Garden Club keeps busy beautifying Alpena, learning

Alpena Garden Club members have been busy beautifying Alpena and increasing their knowledge on garden-related topics. Members maintain six garden sites Michigan State Police, Northern Lights Arena, Alpena Senior Citizens Center, Alpena Fire Safety Building, Butter Fly Garden at Island Park, and the Second Avenue Bridge and nearby triangle, their newest site.

The group is eagerly awaiting completion of the wooden bridge that Mike Kendziorski and other local volunteers are tackling to improve the Alpena Wildlife Sanctuary. With a two-year completion time frame, members will have a significantly larger area for plantings.

The first phase has started and involved removal of the existing pump house. A unique water tower will soon be housed over that spot and will be equipped with an underground water station, making it easier for members to maintain the garden on Chisholm Street across from Alpena Regional Medical Center.

Early each spring many club members and other volunteers meet at Alpena Community College under the direction of Dr. Henry Stibitz, where they begin planting flowers and vegetables from seed. The majority of these are planted at both Johnson Street near ACC and at the club’s six garden sites.

The rest of the plants are sold by members during their Spring Plant Sale. ACC sale proceeds go back to fund expenses for the next spring. This spring the sale was held at the Alpena Farmer’s Market, a new location.

After participating in the annual Let’s Get Growing event held in April at the APlex, several members offered educational opportunities to local Head Start youngsters. Then June 1, the club hosted noted landscape designer, author, teacher and master gardener Janet Macunovich in a special workshop at the Alpena County Library.

Macunovich’s topic, “Designing the Small Flower Garden,” included all the basics of design with special points for beginning gardeners and those who are downsizing a garden. Numerous vendors were featured and a wide variety of door prizes and Chinese raffle items were donated by over 25 local merchants.

The items included flower arrangements, bird feeders, gardening tools, hanging baskets, gardening gloves and numerous gift certificates. The event was well attended with garden enthusiasts from Alpena and surrounding counties. Each month after the business meeting, members have an opportunity to ask garden questions, followed by a five-minute garden talk and a program. Recent garden talks included Diane Przeslawski sharing her recent trip to Switzerland in which she spoke about the plants, vineyards and orchards found there.

At another meeting, prior to sharing highlights about four of the country’s National Gardens, Dee Law began with a quote from Charles Sargent, a landscape designer in the 1920s, whose advice to gardeners was “to make the plan fit the ground and not to twist the ground to fit a plan.”

Recent meetings included a tour of AJ’s Garden & Produce on M-65 and nearby Stoney Acres Winery on Truckey Road, where members received a tour and tasted a wide variety of wines in their tasting room. The winery, owned by Jim and Helen Grochowski, uses fruit from local farmers to produce its signature wines ranging from dry to semi-sweet in nearly all varieties.

During August, several members joined Thunder Bay Garden Club and traveled by bus to the Saginaw Japanese Cultural Center, Children’s Zoo and Bay City Farmer’s Market. The Thunder Bay Garden Club meets in the evening and many members belong to both clubs.

Recent guests attending luncheon meetings included Cindy Wilson, Sandy Donajkowski, Heidi Speaks-LaCross, Lois Trudeau, Cathy Knechtel and Patti Martinez. Trudeau, Knechtel and Martinez have recently joined the club.

Anyone interested in attending a meeting may contact one of the members or call Kaye at 278-9056 for more information. The club meets the first Monday of each month for a luncheon meeting with a majority of the meetings open to the public.

With the upcoming Labor Day holiday, the next meeting will be held on Sept. 9. Watch The Alpena News for more details.