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Garden Art

Local garden clubs have long tradition, but are changing

May 25, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald
Kathy Eglin is co-president of the Kingsboro Garden Club, but there was a time when she said she might not have been asked to be a member.

“At one time, the garden clubs were very exclusive white-gloves-and-heels meetings of the upper crust,” Eglin said. “With social changes over the years, it is no longer a wealthy person’s club.”

Although flower arranging and garden designing can be competitive, Eglin said the contemporary garden clubs coordinate, cooperate with each other and tend to be much more accepting.

“We are actively looking for more members,” Eglin said.

She said club members had welcomed three new people at their meeting earlier in the week and have 28 of 35 possible according to their club rules.

Co-President Agnes Rodd said the club is very active. She said the club’s most visible display project is at the Fonda Fair. She said a large percentage of the 64,000 annual visitors through the gate go through the club’s flower show.

She said one function of the club is providing educational information to the public. She said members serve as hostesses at the fair to explain the displays and answer questions.

“We do this flower show in conjunction with the Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club,” Eglin said.

The combined efforts of the Kingsboro and Canajoharie-Fort Plain clubs have not gone unnoticed at the state level, Eglin said.

“We took a first-place state prize for a flower show in a public place,” Rodd said.

The club is sponsoring a contest with cash prizes for the Johnstown 250th anniversary celebration. A member of the Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club — Geri Raymond — will serve as one of the judges.

“Each [city] ward will have prizes awarded and a grand prize of $200 will be awarded as well,” Eglin said.

She said she wished to thank Bruce Becker for donating prize money for the event.

Each of the city wards will have first-, second- and third-place prizes of $100, $50 and $25. The best night-time display will receive a $100 prize.

“Applications need to be made by June 10,” Eglin said. “Judging will be July 8 with prizes announced and awarded at the bandshell park the evening of July 11 along with an ice cream social.”

Raymond is vice president of the Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club and will help judge the displays in Johnstown as part of the cooperative efforts between garden clubs. Eglin said all 13 judges for the Johnstown 250th contest are from out of the area.

“I’ve been a member of the [Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden] club for 20 years,” Raymond said.

Both clubs have a long history, with the Kingsboro club looking back 73 years and the Canajoharie-Fort Plain club in existence “since the 1930s,” according to Raymond.

“Back then, it was called the Home and Garden Club,” Raymond said.

She said their club met every month except January on the first Thursday of the month and averaged 40 members.

The newest local club in the area is the Sacandaga Garden Club which started in 1972. President Michelle Acquaro said her group have 28 members and meet in the Bradt Municipal Building the first Thursday of the month at 1 p.m. unless they have a workshop, which starts at 10 a.m.

Among that club’s projects are making Christmas wreaths for municipal buildings. Members don’t meet July and August.

“We do seasonal projects for shut-ins, special events, provide tray-baskets for [Mountain Valley] Hospice and are open to new members,” Acquaro said.

She said they will have a display at the Northville Library the first week of June to help publicize their club.

Two of the projects for the Kingsboro Garden Club include the herb gardens at Sir William Johnson Hall Historic Site in Johnstown and the Veterans Memorial on North Kingsboro Avenue in Gloversville. Members were working at the Johnson Hall site Friday, getting it ready for expected visitors over the Memorial Day weekend.

Rodd said she had done a special “Three Sisters” educational display which won a state prize on historic corn, beans and squash. She said she used “historic” seeds that took two years to grow. She worked closely with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Fulton & Montgomery Counties on the project.

“Part of the process for state contests is putting together ‘books of evidence’ documenting the project,” Rodd said.

Eglin said rules for displays include how high and wide an arrangement can be by number of inches. She said they can be quite strict and competitive. She said some of the newer directions for the club include environmental awareness projects such as the “Woodsy Owl” poster contest for children it is sponsoring that can go on to the national level.

Rodd said the club places flower arrangements monthly at both Johnstown and Gloversville libraries, has made wreaths for First Night celebrations in the past and has placed arrangements with Amsterdam Memorial Hospital among other places.

For more information call Eglin at 883-3041 or Yvonne Major at 762-1705. Major said applications for the flower contest are available at Johnstown City Hall and many businesses on Main Street in Johnstown.

Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at

Article Photos

From left, Kingsboro Garden Club co-President Agnes Rodd, and members Janice Winney, Marge McGuire and Pat Lanois work at a flower garden at the Sir William Johnson Historic Site in Johnstown Friday.



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