Life members share 65 years of memories

Life members of the Maleny Garden Club prepare for a celebration: Olga Webster, Pat Powell, Norma McLeod, Val Bengston and Corinne Taylor

Life members of the Maleny Garden Club prepare for a celebration: Olga Webster, Pat Powell, Norma McLeod, Val Bengston and Corinne Taylor

Maleny Garden Club Inc. celebrate their 65th Birthday and Friendship Day in September. The surviving Life Members share their favourite times spent with their gardening friends…

65 years ago Olga Webster became a member soon after the foundation of the Maleny and District Horticultural Society. Her husband, Alan, was Foundation Treasurer and Club Patron for 40 years. Olga’s mother, Ida Nothling, was also a Foundation Member.

My memories commence from the 1950’s when we experienced a bad hail storm. Alan Lockwood, who grew a lot of dahlias at Conondale, thought he might lose them so he gathered them up for Peg Burnett who was a keen floral artist, to see if she could use them.

Her husband Rixon laid two sheets of corrugated iron on the carpet in the lounge and placed the blooms on them. They laid them out and  decided to make a floral carpet at a fete that was to be held in the next day or two.

We have many beautiful Camellias on our property which we were able to share with members when meetings were held in our garden. Meetings were held monthly in different members’ gardens, and a guest speaker was usually present either imparting their knowledge or demonstrating Floral Art.

Shared picnic lunches and fellowship after the meetings are still fresh in my mind. The floral carpets were so much fun, joy and satisfaction, they brought us all together.”

Pat Powell assumed the role of the President of the Garden Club in 1993, taking over from Corinne Taylor.

Corinne had worked so hard to make the Club more efficient which made my tenure so much easier. My memories are of meetings held, “weather permitting”, in members’ gardens, with an invitation to walk around the garden learning about plants which grew well on our Range.

Local members were most helpful to the newcomers. We experimented with mixed success with plants from both cool and tropical districts. Corinne had instigated a “bird in our garden’” segment into our meetings for us to become familiar with the birds in our district.

A few members were most knowledgeable bird watchers, telling us about the birds, their calls and habits.

Our Autumn Show developed from being just a floral carpet to a theme plus a carpet. It was felt if visitors were to pay to view our carpet, buy our plants and produce that we needed to provide a larger more interesting display than the previous year.

One year we arranged displays from our garden to compliment a picture. Another year we celebrated Waltzing Matilda with displays and floral contributions from our gardens.

During my time as President, “Gardening Australia” came to Queensland and so started years of Maleny gardens being opened to locals and visitors.

This secured a place for Maleny on the garden map for interested gardeners in Queensland. Our Garden Club has become a very popular venue for new arrivals interested in gardening, forging friendships which have lasted for a lifetime.”

Di Hall was President and Floral Carpet convenor for many years.

I came to Maleny from the Kenmore Garden Club. I recall attending my first garden club meeting which was advertised in the Range News, where I was made most welcome by the ten or so members.

It was from that meeting where the members gave me a carload of cuttings which I used to get the garden started. I gained so much knowledge from attending the meetings.

I have wonderful memories of Club members: one of the members was an excellent painter of ceramics, paintings of birds, some of which I still have in my possession.

There is something about belonging to a Garden Club that invokes a spirit of generosity, have you ever met a gardener that wasn’t happy to share what they have?

I miss the picnics that we used to have where food, laughter (and the odd fly, dust and ants) were shared.

Val Bengston came to Maleny as a child.

I have very strong memories of members’ generosity, providing cuttings that could be grown in my garden. I also have fond memories making the carpets. It was a long process, pine branches being stripped of the needles which were then used as a bed for the flowers, it took days to get that ready.

Working together on the carpet where the creative and talented members put everything in its place, we with the scissors and secateurs on our hands and knees, handing things to them, it was such good camaraderie.

We worked on the designs for months before the carpets were made, featuring themes the members voted on. The designs were firstly drawn or painted then replicated with blooms.

A flying carpet made in 2003 on a frame suspended off the floor complete with Persian slippers was a highlight.

I remember all the work when the ladies in the Club catered for the Autumn and Spring Fairs. Many memories of wonderful lasting friendships.

Norma McLeod first attended a meeting in a member’s garden, met 30 welcoming ladies and was hooked.

Working at Autumn Fairs in the Community Centre with theme displays and floral carpets was a joy. One year Colin Campbell sat in a hut constructed from bamboo poles and banana leaves to give his gardening advice.

The Spring Fairs had flower and floral art competitions with craft/produce, plants, cuttings and Tussie Mussie (posies) stalls. Perfume wafted outside and two ladies in evening gowns sold Tussie Mussies in the street.

I have wonderful memories of gardening knowledge gained and friendships maintained. So many good times shared with like-minded folk. It has been a source of much pleasure seeing the Garden Club grow and the enthusiasm of the members.

I remember going to my first meeting and bringing a lupin for the flower competition that I was rather proud of and being told “Take that home, that’s not a flower”, so I just sat down. After so many years she can still laugh about it.

June Crane came to Maleny from being the President of the Indooroopilly Garden Club and very quickly became involved in the Maleny Gardening event calendar, being the organiser of the Autumn & Spring Fairs as well as Secretary.

Belonging to a garden club to me means friendship, sharing and learning from others. The best decision that I have ever made was to move to Maleny and join the Garden Club.

Jo Tedman organised the Club Raffles for nigh on 14 years, continually coming up with something that the members were always keen to take home.

The popular Tussie Mussies were another initiative of Jo’s and memories of working together with Thalia Skerman, Leonie Loch and Nancy Schaffer are precious.