73-year-old garden club has deep roots

Published 10:00 am Friday, April 26, 2024

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The Glendale Garden Club has been a staple in the community since 1951. The group of, on average, 20 women has remained active in the Valley and Chambers County community ever since. 

Longtime club member Uthel Hill was in possession of a diary from when the club started. 

One of the early entries read, “A group of businesswomen met to discuss the organization of a garden club for women who work and could not attend afternoon meetings but love flowers and were interested in learning to cultivate and arrange them.” 

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While it started as a gardening club, many of the members have slowed down, some being in their nineties. So, the group has had to evolve. However, they still have gardening and horticulture at the center of the things they do.

They organize presentations around the area focused on plants, and sometimes local history. The club does community service projects. Their annual tradition is to “adopt a senior” at Lanier Nursing Home who may be alone for the holidays or buy presents for a local family. 

The club started the planting of the crepe myrtle trees along Fob James Drive in Valley. Now they try to partner up with local organizations and schools to plant beds around the area. 

The most recent presentation was put on by Sheila Slavich, an author and owner of the Griggs home in Lanett. The women got to tour Slavich’s garden to see a variety of roses. However, the main attraction was the house itself. 

It sits in front of Fort Tyler, the last Confederate fort captured during the American Civil War. After the Battle of West Point and the capture of the fort, the house became a hub for injured soldiers on both sides. 

Slavich is a former journalist and now the author of “Jumpin’ the Rails!” a historical fiction book set at the Griggs home. Slavich relates the history of the home and its role during the final days of the Civil War. She points out cannonball dents in the original limestone walls, the love for the old home evident as she speaks.

Slavich’s two kids grew up in the home. She said she tried to impress the importance of knowing its history to them. As a project for Girl Scouts, Slavich’s daughter replaced some of the historical signs around the fort. 

“The house has always been known for its roses. On the day of the battle the roses were all closed up,” Slavich said. “It was an unseasonally cold Easter, and so the roses were all closed and they opened up from the cannon fire.”

The story was that the heat or nitrogen from the cannon fire of the battle caused the roses to bloom despite the cold weather.

The group of gardeners had a chance to stroll through the home’s current rose garden. The latest generation of cicadas called the Southern Brood made an appearance by buzzing around the flowers. 

While the club mostly meets for lunch to catch up once a month, now that many of them are unable to garden, the love of flowers continues to tie the group together.