By Lynette Norris
Greene Publishing, Inc.
As Dolly Ballard circulated among the Easter-decorated tables, greeting everyone present and welcoming special guests, it suddenly dawned on her that this was the last month she would be doing this. New officers have already been elected, and will be installed at next month’s meeting, May 5. “I’m out of office! The months have flown by!”
The Garden Club has had a busy month, attending the March 21-22 Legislative Days with the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, preparations for Down Home Days, getting ready for their flower show, and of course, planting those spring gardens, now that spring is in the air.
Club member Marianne Green reported on the trip to Perry, where they met members from the Perry Garden Club as well as Florida Federation of Garden Clubs President, Carol Hall. The group, including Dolly Ballard, Nell Ring and Betty Monzac, met to discuss clean-water issues and bills being considered by the Florida Legislature that could affect Florida’s water supply. While in Perry, they toured the automated Buckeye Cellulose facility where experts explained the wide range of different products obtained from pine tree cellulose. Additionally, Buckeye officials showed them the bio-fuel pilot project they are working on with the University of Florida, and afterward hosted a boat trip on the Fenholloway River to show the results of the river clean-up.
The next day, the group boarded a bus to Tallahassee, where they met with Florida legislators Sen. Bill Montford, Rep. Joe Gibbons and others, including Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam. Following the stop at the Capitol, they traveled to the Governor’s Mansion, where they met First Lady Ann Scott and were treated to a tour.
Back in Madison, club members have been equally busy. Lura Fine has been overseeing, at her own expense, the creation of the Garden Club float for Madison’s Down Home Days Parade, Saturday, April 16.
Other club members have continued with their ongoing work with the Pinetta 4H Club, the Boys and Girls Club, and the Pinetta Elementary School children.
The guest speaker for the meeting, Dan Gerencser of Nobles Greenhouse in Live Oak, continued with the earlier theme of protecting and conserving Florida’s water supply and aquifer. Originally from Pennsylvania, Gerencser moved to Madison 15 years ago, and was quite surprised at the difference between the dark loamy soil of Pennsylvania and the sandy ground here that allows chemicals to leach straight down to the underground water supply. After some experimentation, he developed a system of “common sense gardening,” which he explained as a combination of not wasting water through over-watering (also the most frequent way plants are killed), using drought-tolerant plants (xeriscaping), and using tough native plants such as palmetto and cast iron plants that have evolved to withstand Florida’s heat and humidity without a lot of chemical help.
Gerencser had brought several flowering plants from Nobles Greenhouse as an example of common sense, low-maintenance plants that still bring color and beauty to a garden. Some of his examples were also good at attracting butterflies and humming birds. “Dolly told me to bring a lot of pretty things,” he said. “And they’ll all be on sale afterward.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, he did a brisk business selling most of the beautiful plants he had brought with him.
Dolly Ballard Leads Final Meeting As President Of Madison Garden Club
By Lynette Norris