By Marie Allen
JUNE 2 - 8, 2019, is National Garden Week and The Chunnenuggee Garden Club is taking part in this nationwide effort to encourage pride in communities and coopreation among groups to help to in educating the general public on the importance of practicing better and environmentally safe methods of gardening.
Most people in the south are well informed gardeners of vegetables and flowers, and are aware of the benefits of both. However, new information on growing methods, improved knowledge of soils, and types of fertilization and pest control is being constantly updated.
The Chunneggee Garden Club is involved in the community in various ways and we wish to generate interest among our local neighbors in everything we do. We would like to share new and old information that we learn through programs and publications. Of our eleven members, only three live in Union Springs, two live in Fitzpatrick, and others a live miles apart within the county.
President for 2019-2020 is Mrs. Kenneth Allen (Marie) of the Sardis community. All club members enjoy particpating in projects for the betterment of Union Springs and Bullock County, and at the request of our Garden Club of Alabama National Garden Week Chairman, Jolene Gothard of Clayton, Alabama, we have chosen to to publicize the events and maximize visibility of Chunnenuggee Garden Club.
This is an easy task for this club because of the excellent publicity work of our Reporter, Faye Gaston. Due to her monthly informative articles and excellent pictures, every aspect of our meetings and projects are familiar to Union Springs Herald readers.
Mrs. Gaston also keeps a "Press Book" that is sent in to the State Garden Club each year. It was awareded the honor of Best Press Book for 2018.
Monthly club meetings are held according to National Garden Club rules and a member or a guest presents a program of their choice or a theme chosen from a list made available by our state and national leaders. Good gardening practices and floral design are our main interests, but we are vitally interested in our local culture and and beautification of our local area.
Programs may cover environmental and eco-system protection and good forestry practices, as well as increasing our knowledge of insect control, birds butterflies, bees and subjects that may be of benefit our local ccommunities. With the invaluable help of our local foresters, we plant a tree and present an Arbor Day Program every year.
Thanks for all the Union Springs mayors, past and present, who have welcomed and assisted our club in designating a suitable place to plant our special tree, which is either purchased with club funds or donated by an interested citizen.
Club members water and care for the new tree until it begins to thrive. Interested people have assisted our club to obtain and install memorial plaques placed at the base of several of our planted trees in memory of past club members or to honor a deserving person.
A favorite forestry project is the Smokey Bear poster contest conducted each year with the cooperation of the headmistress and teachers at Conecuh Springs Christian School. Our local foresters are generous with their time and provide informative literature to help us spark interest among young students, mostly fourth and fifth graders, and help them learn fire safety along with the necessity of protecting our forests from wild fires.
Garden clubs are known for enjoying a social hour, and we even name a "cheer person" who entertains with jokes or funny stories at the end of each meeting while refresments are being served. Of course, the main purpose of garden club meetings, as stated, above, is to learn new or old information on flowers and plants and related subjects in which the love of nature is highlighted.
We have learned from bee keepers about tending bee hives and gathering honey, and most importantly, saving the endangered honey bees.
Many kinds of birds have been featured in our programs, and hummingbirds have become a a particular favorite Learning of the amazing reproduction cycle of butterflies along with their role as pollinators and the amazing migration of Monarchs, has culminated in a desire to improve our yards and lawns to create a haven for these beautiful insects.
Almost every program includes tips on practices that benefit our natural world. We are looking forward to a fall program on Birds of Prey, with an emphasis on owls. Water gardens, houseplants, succulents and cacti are some of our recent themes for discussion.
Landscape design, the propagation of camellias, and vegetable gardening were features of recent good programs. An occasional guest who teaches methods of floral design will often be on our program list.
Chunnenuggee Garden Club appreciates the generous cooperation of Bonnie Plant Farm, a local business that has grown into a well-known nationwide provider of garden plants and flowers. We are fortunate to have Sharon Capps, a long-time Bonnie employee, to coordinate our relationship the Bonnie Plants.
In the last several years our members have enjoyed very informative programs willingly presented by different Bonnie representatives, and the plant samples they provided with each program were always a delightful bonus.
Thanks to Sharon Capps for occasionally arranging for the use of one of the plant farm's meeting rooms and we especially appreciate the generousiy of managers and office of Bonnie Plants.
We are fortunate to have a congenial group of multi-talented club members and we always appreciate the work and knowledge of each member. We have very who are talented in different ways and all our hard-working club members, who are always eager to learn and share useful gardening information, as well as growing and arranging flowers for personal enjoyment.
We are lucky to have Joyce Turnipseed as our hard-working Vice-President. Joyce is a master gardner who willingly shares her knowledge, ideas and expertise on forestry and nature conservancy. Space prevents listing all the attributes of our club members, but we are all nature lovers who are willing to offer help to others. At this time we hope to lead new members into our club or perhaps "plant" a new club in this area.
Club projects include the attractive flower bed that we recently re-planted at the street corner near the Red Door Theater. Club members are now working on scheduled times for watering and upkeep.
Unfortunately some of the new plants were damaged by state workers, but efforts are currently being made to revitalize or replace the damaged plants. We are appreciative of the City of Union Springs street crew for their cooperation.
This community service project was chosen to show our suppot and appreciation for the Bullock County Tourism Council for their work in bringing the beautiful former Episcopal Church building back to life as a place for local plays and cultural events. Their tireless efforts have created an asset of beauty and culture to the city and county, as well as adding a popular tourist attraction. Included with upkeep of the "Red Door Corner" bed, we are happy to work on the flowers beds beside the steps at the nearby Carnegie Library.
Over the long history of Chunneggee Garden Club, generations of members have maintained the small, fenced garden plot on the "Old Powell Place," located a few miles from Union Springs. One of Alabama's Historical Markers now stands beside the old iron fence, with a brief history of the first recorded American public garden enscribed.
Due to the privations of post-Civil War reconstruction, upkeep of the elaborate Chunnenuggee Public Garden became impossible, but with admirable foresight, the club designated the current small plot to be preserved for historical reference. The current membership is honored to continue upkeep of this treasured plot.
Other club activities include granting life-time memberships to the longest serving members. Each award represents a donation to a horticultural scholarship fund at Auburn University. Locally, we place flowers at the nursing home at Christmas and decorate a Christmas tree for patrons of the Bullock County Nutrition Center to enjoy.
To cover expenses, we have fund raising projects to supplement club dues. Our main fund-raiser is selling food items and miscellaneous handmade goods at the yearly Chunnenuggee Fair hosted by the Bullock County Historical Society.
At this event, we also sell chances on a a basket filled with useful gardening items, and this year chances were sold on a battery powered hedge trimmer donated by club member Joyce Turnipseed and her husband. We thank our donors as well as all the local fairgoers who enjoyed our booth and bought tickets for the drawing.
Club membership is usually limited to 20 or less, but at this time the club is thriving with only 11 congenial members.
We would like to increase our membership or perhaps help start a new club. Anyone interested in being a member of our current club, or would like help in starting a new club, please contact any club member or one of the officers, all named at the end of this article.
We ask our members to be willing to participate in all our projects or support the club with its finances. One of the advantages of membership is to receive "The Hortensia" a quarterly bulletin published by the Garden Club of Alabama.
It has grown into an informative magazine with many amazing and interesting articles in each issue. Our reporter and photographer, Faye Gaston, keeps The Chunnenuggee in our local news, so refer to the Union Springs Herals to find names of our members if you would like more information about the club.