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home : good life : good life November 20, 2014

8/3/2013 7:44:00 AM
Happy Gardeners still together after 62 years
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Brenda Harrison
Editor of The News Journal


By BRENDA HARRISON Editor of The News Journal Florence, S.C.

The Gay Gardeners are still blooming after 62 years. The local garden club members continue to meet for lunch on a monthly basis. The club was “planted” in 1951, sponsored by Mrs. D.W. Tyler. The first meeting was held in her home on W. Pine Street. “We were a group of young mothers at the time,” recalls Margaret Hoffmeyer, one of the charter members. “We met in each other’s homes for lunch and had guest speakers.” As they were organizing, the group considered three names for their club – Sisters of the Sod, Happy Hoers and the Gay Gardners, remembered Betty Jean Charles, also a charter member. At that time, the name meant happy gardners, she said with a chuckle. Club members selected the violet as their flower and the colors  lavender and white. Their theme is: “To be enlightened while being entertained.” For years, the club hosted Christmas house tours with club members decorating the houses. They participated in garden club council projects, such as making flower arrangements to be judged at the county fair and they brought back many blue ribbons for their efforts. Jean Waters remembers one of the flower arrangements she and Betty Jean Charles entered in the garden club council’s competition. “The theme was Lil’ Abner, so we arranged wildflowers that we found in the woods in one of my husband’s old Army boots,” said Mrs. Waters. “But we had trouble with it and ended up calling Electa Tyler to help us. We won the Blue Ribbon,” she added. Mrs. Charles remembers another arrangement that she and Jo Miller created for the competition at the fair. They scooped out a pumpkin and used it as the container for their arrangement, only to find out that it was against the rules because it attracted bugs. “We worked so hard and it was disappointing to be disqualified,” she remembered. The club also participated in community beautification projects over the years, including plantings at the Florence Museum. They no longer conduct meetings with speakers or participate in projects, but they do meet monthly for lunch. “We have evolved into a social club,” laughed Mary Alice Busch, who joined shortly after the club was formed. Members have become lifelong friends, she added. The club continues to support community organizations, such as the House of Hope of the Pee Dee and the Manna House. Members over the past 62 years have included Leila Rainwater, current president; Margaret Baroody, Jo Miller, a past president; Betty Jean Charles, Mary Alice Busch, Electa Tyler, Jean Waters, Allene Griffin,  Margaret Hoffmeyer, Patsy Brown, Nell Quarles, Ann Nettles, Libby Lingle, Johnnie Rodrique, Rosalyn Davis, Joyce Hyman, Peggy Lentz, Lil Cash, Shepard Smith, Susan Dusenbury,  Katherine O’Hara, Adele Kassab and Margaret Hall. Deceased members include Elsie Bridges,  Ann Stackhouse, Barbara Rainwater, Ramona Baroody, Lib Griffin,  Anita Whisenhunt, Sarah Clemmons, Mary Glen Jeter and Irene Summerford.

For years, the club hosted Christmas house tours with club members decorating the houses. They participated in garden club council projects, such as making flower arrangements to be judged at the county fair and they brought back many blue ribbons for their efforts. Jean Waters remembers one of the flower arrangements she and Betty Jean Charles entered in the garden club council’s competition. “The theme was Lil’ Abner, so we arranged wildflowers that we found in the woods in one of my husband’s old Army boots,” said Mrs. Waters. “But we had trouble with it and ended up calling Electa Tyler to help us. We won the Blue Ribbon,” she added. Mrs. Charles remembers another arrangement that she and Jo Miller created for the competition at the fair. They scooped out a pumpkin and used it as the container for their arrangement, only to find out that it was against the rules because it attracted bugs. “We worked so hard and it was disappointing to be disqualified,” she remembered. The club also participated in community beautification projects over the years, including plantings at the Florence Museum. They no longer conduct meetings with speakers or participate in projects, but they do meet monthly for lunch. “We have evolved into a social club,” laughed Mary Alice Busch, who joined shortly after the club was formed. Members have become lifelong friends, she added. The club continues to support community organizations, such as the House of Hope of the Pee Dee and the Manna House. Members over the past 62 years have included Leila Rainwater, current president; Margaret Baroody, Jo Miller, a past president; Betty Jean Charles, Mary Alice Busch, Electa Tyler, Jean Waters, Allene Griffin,  Margaret Hoffmeyer, Patsy Brown, Nell Quarles, Ann Nettles, Libby Lingle, Johnnie Rodrique, Rosalyn Davis, Joyce Hyman, Peggy Lentz, Lil Cash, Shepard Smith, Susan Dusenbury,  Katherine O’Hara, Adele Kassab and Margaret Hall. Deceased members include Elsie Bridges,  Ann Stackhouse, Barbara Rainwater, Ramona Baroody, Lib Griffin,  Anita Whisenhunt, Sarah Clemmons, Mary Glen Jeter and Irene Summerford.












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