The Sedgefield Garden Club, the oldest federated garden club in Charlotte, has been inspiring others to live in a more beautiful and healthy environment for more than 60 years.
The club, part of the Garden Club of North Carolina Inc., was started in 1949 under the guidance of the Charlotte Council of Garden Clubs Inc.
Sedgefield Garden Club President Jean Siers said she believes the local club has two important goals.
"We are there to learn about gardening and stewardship of the Earth, from each other and from our programs, and we are there to be a community of support for each other and for others in the Charlotte council," said Siers.
Through the years, the club has done more than get members' hands dirty to help the Sedgefield neighborhood and the Charlotte community.
The club inspired children to learn about gardening by sponsoring a Youth Garden Club at Dilworth Elementary School. Members taught garden therapy to senior citizens in their neighborhood and at local retirement centers. They participated in the Southern Spring Show by designing and creating a display booth.
Many club projects have made lasting impressions in the community. In 1987, the club created a "red, white and blooming garden" at Sedgefield Elementary School in celebration of the U.S. Constitution's bicentennial year.
For several years the club provided landscaping for Habitat for Humanity houses. The club is a longtime supporter of the Charlotte Green Community Gardens, which teaches residents in the Wilmore neighborhood how to plant trees, shrubs, vegetables and flowers.
Another top priority for the club is to educate its Sedgefield neighbors about trees and plants. By partnering with the Sedgefield Neighborhood Association, it has given financial support to the banding of trees against the infestation of canker worms, and each year it hosts a plant sale at the neighborhood festival to sell plants from members' gardens.
"It's a great way to meet people in the neighborhood who are interested in gardening and to share not only plants but information about gardening," said Siers.
Each month, members gather to hear various programs. A few of the recent years' topics include how to conserve water, how bees help your garden and the environment, how to grow and cook with herbs, and creating yard art with pottery.
But for longtime members Gwen Moses and Lucy Hudson, the most important part of the club is its camaraderie.
"I joined shortly after my husband died in 1995," said Moses. "I immediately identified with the group. I have never been a gardener, but the group has always been there for me. We look out for each other."
"We are growing friendships as well as growing plants together," said Hudson.
As a member myself, I have also enjoyed the many benefits of the club. My grandmothers were gardeners, and the club has given me the opportunity to meet women of various generations while learning how to grow bigger and more beautiful flowers.
The club itself has had to grow to keep up with the times: It recently began inviting men to join.
"We felt it was important to open the club to those who really wanted to be a part of it and participate in meetings and activities, regardless of sex," said Siers.
The tradition continues for the women and men of the Sedgefield Garden Club - to be friends to Mother Earth, to their community and to each other.