The Bristol Garden Club was founded in 1928 by local resident Mrs. William Perry. The club, which is a part of the Rhode Island Federation of Garden Clubs, has grown to 33 members strong – and not every member is a perfect green thumb. “Our ranks include everyone from novice gardeners and plant enthusiasts to master gardeners, accredited flower show judges and award winning floral designers,” says current club president Pamela Bishop. “We represent a wide range in age, interests and levels of expertise.”
That means that if you are a Bristol or Warren resident who loves gardening but call yourself a “brown thumb,” you might just want to join. Many of the monthly programs hosted by the Bristol Garden Club are open to the public and designed to educate and inform on diverse topics including environmental concerns, horticulture and gardening and floral design. Design critiques or horticultural question/answer sessions are offered to expand learning opportunities.
The mission of the Bristol Garden Club is “to embrace community service and educational opportunities while fostering social interaction among members.” This includes encouraging the gardeners of tomorrow. The club partners annually with the “Best Buddies” student organization at Mount Hope High School, which pairs students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in one-to-one friendships with fellow high school students to produce an annual plant sale each May. The club also offers an annual college scholarship (currently in the amount of $1,500) for a Bristol or Warren resident majoring in some aspect of natural science. (The recipient for academic year 2014-15 is pursuing a career in ethnobotany, the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people
In addition to the spring plant sale, the club’s annual projects include extensive participation in the Rhode Island Flower Show in Providence in February at organizational and management, judging and exhibitor levels. Historically, the club’s projects have included organized garden tours and standard flower shows. A major upcoming project will be the partnership with Blithe- wold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol to present a standard flower show at the mansion April 18-19, 2015.
“The Bristol Garden Club continues to be a vital and creative force dedicated to sharing with our community, both local and extended, the beauty and joy we find in our plants and in our gardens as we seek to increase awareness and appreciation of nature’s gifts,” says Pamela. The club welcomes interested visitors to attend a meeting.
“Slightly more than half of us are novices,” estimates Pamela “We have a few really knowledgeable members. It’s a really wide ranging group. We welcome anyone who loves flowers basically.” Together, club members share tips, advice and friendship. “Gardeners are endearing because they are giving, caring people. They are nice to hang out with!”
“Remember that gardens are meant to be enjoyed above all else,” advises Bishop. “Beyond that, they are a playground for experimentation. Never be afraid to try new things and to ask questions. Other gardeners are typically eager and happy to share information – and often plants!”