Skip to main content

Amelia Islander

Cultivating Community

Mar 12, 2017 02:19PM

Club officers from left; Beverly Williams, president; Kathleen Lunman, Vice President; Reha London, Treasurer; Carolyn Stevens, FFGC District Director. Not pictured: Kathye Reily, Secretary. First club meeting, September 2016.

Club officers from left; Beverly Williams, president; Kathleen Lunman, Vice President; Reha London, Treasurer; Carolyn Stevens, FFGC District Director. Not pictured: Kathye Reily, Secretary. First club meeting, September 2016.

In early 2016, Beverly Williams and Carolyn Stevens decided that Amelia Island and greater Nassau County needed a state garden club to serve its residents. Williams, a Fernandina Beach resident, was already a member of a federated garden club in Jacksonville, as well as a flower show judge.

“Like myself, many residents were active in a federated club before moving here from another state,” says Williams. “Most of us were learning how to navigate Florida’s unique climate and soil. Others wanted to continue their floral design studies.” She and Stevens, District IV Director of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc. (FFGC), hoped to promote service projects and community building around Nassau County through floral design, gardening, and environmental studies. The Bartram Garden Cub was formed in September 2016, beginning with 26 charter members. It is so named to honor the legacy of Colonial naturalist William Bartram, who set foot in Florida at Amelia Island in 1774. “We felt it was appropriate to acknowledge the role he played in Northeast Florida’s history,” says Williams. “Bartram discovered many plants and animals here unknown to science at that time.” In total, 21 Bartram Trail markers have been dedicated at various sites in Florida by state garden clubs. One marker stands at the riverfront in downtown Fernandina Beach.

“Service to the community is an important hallmark of the club,” says Stevens. “Members place a floral design on a rotating basis in the foyer of the Fernandina library, serve on the Design Council of Fernandina Main Street, and lead garden therapy programs at a local assisted living facility. One member is actively identifying heritage trees within the City of Fernandina Beach. The club hopes to soon sponsor National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC) ‘Design Study Units 1-6,’ a series of basic design workshops taught by FFGC instructors, which will be offered to club members and open to the general public.”

Members Alice Caldwell and Claudia Burningham led a garden therapy program recently at Osprey Village, Amelia Island.

The Bartram Garden Club meetings are open to all and cover a wide variety of topics; their membership represents many types of gardening interests and skill levels. Programs address the various needs of members as well as the latest trends in gardening and landscape design, while consideration is always given to supporting environmental responsibility.

Studying floral design art is one of the three basic pillars of a well-balanced garden club, keeping the focus on plant material—how to grow it, use it, and display it. The club’s design studies aim to help members creatively use fresh and/or dried plant material in an artistic and functional manner. The club also encourages members and the general public to enroll in garden study courses sponsored by FFGC and NGC.

Through National Garden Clubs, the club provides a broad spectrum of gardening-related studies for NGC credit. Gardening Studies, Landscape Design, and Environmental Studies are three separate series of courses offered to affiliate members.

The Bartram Garden Club currently meets at the Fernandina branch of the Nassau County Public Library the second Thursday of the month, September through May, beginning at 10 a.m. Programs alternate between design, horticulture, and environmental topics. During every meeting club members contribute pocket change which, when it totals $68, will be sent to the Forest Service and used to plant 350 pine seedlings.

Guests and prospective members are always welcome. For more information about the organization and upcoming meetings, visit the club’s website at www.bartramgardenclub.org.