Four Seasons Garden Club celebrates 50th anniversary

CORTLAND — The initial intent to form the Four Seasons Garden Club 50 years ago this month was to learn how to grow and arrange flowers and to share gardening tips.

Jeanne Clements, 2016’s Garden Club president, said that’s what happened for her during her six years of membership.

“Prior to joining the Garden Club, I was not a gardener at all. Since joining, I have learned so much from the members and have really expanded my ability to have different flowers on my patio as well as experimenting with different varieties,” Clements said.

“The wealth of information available from our members is just tremendous,” she said.

One of the people she learned from is Kathleen Ferris, 2017 vice president and next year’s president. Designated as a Master Gardener through The Ohio State University Extension, Ferris has been trained in the art and science of gardening. She said it is her mission to pass her knowledge to others.

“Gardening is my passion and I like to take part in beautification projects for the community,” Ferris said.

The current president, Mary Lou Jarrett, has been a member since 1980. As chairwoman of the Golden Anniversary celebration, she is helping organize the yearlong festivities.

“We were established in 1967, but it took all year to get the club going. What we’re doing is a year of reliving some of the milestones of the club. For instance, we’re working on a cookbook this year with all the members’ recipes, including members who have passed, and especially charter members.”

Planning for the creation of the Garden Club began in October 1967. The first official meeting was held Jan. 4, 1968, with 20 people attending. The club has approximately 30 members.

Since its inception, the group has been involved in its Cortland community with landscaping projects and charitable works.

In 1985, the club planted shrubs and perennials at the entrance sign to Willow Park. Members still maintain this site. Members of the beautification committee make sure that the landscaping is pruned, watered and groomed.

In 1988, club members installed large barrels at each entrance into Cortland. In the spring, flowers were planted in them and then maintained by club members. The flower barrel planting continued for a time but is no longer a Garden Club project.

Meanwhile, a flag project continues and was created to show an appreciation for those serving in the military.

“It started the first time I was president in 1991,” Jarrett said. “It was during Desert Storm. We wanted to do something. We went to businesses and asked them to purchase a flag for $25. We raised enough money for 100 flags. The fire department used to, but now the city workers put them up and take them down.”

The flags are located on state Route 46, state Route 5 and Main Street in the city’s business district from Memorial Day through town until Labor Day.

A second flag project that is funded by the club’s spring flower and fall mums sales is to show appreciation for those serving at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in neighboring Vienna.

“Two years ago, when they built the new bridge on Route 11, they put fencing up,” Jarrett said. “My friend and I saw a similar project on the way to Columbus. It took us about six months to get approvals from all of the municipalities and we partnered with Warren Junior Women’s League.

“We purchased 60 flags. The Garden Club bought 30 and Warren Junior Women’s League purchased 30 flags. We have a plaque there that says we did this to honor the servicemen and women. When the planes fly in, they go right over the bridge,” Jarrett said.

Other projects Four Seasons Garden Club members have organized include clothing drives, donations to the Cortland Historical Society and raising money for the community splash pad, a nonslip surface that has sprinklers, fountains and other devices that spray, rain, mist or shoot streams of water to encourage water play.

But gardening remains the focus.

“We go to kindergarten classes and plant a flower with them for their Mother’s Day gift. They plant an annual in a little cup and they watch it grow and they take it home,” Jarrett said.

Four Seasons Garden Club plans to keep making a community impact during its next 50 years, members said.