Alpena Garden Club recaps successful year

Members of Alpena Garden Club enjoyed another fun-filled year providing their gardening talents to beautify and offer educational opportunities to the Alpena area. Members strive to fulfill the club’s mission statement to further the beatification of the city, promote and increase knowledge in caring for flowers, trees and shrubs.

The club meets monthly from February though December with luncheon meetings held at various local restaurants. The majority of the meetings are open to the public. Locations include The 19th Hole, Los Cuatro Amigos, Alpena Golf Course, John A. Lau Saloon, and bi-annually in October member Judy McFalda hosts the meeting at Karsten’s Restaurant in Rogers City.

Each month after the business meeting members have an opportunity to ask garden questions, followed by a five minute garden talk and then a program.

Annually early in the year, when most people are not even thinking about gardening, several members begin planting seeds for their garden sites at Alpena Community College. This is a long process as it requires constant care in the germinating and transplanting process.

In late May to early June members team up to plant and maintain gardens at six locations in Alpena: Butterfly Garden at Duck Park, Public Safety Building, Alpena Senior Center, flower containers at both the Michigan State Police Post and entrance of Northern Lights Arena. The sixth site is the Second Avenue Bridge project where box containers filled with geraniums and dusty miller plants welcomed all who passed by.

The bridge and nearby triangle area is the most visible and newest site for the club. Members have received numerous accolades from the public and really enjoy beautifying Alpena through their gardens.

Although not a sponsored garden site, many members have helped maintain two additional gardens. One is the plants along Johnson Street in front of ACC and the second is assisting co-member Elizabeth Littler at the Rain Garden. Nurturing, weeding and deadheading is a never ending job, and the hard work of members does not go unnoticed.

Guest speakers have brought the group knowledge in their areas of expertise. Cindy Baker of Lasting Expressions talked about the floral industry and donated roses to each member as well as donated a bouquet of roses that was drawn by a member.

Mike Kendziorski shared his vision for Duck Park and the first phase for building a water tower was completed this past year. After a few months of rest, members look forward to Kendziorski’s next phase as there will be additional garden area surrounding the water tower and covered bridge.

A trip to J.J’s. Farm was a joy learning about the farm operation, seeing all the hard work, experimentation and determination that it takes to run a business like this. Members enjoyed shopping the gift shop and purchasing jam, ice cream, plants and other goodies.

Jason Andrzewski from Roger’s Nursery gave a presentation on preparing the garden for winter. Randy Kuznicki, landscaper from southern Michigan and son of Judy McFalda, spoke about deer resistant plants and donated a garden book to each member.

Ann Belanger from the Presque Isle District Library gave a tour of Roger City’s newest art sculpture commemorating the Calcite plant centennial. Garden tours while in Rogers City included Rich and Mary Sue Wozniak, Jerry Klaft and Len Lukowski, and Tracy Orr.

Lastly, members enjoyed a tour of Stoney Acres Winery and tasted wines in the Tasting Room. The Grochowskis showed the group how to make the caramel corn that is one of the business’s signature treats. Again members enjoyed the gift shop.

Several meetings included educational tidbits and demonstrations to fellow members. Jackie Olsen and Nona Valley taught the group how to force bulbs in the winter while Ann Speaks and Deb Krans demonstrated how to make concrete containers for succulents.

Diane Przeslawski shared with members a recent trip she took to Switzerland and how their gardens and parks differ from the local area. Elizabeth Littler and Dee Law both offered educational topics Law on four national gardens and Littler on the invasive species at Duck Park. During the summer, members tour fellow member’s gardens following meetings.

Educational opportunities also were offered to the community. Several members talked to Head Start families. Geri Skiba went to Ella White Elementary School for a presentation on growing plants from seed. Jane Speer and Jan Hopkins spoke to elementary students at Sanborn.

The annual booth at Let’s Get Growing provided hints and enthusiasm for gardens in early spring. Numerous displays included succulent garden containers, whimsical garden art, free gardening magazines and marigold seed. The club’s booth was a popular stop to enter a name for a garden basket drawing put together by Geri Skiba and Bonnie Plowman.

During August several members joined Thunder Bay Garden Club and traveled by bus to 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.

The grand event for the year was June 1 when noted landscape designer, author, teacher and master gardener Janet Macunovich came to Alpena as a guest speaker. Her 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. These 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.

During 2013, Patti Martinez, Jane Speer, Lois Trudeu and Cathy Knechtel joined, and long time member Toni Wright passed away. Alpena Garden Club currently has 48 members.

Members of the board included: President, Kay Breckenridge; Vice President, Nona Valley; and Director, Jackie Olsen. In addition, returning members for the next two year terms are Diann Gagnon as treasurer and Teresa Yachcik as secretary. When the club meets in February, Diane Przeslawski will be president and Jacinta Boyk will be vice president.

Guests are welcome to attend up to two meetings before joining. If you or your spouse have an interest in gardening, consider attending the next club’s meeting which will be at 11 a.m. on Feb. 3 at The 19th Hole.