Members plant flowers that add color in downtown
By Staff Report
Since it was started nearly 90 years ago, the Morgan Hill Flower Lovers Club has served as the base for many generations of residents to bring botanical beauty to the homes and streets of the city with colorful fauna. Recently, it held its annual springtime flower sale, a fund-raising event at the Morgan Hill Community & Cultural Center that is popular with local gardeners looking for deals on flower and vegetable plants.
“I think the Grange is older than us by a year or so,” said Lynne Bonino, a past president of the nonprofit for four years. The club members meet at the Community Center at noon on the first Wednesday of each month, except for July and August. The biggest event it holds is its planted pot sale.
“The money we make goes to any qualified student for ag or horticulture or that kind of thing through scholarships,” Bonino said. “We’ve also been helping out schools with children’s gardens funds and trying to educate people in growing plants.”
Joanne Gustavenueson has been a member of the club for five years and enjoys the fun, non-intimidating master gardener talks that are presented on how to get the most out of flower and vegetables in the garden. “We always learn new things,” she said. “And if you have a problem with something (in your garden), they’re able to give you hints on trying new things. It’s very informative.”
The club also hands out fliers from the speakers who come in and talk so that members can bring something home and look things up for reference.
Flower Lovers Club member Sharron Welin, said the camaraderie of the club has helped build the membership numbers. “It’s a good way to meet local people when you come to Morgan Hill, even if you’re not a gardener,” she said. “I moved here 17 years ago and someone told me about it and I’ve made so many great friends.”
The club started out with a mission to stimulate the enjoyment of gardening for nonprofessional gardeners in the South Valley region. It also wants to aid in the protection of native trees, plants and birds and encourage civic planting. Formed from the remnants of the Morgan Hill Civic Club with the help of Horace Kessling, at that time the garden writer for the San Jose Mercury Herald newspaper and the president of the Santa Clara County Garden Club, it held its first meeting on April 3, 1925.
Kessling encouraged all the members to plant roses, saying at the time, “We hope to make Santa Clara County as famous for roses as it is for prunes.”
The club started a flower show tradition early on that has been held nearly every year. The 1935 show, which took place in the fall, was canceled because a very heavy frost that hit early that autumn killed most of the plants and flowers. Members decided to turn their efforts to building the spring flower show.
According to the club’s historic records: “Community beautification has always been the hallmark of the Flower Lovers Club. During the 1939 World’s Fair at Treasure Island in San Francisco, the club members decided the route along the way needed to be beautified. They wanted travelers taking this route to the fair to enjoy the beautiful scenery of flowers and roses alike. This idea resulted in a project to beautify the highway from San Martin to Coyote. Seeds were bought by the Grange Civic Club and the Flower Club. Total cost was a whopping $1.75.”
Members provided the seed to residents living along Monterey Highway and even helped with the planting of the flowers.
In 1963, the Flower Lovers Club members were asked to select an official city flower and the Paul Scarlet rose was chosen.
Today, members keep busy with their green thumbs. Many are involved with the Community Garden on Butterfield Avenue near the County Courthouse. Members are also active in planting flowers in the planter boxes to add color in the downtown area of Morgan Hill. And of course, they are involved in the annual sale in April.
Judy Little, a resident of Morgan Hill, looks forward to the event. “I never miss the sale,” she said. “It’s the price and the variety of the plants are incredible — it’s fantastic. These plants are very well taken care of. There are no bugs The plants are stable. I laid down $20 here so it must be OK.”