For eight decades the Bay-Waveland Garden Club organization has rolled up their sleeves and worked to help educate and beautify their communities.
- story by Denise Jacobs
“A lot of people have a misconception about garden clubs, but we really are an educational organization,” says Lana Noonan, secretary and publicity chair. “We have speakers once a month on an educational topic, from one end of the spectrum to another.
“We also roll up our sleeves up and work.”
If it blossoms, buzzes, or breathes, it likely falls under the floral parasol of the Garden Club’s mission, which is to advance gardening of all sorts, including backyard and youth gardens, to further city beautification and the conservation of air, water, and soil quality, and the protection of native trees, shrubs, pollinators, and birds.
Under this broad mission statement, being a member can be as simple as putting something in your backyard that provides shelter—a tree, a bird house, bird bath, or bird seed. “Our members do just that,” says Noonan. “We roll up our sleeves and work.”
While Garden Club members can and do happily work alone, they also play well with others. The club has partnered with a bevy of organizations, from the Bay St. Louis Rotary Club to the Hancock County Historical Society (in collaborative efforts to save, document, and register aged oak trees).
The members of the Bay/Waveland Garden Club take their efforts beyond the borders of the traditional flower or vegetable plot. Historically, the club’s projects have included home and garden tours; the annual Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage; anti-litter campaigns; a Christmas lighting decoration contest; an annual Spring Flower Show; and Arbor Day with the planting of trees at local schools, libraries, hospitals, Stennis Airport, and the Bay/Waveland Yacht Club, among others.
The club’s work to encourage the gardeners of tomorrow has included presentations and projects at local schools—public and private—the Boys and Girls Club, and a clean-up collaboration with local Boy Scouts.
In the 70s and 80s, Mrs. John Holmes led Girl Scout Troop #27 to win the Gulf Pines Council Certificate - twice. In 1972, the Bay/Waveland Garden Club won the National Helen Hussey Champlin Award for outstanding service in promotion of gardening among youth.
A document commemorating the first 50 years of the Bay/Waveland Garden Club on the website of the Hancock County Historical Society identifies the organization of the Garden Club Youth Group in 1964 as “the project with the most heart.”
Mrs. Rene deMontluzin organized the first youth group with 31 girls. It was followed by the OLG Busy Bees and Lazy Daisies, the Sunshine Gardeners, and the St. Joseph’s Academy Red Birds.
A glance at the headings of Sea Coast Echo coverage of the Bay/Waveland Garden Club tells the larger story:
As is apparent, even as the Bay/Waveland Garden Club turns 80, it wears work gloves as easily as white gloves.
Might you like to join? The club welcomes seasoned gardeners and novices alike. The meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month from September through May at the Old Town Presbyterian Church in Bay St. Louis. A "Coffee Social" begins at 9:30 a.m., and the meeting is at 10:00 a.m. Meetings are open to the public, and guests are always welcome. You just have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work!