The Banks Country Garden Club cultivates flowers and friendship

by: COURTESY PHOTO: BANKS GARDEN CLUB - The ladies of the Banks Country Garden Club frequent plant sales together. It’s about flowers and vegetables, soil amendments and fertilizer, cultivating rare plants and perfecting pruning techniques.

But it’s more about finding others who understand how exciting it is when honey bees move into a nearby hollow tree or when a struggling plant finally starts spring with bushels of blooms. It’s more about allowing laughter to fill the place of frustration when carefully propagated plants die or when aphids cover cabbages that are almost ready to harvest after months of waiting.

It’s more about turning the potentially solitary act of gardening into a connection point for individuals who understand what it’s like to have a green thumb.

The Banks Country Garden Club’s foundation rests on a love of plants, but it’s founded on friendship as much as gardening. “It got to me the first meeting. I thought, ‘Wow, these women love the same things I do,’” said Bette Prickett, who loves her geraniums and is a skilled vegetable grower. by: COURTESY PHOTO: ELIZABETH MYER - Elizabeth Myer, the clubs speaking coordinator, looks for wildlife in her yard. She still remembers admiring her great grandmothers orchids as a little girl.

The club was started in 2008 by Vice President Dalice Sawyer (whose mom was an active member of the North Plains Garden Club and encouraged Sawyer to start one in Banks) and President Rita Hofsheier.

Club members go on regular tours of local gardens, nurseries and natural areas, and meet once a month, February through October, when yards and gardens are at their peak. Usually they invite a guest to speak about everything from willow trellises to bamboo, but sometimes they just get together to share tips and tricks. by: COURTESY PHOTO: ROBIN CAVENDISH - Robin Canvendish, who puts together the clubs monthly newsletter, loves watching for wildlife and is a fan of her lilacs and potted patio plants.

Suzanne Dailey is known among club members for the variety of sunflowers — short and tall, yellow and burgundy — that often appear on her mulch pile alongside her Cinderella pumpkins.

Judy Pond incorporates as many native plants as possible, and loves native and non-native dogwoods. Sawyer has a hard time picking her favorite but is always “overjoyed when something blooms” and Ginny Tinling shares her love of a pergola covered with wisteria.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: RITA HOF - Rita Hofsheier spends a lot of time in her yard, which is complete with a miniature train and track that takes guests for a tour. Kathy Douglas likes her pond, while Nancy Haskin is proud of the water-deprived hillside she’s covered with English and French lavender, yucca, cat mint and other drought-tolerant plants.

by: COURTESY PHOTO: DEBRA MOTT - You dont have to be a Master Gardener or have a big garden to join and feel welcome at our club, said Debra Mott, who loves the smell of flowers in bloom. Mott placed Gerome, the clubs traveling gnome, in her flower bed. The club consists of members who are practically horticultural experts and those who just like flowers, members who spend hours every day out in their yard and those who take a more casual approach.

With about 15 consistently active members, no yard of any two club members is the same — big and small, flat and sloping, wild and manicured — and that’s what makes it so fun, club president Hofsheier said.

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