Club to disband after floral show

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Lands End Garden Club members (from left) Marilyn Clark, Carol Baxter, Yvonne White and Paddy Rowe.

AFTER more than two decades of flowers, friendship and fun, the Lands End Garden Club will soon be wound down.

But before the big day, there is still the annual Bluff Flower Show, which the members host in conjunction with The Southland Dahlia Circle.

This year’s show will be held at Te Rau Aroha Marae in Bluff on February 9 and 10, and although members are excited to host the colourful and vibrant show, they are also heavy hearted this will be their last.

Founding and life member Yvonne White said: “It was sad for all the members [to decide to end the club], but in particular for me as I started it.”

Having moved to Bluff from Waimate, she decided to reach out to the community to gauge people’s interest in re-establishing a club for those who enjoyed gardening.

That was almost 24 years ago, she said, “at my house. The first meeting had about eight people and I was the first president”.

As she had already been in a garden club in Waimate and the original Bluff gardening club had ceased about two years previously, it was timely to restart it, she said.

Although the members had an interest in gardening, it was the friends they made along the way, and the fun they had, which had kept it going, as well as their common interest in vegetation. Chief steward Carol Baxter agreed. “That’s why I hunted out the garden club… I also wanted to make friends… and I have made some very good friends.”

With 20 members, mostly aged over 65, from Invercargill, Greenhills and Bluff, age and other commitments have caught up with them, promotions officer Paddy Rowe said.

“Our members are aging… and we have less members… and no one wants to put their hand up to be an office bearer… it’s a sign of the times.”

It had been an active club with outings to various garden-related places, including visiting a worm farm, various gardens throughout the region, hosting guest speakers and holding workshops and demonstrations.

Mrs Rowe said although the members were disappointed the club was soon to be disbanded, they had recognised their limitations.

“We would rather go out with a good one [show] than compromise our standards… our members are getting older and are no longer capable of doing all the physical labour” setting up the heavy tables, trestles and stands.

However, there is still the upcoming show to be hosted – their 16th. Mrs Baxter acknowledged “we still have to cope with the flower show… three days of solid work with tables, trestles, benches… stacking some quite high to create the right effect.”

With 123 categories and sections, and potentially hundreds of entries, the marae will be even more colourful and alive.

Current president Marilyn Clark, who had been in the role “on and off” for about 20 years said the flower show was the highlight for the club.

“It has always been very popular,” Mrs White said, having originally been held at the Bluff Rugby Club in 2004, before relocating to the school, then the town hall, with the marae as its base for the past four years.

Some of the more popular sections in the past had been the vegetable, flowers, baking and craft.

“It’s a show for everyone and all ages,” they agreed.

In acknowledgement of the assistance they had received with the heavy lifting to set up the shows and support throughout the years, Mrs Clark thanked “all our members, especially our husbands”.

And on the final day, as Mrs Baxter said, “there will be a few tears.”

Bluff Flower Show, Te Rau Aroha Marae, Bluff, February 9, noon-4.30pm, February 10, 11am-3pm. Entry, adults $3, children over 12 years 50 cents, under 12 free. Afternoon tea, raffles, sales table. Schedules at Bluff Library, Service centre and Bluff 4 Square.

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