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A Garden Club Insider

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“My people” will nod their heads in agreement hearing this personal reveal: I don’t just dip my toes into something new, I immerse myself completely. Joining the Stockton Garden Club last fall was no exception.

Laura Fortune, my good friend, neighbor and the club’s president, shared some struggles she was encountering in reviving this 96-year-old garden club, together with exciting plans she was hoping to implement. After hearing the club’s mission statement to promote gardening, floral design, civic beautification, environmental responsibility and the exchange of information and ideas, I was on board. So, I joined and months later took on the challenges of vice president and speaker coordinator.

As it happened with many other clubs, COVID’s no-congregating rules took their toll, especially ours, with a majority of members over 70, many lacking technological know-how. That was about to change! Our club membership has grown by over 15 in just a few months.

I discovered we are not a stand-alone club but are a 501(c)(3) non-profit under an umbrella of parent garden clubs that guide, assist, offer resources, symposiums and a myriad of opportunities. We are members of the Valley Lode District, the California Garden Clubs, Inc., and the National Garden Clubs, Inc., over 165,000 members strong.

Again, I immediately enrolled in the Landscape Design Consultant school. Other schools include Environmental Studies, Flower Shows, International Outreach and Gardening. Not only did I learn about creating beautiful and functional landscapes; I also learned about the critical impacts design has on water resources, habitats and food for birds, butterflies and bugs.

I’d always learned gardening working side by side with my husband, an experienced gardener. By joining the garden club, streams of new information opened on gardening techniques, native plants, watering techniques, soil treatment and more. Did you know plants absorb CO2 and soil stores it? Have you heard of no-till gardening? Or interesting facts, such as only 4 percent of all bees actually make honey; solitary bees build nests in the soil or hollow plant stems; bees can’t see red; honey bees have five eyes. Most butterflies live only two weeks and need to feed and lay eggs on specific native plants; pests can control bad pests. I learned why you should leave your leaves on your flower beds; there are 325 to 340 species of hummingbirds with only 15 types in the United States; and a flock of hummingbirds is called a bouquet!

Isn’t it fascinating that when we learn something new, we realize we’ve just scratched the surface?

I’ve always believed if you want to enjoy life, take chances, don’t hold onto old ways, be open to learning new things, listen to others share their passion, share yours, dig deeper into an interesting topic, show up, volunteer, and help each other. Joining a local garden club offers all those opportunities and more.

Our club hosts knowledgeable speakers on a variety of topics at our monthly meetings and offers tours of nurseries, botanical gardens and other members’ gardens. We are implementing more hands-on activities, including civic involvement, and we’re currently creating a nationally recognized habitat garden with native plant species, drawing numerous pollinators and providing bird sanctuaries. We’re active in the Penny Pines California Reforestation program and have installed three Blue Star markers as a tribute to those who have served in the Armed Forces.

We’re encouraging members to bring a friend because, like me, many hesitate to come into a new situation unless they know someone there.

Wander through your garden and ask yourself, “What creative solutions, passions and knowledge can I share?” Then come share them at our next meeting. You already know someone there!

To learn more about Stockton Garden Club, contact Laura Fortune, 209 244-0460, and visit

Written by: Carol Burns

Carol Burns, a retired administrator, florist and small business owner, is learning to self-care more. She cherishes hugs and belly laughs from her five grandchildren, gardening with her husband, is an obsessive list maker, prefers days at home to traveling, still dreams of restoring an old stone cottage on the banks of a mountain river, loves doing research and is eager to learn how to paint with watercolors.