Garden Club of Forest Hills continues flowering after 90 years

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The Garden Club of Forest Hills first took root in 1923, founded by a group of 12 home gardeners who valued the beauty of nature and the outdoors. Ninety years later, it's still blooming.

In honor of the club's birthday, members and guests gathered last Thursday for a luncheon and flower arranging at the Restaurant at Grand View Gold Club in North Braddock.

The celebration continues on Arbor Day, April 26, with the planting of a columnar maple at Forest Hills Park with a plaque commemorating the club's 90 years of service to the community.

Other festivities will include a plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 4 at which a variety of annuals, perennials and vegetable plants will be available for purchase; a plant auction from 7 to 9:30 p.m. May 8 with plants that have been donated from members' gardens and local nurseries; and a flower show, 90 Years of Celebrating Women, at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 16 featuring arrangements designed by club members.

All events will be free and open to the public and will be held at Forest Hills Presbyterian Church on Ardmore Boulevard.

The Garden Club of Forest Hills is a member of The Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania and is the oldest garden club in its district and in Western Pennsylvania.

Counted among its 43 members are four master gardeners, three National Garden Club flower show judges, four gardening consultants and two landscape design consultants.

Though gardening is their forte, publicity chairwoman Kathy Gaberson said the club is also an outreach to the community.

"The club objective is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening within the community of Forest Hills and to aid in protecting the native plants, trees and birds in our community," she said.

Garden Club members have left their fingerprints all over the area by planting perennials, weeding flower beds, and planting and maintaining pocket gardens along local roads and in Forest Hills Park.

In the past three years, they have planted more than 2,000 daffodils throughout Forest Hills, many of them on the hillside on Braddock Road between Ardmore Boulevard and the entrance to the community pool.

It was outreaches such as these that Mrs. Gaberson said drew her to the club two years ago.

"I could see the outcomes of the club's efforts to beautify the community," she said. "I value that. I really appreciate volunteer contributions to make our community more livable."

Garden Club president Carolyn Reuter joined in 2006 and said she enjoys the speakers who teach members about various topics related to gardening.

A program on Japanese gardens drew conservation chairman Marilyn Berry to join the club in 1973. She had just returned from a six-month stint in Japan with her family and was looking to build a Japanese garden at her home.

"I had a purpose in mind when I went, but it's been quite an adventure," she said. "We do exciting things. It's a wonderful club and it's represented our community so well."

Ms. Reuter said she finds the good work that the club does gratifying.

"It was organized to promote gardening and greening of our community and we have continued to maintain that as part of what we do," she said. "We reach out to the community and we do plantings to make Forest Hills a welcoming place."

The club meets at 10 a.m. the first Thursday of each month from March to December at Hope Lutheran Church on Ridge Avenue.

A business meeting and lunch are followed by a variety of programs related to gardening, floral design and environmental issues.

In addition, members meet every Tuesday morning, weather permitting, to groom the flower beds at Forest Hills Park.

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Shannon M. Nass, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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