If you’ve ever marveled at the garden centerpiece at Flagler Hospital or wondered who keeps the grounds at the Wildflower Clinic, you’ve been touched by the work of the Garden Club of St. Augustine. Many of the city’s public spaces have been maintained season after season by this group of thoughtful green thumbs. This extraordinary group of men and women enrich our community with a shared appreciation for nature and connecting us to it, quite quietly in fact.
If you open your eyes and breathe it in, you may just get a glimpse and scent of what they are up to. With a collaborative, aesthetic eye and a penchant for preserving nature’s most beautiful – yet temporary – gifts, a common interest in horticulture and floral design is behind this club’s mission. In addition, much of its work educates the public on the importance of conservation and sharing that beauty with the next generation. “The memory of beautiful flowers lasts forever,” says President Beverly Stuart, who oversees the many outreach programs organized by the 10 separate circles of members – over 250 in total.
They host the heavily-attended Christmas Annual Tour of Homes, which partners with local homeowners to showcase perfect florals in exquisite homes, and the annual GCSA Flower Show and EPIC Spring Garden Fest at the Agriculture Center in April. This year, a partnership with the Lightner Museum supported the Dressing Downton Exhibit with freshly-themed flower arrangements perfectly paired with costumes from the internationally-acclaimed series.
Perhaps the club’s most lasting work is planting seeds for the next generation. Imbuing interest in protecting shared natural resources while educating youth on the important link between pollinators and flowers, the Nature Detectives Annual Summer Program offers programs for children up to 12 in partnership with all St. Johns County Libraries. The series of workshops delves into the science of pollinators, from bees to birds and beyond. If you thought flowers were just for girls, this summer focuses on lizards. Definitely boy approved!
Throughout the year at their headquarters, the club hosts Fun with Flowers workshops with local designers. The best part is creating your own to bring home. And yet there is more – each circle provides grants for schools, nursing homes, assisted living residences, and hospitals. Recently the club’s Las Adelfas Circle worked with the Florida School for The Deaf and Blind (FSDB) to create herb and vegetable gardens by campus kitchens while beautifying grounds.