This article originally appeared in the September/October issue of Northern Gardener.
When 12 gardeners from the Pineridge development in the village of Cottage Grove formed a garden club in 1969, they were careful about the name, says Linda Johnston, club president. The area was growing and they wanted to welcome gardeners from Newport, St. Paul Park and other nearby suburbs. So, they called themselves the Pineridge Garden Club, and 50 years later they are still welcoming to anyone who loves plants and gardening. The club now numbers 37, including three of the original members.
From the beginning, the club focused on beautifying the community, encouraging gardeners and educating members. Its first community project was a garden at the village hall, which club members installed and maintained, including watering it by hand for many years. When Cottage Grove built a new city hall in 2012, club members created an entrance garden—this time with irrigation! They also plant and maintain a smaller garden at Hyde Avenue and East Point Douglas Road, known as the triangle garden, and gardens at Dingle and Heritage Parks in St. Paul Park.
The club began giving Outstanding Garden Awards to individuals with exceptional landscapes in 1979. Club members scout out potential winners and present the awards each July. “People really appreciate being noticed,” says Linda. “One woman displayed her garden award plaque at her 50th wedding anniversary celebration.” Members tour the winning gardens, and each summer they have a “Gaze and Graze,” where they tour members’ gardens and socialize. This mix of service and fun is one reason the club has lasted so long.