The following is an interview with Ginny von Rueden, president of the Driftwood Garden Club conducted by Discover Marblehead. To learn more about the club and their activities, go to driftwoodgardenclub.org.
Tell us about the Driftwood Garden Club and how the organization got started. The Driftwood Garden Club was founded in 1952 as a volunteer, non-profit organization by a group of women in Marblehead who were looking to offer a social service making and delivering floral arrangements to hospitals and dwellers of tenement buildings in Boston. Throughout the ensuing years, the club engaged in many different civic beautification projects including sprucing up town properties for the bicentennial in 1976.
What are some of the gardening projects you work on in Marblehead? In 1990, Abbot Public Library did a building renovation and club members saw an opportunity to create beautiful gardens in what had been a construction debris dump site, so the library grounds became our main civic project. Within the brick walls, the Secret Garden came to life offering a space for quiet retreat and a safe haven for children. Max’s Garden and an aquarium garden followed a few years later bringing much enjoyment to children and their families visiting the library. In 2018, the Old Marblehead Improvement Association presented the club with an award for “Outstanding Non-Profit Organization” in Marblehead. For over 30 years, the club has continued to renovate, plant and maintain all the outdoor landscaped areas of the library property using funds we raise at our annual plant sale in May. While the library is closed during the current renovation project, the club is providing landscaping and garden maintenance help at Farrell Court for the elderly and disabled residents who live there. We also recently planted hundreds of daffodils at Memorial Park.
What are some of the programs and events the club works on throughout the year? Are there any events coming up soon we should know about? During the months we cannot work outside, the club offers a wide variety of educational programs presented by garden experts. We also join with the other garden clubs in town to decorate the King Hooper Mansion of the Marblehead Arts Association for the holidays in December. In the summer months, some of our members make floral arrangements for the Marblehead Museum’s Lee Mansion. Before our plant sale on May 13 at the Masonic Hall (8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.), club members will join in “Dig and Divide,” when we take plants from gardens all over town to offer them to the public.
What are the benefits of being a member of Driftwood Garden Club? And how does one become a member? We have a wonderful website people can visit at driftwoodgardenclub.org that lists all our programs and fun events as well as information about becoming a member. Member benefits include making many new friends while working together to provide beautification of our town properties. Our popular social events include the annual cocktail party with spouses and partners, special workshops to learn flower arranging and DIY projects, and participating in travel opportunities to visit gardens elsewhere. For our 65th and 70th birthdays, the club celebrated with two trips to England to experience stunning gardens and the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show.
As the current President, why is the Driftwood Garden Club so important to you? As historian and current president, I have thoroughly enjoyed my many years in the Driftwood Garden Club. I have learned so much about gardening and environmental issues and made lifelong friends with a love for making the world more beautiful. What better way to enjoy life than getting our hands dirty in the garden, having fun learning about the natural world, and socializing with old and new friends while offering service to our beloved community of Marblehead?
The business spotlight is a weekly feature published in partnership with Discover Marblehead. Discover Marblehead is dedicated to the promotion of our majestic seaside town of Marblehead. Its mission is to highlight local businesses, tourism, community events and attractions through social media, email marketing and community outreach. To learn more, visit discovermhd.com.
Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.