In early spring nurseries open full-time and markets beckon with flats of annuals for quick color in the landscape. As the season peaks, gardeners focus on pruning, planting, watering, and shaping. If you’ve hesitated to venture outside with gloves and trowel, know that there’s plenty of the gardening season left. And you’ll find plenty of practical and educational help from one of Mother Nature’s biggest boosters: the garden club. The Sasqua Garden Club draws its membership from Fairfield, Southport, Easton, Westport and Weston. This group is not just about flower arranging. Founded in 1930, Sasqua has been a member since 1940 of the Garden Club of America, a national organization that is celebrating its centennial next year. The club takes its name from the Sasqua tribe; legend has it that they used an elm tree on which to hang their papooses while tillling the fields. The Papoose Tree, as it was known, was located on the property of Mrs. Hayes, one of the club’s early members, and is reflected in the club’s logo.
The club has always been rooted in local and national issues. “When I first went to the parent organization’s national affairs and legislation meeting in Washington, D.C., I was amazed at how engaged the garden club is with important environmental issues at that level,” says Sasqua Club President Jane Cary. Its mission is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening and creative design, but the club also protects, restores and improves the quality of the environment. Toward this end, the Sasqua club has sponsored local education and conservation projects and hosted environment-related programs, including a symposia on organic lawn care and the planting of native species. “We try to get members in the habit of doing small things that have incremental effects,” says Cary.
Sasqua club members installed the daffodils blooming in several public locations in Fairfield and Southport. They plant and maintain the front gardens at the Fairfield Senior Citizen Center throughout the growing season. Members also connect with students at Reade Elementary School in Bridgeport, organizing trips to the Connecticut Audubon Birdcraft Museum and working with the children on holiday floral projects. At Tomlinson Middle School, the club collaborated with Oliver’s Nursery to design and plant an interior courtyard. They’ve also undertaken beautification projects at the Fairfield Town Hall and Fairfield train station. Ambitiously, they combined talent with the Fairfield Garden Club to underwrite plantings at the Fairfield Museum and History Center.
From May 17 through May 19, the club will host a Garden Club of America Flower Show at the Christ and Holy Trinity Church in Westport. Its theme, Splish Splash, showcases the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds. The show will feature exhibitors from around the region, with entries in horticulture, floral arranging, photography and botanical jewelry design. A garden-themed party and raffle are part of the festivities. If you’d simply like to do work around your own garden, the club has ideas for that as well.