Members of Spring Grove’s Youth Development teamed up with the Buds and Blossoms Garden Club in April of 2007 to plant the flower baskets that were along Main Street that year. (Bluff Country Newspaper Group file photo by Jan Lee Buxengard)
Members of Spring Grove’s Youth Development teamed up with the Buds and Blossoms Garden Club in April of 2007 to plant the flower baskets that were along Main Street that year. (Bluff Country Newspaper Group file photo by Jan Lee Buxengard)
Gardening is an art and for some people, it is a passion. Serving as a good steward of the soil can be a satisfying experience with rewards of bounty and beauty.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Spring Grove Buds and Blossoms Garden Club, and in celebration of this milestone, club members exhibited a float in the Syttende Mai parade.

Spring Grove Buds and Blossoms Garden Club was established April 24, 1962, during a meeting in Room 203 at the Spring Grove Public School.

Organizers and first acting officers were Doris Morken, Barbara Karpeles, Marian Goldberg and Joycelyn Rostad.

Other charter members include Marian Goldberg, Lela Helland, Ruth Larson, Melpha Quinnell, Gilma Onsgard, Minnie Ellingson, Lottie Bentley, Lois Flatin, Norma Bentley, Geraldine Selness and Louise Ostern.

The first officers were Doris Morken - president, Barbara Karpeles - vice president, Marian Goldberg - secretary and Lela Helland - treasurer.

The ladies selected the "rose" as their club flower and chose the theme "To Cultivate a Garden Is to Walk with God."

Sometime later, they adopted the conservation pledge: "I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully defend from waste the national resources of my country, its air, soils and minerals, its forest and wildlife."

The theme and pledge are recited by members at the close of each meeting.

That first year, monthly meetings were held at city hall with the exception of two that were held in the homes of Louise Ostern and Minnie Ellingson. Meetings opened with a prayer. Club dues were set at 25 cents per person when attending a meeting.

"A garden club from Houston helped us get going," Rostad recalled. "They also gave us ideas for projects to do in the community."

Though the club began with all females, membership was later opened to males as well. By 1978, club membership had grown to 47. In 1984, 10 club members, age 80 years old or older, were honored.

"Over the years we have had many educational programs, trips, garden tours, flower shows, plant exchanges and wonderful fellowship and developing long lasting friendships with many women and men," Rostad recalled.

Through the years, members of the Buds and Blossoms Garden Club have lived their lives to the club's theme that was established half a century ago, continuing to grow and bloom both spiritually and as stewards of the soil.

Young club grows quickly

Club meeting minutes show that in September, the members put on their first flower show, visited the Mum Gardens at Faribault in October and held a plant exchange at the December meeting.

By the second year, the club had increased to 30 members and most meetings were held in the Trinity Church parlors.

Throughout the year there were programs on the topic of house plants and their care; plantings, pests and control measures; arranging dried and fresh flowers; as well as visits to Mrs. Rogne's iris garden and a July trip to the Rose Gardens, the Arboretum and Como Park in St. Paul.

The group conducted a food sale to raise money to purchase redwood planters, which they filled with geraniums and placed at the then-new Tweeten Memorial Hospital. That first year they also sponsored the first community-wide Christmas lighting contest.

Community outreach important

In addition to the hospital project, during 1964, club members established new flowerbeds and planted three-dozen tulip bulbs on the Trinity Lutheran Church grounds.

Later on, they planted flowers at the Trinity Lutheran Cemetery and in the city of Spring Grove's welcome sign planters next to the highway.

The club got involved with community celebrations such as creating scarecrows and conducting cake walks and bake sales during Fall Foliage as well as making banners.

Since 1975, they constructed floats for Syttende Mai parades. For Spring Grove's Homecoming celebration in June 1967, the club decorated a float and gave Genora Rauk and Louise Ostern the honor of riding as "Mothers of the Century."

In 1987, a foundation of netting was constructed, and members made their club theme - the rose - by meticulously filling in the netting with newspaper cut in two-inch strips.

For the club's 25th anniversary in April 1987, the members celebrated by having a style show.

For the 2007 Homecoming float, their theme was "45 Years of Gardening" and members walked alongside handing out over 700 packets of seeds labeled "Compliments of the Garden Club."

To commemorate the 50th anniversary, a special float was constructed and participated in the 2012 Syttende Mai parade.

Educational programs at club meetings have covered a wide range of topics related to gardening and a wide variety of other topics of interest to members.

Individuals would present the material, or they invited the expertise of the University of Minnesota Extension Service, local florists and growers and others in their field.

Some meetings would be exchanged with garden clubs from other communities.

Garden trips well received

The group always looked forward to tours of members' gardens and others in the area and to gardening and pleasure trips outside the community.

Among the excursions the club members have taken include Chanhassen Theater in Minneapolis, the Gladiola Festival at St. Charles, La Crosse Floral Gardens, a ride on the La Crosse Queen on the Mississippi River, visiting Seed Savers at the Heritage Farm near Decorah and much more.

Other club activities have included a tasting fair of holiday recipes prior to the Christmas season, Christmas show and party, gift, plant and cookie exchanges. They have made donations to the Parochial School Library, given funds to the elementary teachers to purchase Christmas trees for their classrooms, donated decorated trees to the Festival of Trees event and much more.

Funds were raised from white elephant sales, by conducting bake and food sales and more. Financial assistance is received from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans and the Trinity Cemetery Association for tending the two flowerbeds at the church cemetery.

Starting in August 1963 and for more than 35 years to follow, the club held an annual flower show. A theme was chosen and exhibitors could enter arrangements in a wide variety of categories, which are judged and prizes awarded.

Hanging flower baskets started

Anyone traversing Spring Grove's Main Street throughout the summer has surely enjoyed the beautiful flower baskets hanging along Main Street.

The city of Spring Grove started this beautification project in 2002 with 34 baskets gracing the lampposts. The following year, the city purchased 38 more baskets to display.

Garden club secretary records are not available from 2004-2006, so it is unclear exactly when members of the garden club came on board, volunteering for this city beautification project.

In 2007, 18 club members as well as some students from Spring Grove Youth Development got together and planted 72 city baskets in just two hours.

In the years to follow, the project continued with financial donations from the city and local organizations. For a few years, to save on costs, seeds were saved and members started plants for the next year's baskets.

Garden club members, their husbands and volunteers watered the flowers every day except on days when it rained.

With club membership down to 14 in 2009, this project was getting to be a great deal of work for so few.

By 2011 with only nine members it was difficult to keep up with the cemetery beds and the club asked the cemetery committee for help throughout the summer.

The garden club decided it would not be doing the city baskets in 2012, but would continue with help from church youth to plant and care for the gardens at the cemetery.

Looking ahead

Life is busy and the society has changed.

"These last years our major project has been cemetery plantings and flower baskets on the Main Street lampposts," Rostad stated.

"We would like to see these projects continue, but due to the few members now in garden club, we are not able to continue the baskets.

"There are opportunities for organizations, families and volunteers to offer to help the city with the care of the various flower beds and landscaping areas in Spring Grove parks such as those in Viking Memorial Park. Volunteers can help with planting, weeding and watering."

"We would like to stir up some interest and see our membership grow," Rostad urges, adding, "The club meets on the last Monday of the month and annual dues are $5."

Anyone interested in learning more about the club or becoming a member is encouraged to contact any of the club's officers: President Joycelyn Rostad at (507) 498-5212, Vice President Joyce Magers at 498-3072, Treasurer Judy Bratland at 498-5147 or Secretary Cathy Hagen at 498-3484.