From its very first meeting, the Sooke Garden Club has been a constant source of information, inspiration, plants and socializing around all things horticultural. This month’s meeting will be a departure: a celebratory high tea on Sunday, Sept. 25, to honour those who shaped and nurtured the organization in its early days and to say, ‘Thank you. Job well done!’
The club held its inaugural meeting on Sept. 20, 1971, with 17 members, but by the end of decade that number had grown to 115. Annual dues were $1 per person for the first 10 years. It was also during this time that the ‘bones’ of the club took shape: monthly meetings, speakers with special expertise, workshops, plant sales, parlour shows, door prizes and, of course, homebaked goodies to accompany tea/coffee time at meetings.
In 1981, annual dues soared to $2 per person, but membership continued to grow. The decade saw several key additions to the club’s repertoire of routine activities. ‘Grow & Tell’ became part of regular meetings, offering members a ‘scheduled’ opportunity to ask questions or offer suggestions about gardening. Annual bus tours took members to such places as UBC Botanical Gardens, Fantasy Gardens in Richmond, and Minter Gardens in Chilliwack. Other firsts included: the ever-popular annual potato contest, the annual photo contest, and the annual Strawberry Tea (June), Fancy Desserts Party (July) and Pie Auction (August). In addition, a constitution was drawn up, a library was started, and a logo was designed.
In terms of goals and structure, not a great deal has changed for the club in the past 20 years. Members still come together monthly to learn, share and enjoy the benefits and camaraderie that come from a collective interest in gardening. They still give to the community – plants, knowledge, and labour. They still strive to grow beautiful ornamentals and delicious edibles – for themselves and to display at the parlour shows. Granted, annual dues have gone up (still a bargain at $15), and activities have been added, eliminated or altered in response to changing times. But the foundation that was laid in the early years remains strong and continues to serve both the members and the community well.
The September meeting and 40th anniversary celebration of the Sooke Garden Club takes place on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2–4 p.m., at Holy Trinity Church on Murray Road.
In addition to high tea, the meeting will feature a parlour show and special displays offering a look back over the club’s four decades.
If you were once an active member of the club, have not yet been contacted, and would like to share tea and memories on this noteworthy occasion, please phone Pam Day at 250-642-7342.