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Sep 13, 2022

Catching Up with the Shrewsbury Garden Club

By Lori Draz

Despite taking a summer break to enjoy some vacation time, the dedicated gardeners of the Shrewsbury Garden Club (SGC) stayed busy, tending to their plants and planning events for the upcoming 2022-23 season.

Rachel Weston of the SGC shared, “Summer slipped by like a butterfly on the breeze for our members. In June, we gathered to socialize and plan the summer’s work. The officers for the 2022 to 2024 terms were inducted at the meeting. The nominating committee of Robin Blair, Cindy Ramirez and Michele Sysyn held a very touching ceremony.”

Blair added, “We salute you for volunteering your time and your leadership. We look to you to make this a year filled with inspiration, unity and comradery as work in all aspects of gardening.”

Each officer was given a unique arrangement of flowers and herbs that were collected from member Nancy Schmaltz’s garden. The bouquets utilized the Victorian language of flower, which Ellen Preissler explained. Thyme represents happiness, strength and courage. Basil denotes protection. Lavender stands for purity, devotion and calmness while rosemary is known for remembrance, friendship and love. Finally, the roses symbolize beauty, happiness and fidelity.

The officers inducted were Co-Presidents Judy Bonanno and Weston; Treasurer Carey French and Co-Secretaries Emiliee Carton and Mary Phillips. 

“This club strives to come together in friendship to create something for the community to enjoy. Members teamed up each week, even on the hottest days of the summer, to do the necessary maintenance of the public garden areas maintained by the club. Even In the high heat of the summer, the gardens performed well. 

“At the Allen House, an herb garden and new germander (Teucrium chamaedrys) plants were added to the existing border,” Weston said. “These low-growing evergreens were often found in Colonial gardens and were part of the original garden design in 1974. The club has cared for those plantings since and is now focused on bolstering the hedge as the 50th anniversary of the garden approaches in 2024. Herb Garden Coordinator Ellen Preissler arranged for new plants to be grown specially for the club at Well Sweep Herb Farm in Port Murray. A new apothecary rose was also added the garden which features plants that are appropriate for the 18th century building and useful for medicinal or culinary purposes.”

Club members also planted a variety of new dwarf evergreen shrubs in the large planters flanking the entrance to Borough Hall. Some will grow tall, some will cascade over the edge, and all will offer varied foliage color and texture and serve as a backdrop for colorful seasonal annuals and winter greens. These changing designs are popular with many visitors to the building.  

The Heritage Rose Meditation Garden at Christ Church received much care this season, provided largely by SGC members Sue Berdahl, Blair, Terry Blake, Preissler and Nancy Stewart.

Weston continued, “We welcomed extra help from a community service beautification project at the new Faherty store located in The Grove in Shrewsbury where club Co-Secretary Emilee Carton serves as store manager. Support from area businesses, schools and groups is always appreciated.”

This month, a new season of programs begins and will run through June. Weston said, “The season’s theme, Digging Deeper, will have in-depth exploration of interesting topics and will strengthen community ties by deepening our partnerships and creating new ones with area groups and businesses.”

The club meets on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 pm. New members are welcome. Along with Shrewsbury residents, those who live elsewhere can participate. Members may attend club programs, workshops and trips and bring guests to club activities in addition to having access to state and national garden club resources. 

A fall fundraiser of amaryllis and daffodils will support the clubs’ efforts to beautify public gardens in Shrewsbury. Daffodils can be planted outdoors in fall and will bloom in spring. These deer-resistant bulbs will multiply over the years. Varieties offered include Baby Boomer, Pink Charm and Cheerfulness. Amaryllis bulbs can be planted indoors and enjoyed throughout the winter months. Amaryllis offerings include Christmas blooming varieties that flower four to six weeks after potting and bulbs that have a longer growing period. Colors range from red, white, pink, terra cotta and striped, and blooms are striking singles or ruffly doubles. The discerning gardener will find something for everyone on their holiday list and undoubtedly a few for their own windowsills. Prices range from $12 to $20 per bulb. Pre-order now through Monday, Oct. 3. Payment may be made by check or Venmo. Orders will be available for pickup in late October, just in time for planting and holiday gift-giving. 

Fundraiser order forms and more information on club programs and membership are available at and the Shrewsbury Garden Club Facebook page. Contact with questions.