Ruth Lemke and her daughter, Ann Ihrke, plant petunias in the pots in downtown Spring Valley.  The club is hoping more members will join them this summer.
Ruth Lemke and her daughter, Ann Ihrke, plant petunias in the pots in downtown Spring Valley. The club is hoping more members will join them this summer.
Talk dirt with friends.

"We have 17 members, with several Garden Club friends who don't want to be members but are available to help with the annual flower show and community flower beds and pots," said Jan Hammon, a member of the Spring Valley Garden Club, which boasts members who range from 30 to 100 years in age - including centenarian and charter member Lenora Hintze.

The club meets the second Tuesday of the month from February to December at the Spring Valley Public Library to discuss everything from dirt to blooms. Members recently spent a Thursday evening once again planting petunias in tubs along Broadway's sidewalks.

"The fun part about being in the club is the networking of resources. You come away with information on a wide range of topics and are able to bring your questions to the group who has a wealth of varied experiences to draw from," said Hammon. "Plant exchanges among the group are always a fun way to enlarge your plant variety, the field trips are always fun, and gardeners love to see other gardens...the gardens range from fruits and vegetable to flowers."

Fellow member Ann Ihrke enjoys "the variety of people brought together with this common interest in gardening."

The club plants and maintains seven community flower beds - around the flagpole by Subway, the cemetery, the visitor center, the post office, two at South Park and the Highway 16 Spring Valley sign - and 12 downtown flower pots that add color and beauty to the downtown. The members volunteer to be responsible for a tub and then there are other members who act as backups to cover vacations or busy times when that member is unable to do it.

Additionally, the club plans to hold its annual Ag Days flower show, has held its May plant sale, plotted a garden tour for June 10, and is busy raising funds to perpetuate its blooming mission. The plant sale in May raises funds to take care of the beds and planters. Members bring plants from their gardens to sell, and they also purchase young plants in early spring that they raise to sell; this year it's mums. They also take donations at the Ag Days Flower Show, as well as have a sale table with a variety of plants and items. At their Christmas party, they bring items for a sale table and do a silent auction.

Hammon noted that the club often holds regular meetings throughout the growing season at gardeners' homes as a way for short field trips to the back or front yard to be made possible. The club meets once a month on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., usually at the Spring Valley Library from February to December. They each take turns hosting the meeting, and sometimes they will meet at the host's home.

"It is always fun to see the host's gardens," said Hammon.

At the meetings, they talk about any events they have coming up and take care of any business issues, then the host presents information on a topic of her choice and refreshments are served. Sometimes, they will meet with other garden clubs for district meetings, or if a club has a special event going on, such as a garden tour or a special speaker. They will be touring Melissa King's approximately 30 to 40 varieties of peonies north of Spring Valley on June 10.

"Occasionally we get together with other clubs for garden tours," Ihrke added. "In the past, there was more activity with the Minnesota Horticulture Society and having district meetings twice a year with special speakers and flower arranging competitions, but everyone's lives are getting so busy those meetings occur less frequently, so we learn what people have growing or blooming in their yards, different ways to garden - such as in straw all depends on who has our meeting topic and what their interest is."

Hammon and Irhke invited gardeners with all kinds of dirt to join the club.

"We would like people to know that we would love people to join us," Hammon said. "Everybody is welcome - men, women, any age, experienced gardener, never gardened before - everybody. Come to one meeting, one event a year, or come to all - it doesn't matter. It works for whatever your schedule is or how involved you want to be. We try to put the next month's meeting location - if it will be at the host's home - in the meeting minutes, and these are posted on our website. Any member can also be contacted as far as where the meeting will be held."

Ihrke warned prospective members not to expect master gardeners in their midst. "We are not a group of gardening experts. We all have an interest in gardening - flowers, vegetables, house plants - and enjoy meeting together to share our interest, ideas, and experiences with plants. Most of us have learned by doing. I can raise plants but I am terrible at identifying most plants. We would love to have new members."

It is not necessary to attend every meeting and club dues are minimal - only $12 a year - with an optional membership to the Minnesota Horticulture Society, but the club picks up part of that membership cost.

They also would like to have a list of Garden Club friends, people they can call on to maybe take over watering for a week so when someone goes on vacation, they can help.

"We can always use more help with the flower show to serve or provide treats," said Ihrke.

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