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Local garden club growing strong

Despite undesirable weather, gardens thrive at Ann’s Choice

Created date

September 24th, 2013

Nick Roman, Ann s Choice garden club president, says 2013 was the worst gardening year he s experienced since he and his wife Ida moved from Churchill, Pa., to Erickson Living s community in Bucks County eight years ago. Yet in spite of the drenching rains and blistering heat, Nick s summer squash and Ida s pink-and-white Oriental lilies thrived in the Romans ten-foot-square garden spaces at the community s resident gardens. With more than 100 members, the club is thriving, too.

Growing strong

Launched by Charley Gysi and Joan Greenberg ten years ago, the club brings together like-minded neighbors eager to work the soil each spring and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. Thanks to proceeds from the club s annual dues, Sunday night movie events, and Christmas plant sales, the gardens now boast 120 spaces, paved paths, six raised beds, and three sheds that store supplies and tools for members. Dues are $5 per family; if you have one or more garden spaces, it s $10 per year. There s even a rototiller, picnic tables and chairs, and a tent canopy where gardeners and visitors can sit to enjoy the view of verdant produce and colorful flowers. The garden spaces are located behind Rose Gardens, the appropriately named on-site continuing care neighborhood. Like most club members, Nick and Ida are veteran gardeners. In Churchill, we exhibited our back yard and had more than 100 azaleas and rhododendrons, Nick says. Our vegetable garden was 25 feet square. This summer, he tended four garden spaces, with one devoted to produce. When the Romans harvest more vegetables than they need, they, like most of their green-thumb neighbors, donate the extras to a local food pantry. Club members Ruth Kurtz and Betty Sykes, who started the food pantry program last year, tended five gardens specifically for Warminster s Coordinating Council of Health and Welfare. Besides the food pantry effort, the club gives in other important ways. For instance, this year it donated $4,000 to the Ann s Choice Scholars Fund to benefit the community s student servers.

Programs for plant people

When they aren t nurturing their gardens, club members take trips to local venues such as Morris Arboretum and Longwood Gardens. You could go every month to Longwood and it s always different, says Nick. And when the Ann s Choice Trips and Travel group goes to the Philadelphia Flower Show, we go along, too. September signals the group s annual picnic. The club supplies the hamburgers, hotdogs, and cold drinks, and picnickers bring sides and finger-licking desserts. Monthly meetings feature presentations on a wide range of gardening-related topics. For July s county-fair-style Little Show, part competition and part entertainment, members entered their flowers and produce for judging and questions. Ida, who served as program chair earlier this year, scheduled what was likely the club s most popular presentation ever. She booked internationally known lecturer Rick Mikula, the butterfly guy. Mikula s presentation featured live butterflies and numerous slides. It attracted such interest that the club held it in the banquet-sized multipurpose room and invited all their campus neighbors.