardeners had been impressed after they had visited a show run by the Rakaia Garden Club many years ago.

The show had planted the seed for the Methven club, which today had a paid up membership of 50, she said.

“There were a number of keen gardeners with a bit of time on their hands in Methven and the wider area at that time, most country girls or farmers’ wives, and we decided to form the club.”

Mrs Stone was the club’s first vice-president, while Anne Anderson was president.

Fellow foundation member Audrey Lilley, who is the club’s patron, said club members met monthly at the Mt Hutt Memorial Hall in the early days, before a shift to the hall at All Saints Church.

There had been monthly flower and vegetable competitions during the growing season, flower arranging demonstrations, floral art, and guest speakers in the winter.

Monthly trips around the district and beyond had increased as the club became less formalised and members had enjoyed overnight stays in Hanmer Springs, Dunedin, Akaroa and other locations, all with a gardening focus.

Club funds were bolstered at the annual plant and home baking sale day in September.

“We’ve always been a friendly, sociable bunch and we’ve been to some interesting places,” said Mrs Lilley.

Methven Garden Club members played a big hand in establishing the township’s Garden of Harmony project in 2004.

They also supplied skills and labour to help plant rhododendrons at Awa Awa Rata Reserve and have helped with other projects around Methven.

The jubilee gathering will include a social hour where members will look back at trophies, scrap books and photo albums, followed by a guess the plant competition and lunch.

A celebratory cake will be cut by foundation members.

A photograph from the early days.