A Note from our Presidents, Bonnie Sipe and Penelope West

2018-2019 Co-Presidents Bonnie Sipe and Penelope West and their Executive Committee

2018-2019 Co-Presidents Bonnie Sipe and Penelope West and their Executive Committee

Bonnie and I are now ending our journey as co-presidents of this remarkable garden club; and it’s time for our Annual Report, looking back over the year’s activities and interests. Program Chairs Wendy Brody and Paula McColl have brought us expert speakers who covered a wide range of subjects from history, horticulture, floral design and science. Our theme this past year (on the front page of the Yearbook) has been “Gardens are good for wildlife, for people, and for society,” and many of our Club’s activities have reflected this thought. The Horticulture committee, run by Eva Richman, Sharon Patel and Allison McGee, has given us beautiful displays of produce and plants that can thrive in our climate. They educated us on the important role gardeners can play by creating a welcoming habitat for wildlife in our gardens that will mitigate the damage being done to our environment.

The restorative and healing power of nature and gardens is now generally recognized. This spring our Healing Garden Committee, led by Jan Davis and Debi Nichols, undertook a major re-landscaping of the Healing Garden at Moores Cancer Center after last year’s damage due to adjacent construction. The color and harmony of the garden now invites patients, their families and staff to relax among nature. The power of plants to lift the spirit is also evident in the seasonal floral decorations created and delivered to the La Jolla VA Hospital by the Bouquet of Thanks Committee, led by Julia Sheldon assisted by Sandra Small, Nansea Wolff and Annette Ritchie Buis. In October, December, February and May, seasonal decorations were created and donated to approximately 150 hospitalized veterans, so they would not feel forgotten. The Jacaranda Committee, led by Linda Shaw and Jan Nelte, added beauty to public spaces. This past year they have funded 113 Jacaranda trees to be planted throughout the San Diego region, and they will hold their annual Dedication Ceremony in May.

The Schoolyard Gardening Grants Committee, headed by Sue Kalish and Leigh Hartman, dispensed $11,349 to 23 primary schools to support programs teaching young children how to grow and enjoy eating fresh vegetables. To help expand their support, Susan Vandendriesse developed a handsome newly-designed gardening apron whose sales will benefit the SGG Project. Susan Starr chaired the Field Trips committee, charged with focusing on San Diego. She gave us day-trips to four interesting and lesser known places in our local area, often with an emphasis on native plants. Cheryl Nichols has plans underway for a major trip next spring to Charleston/Savannah. Mary Ann and Sue Driscoll represented our Club in the Floral Association’s December Nights event by creating a Christmas tree meaningful for the young girls at the Girls Rehabilitation Facility. It was greatly appreciated.

The Holiday Pantry Sale chaired by Linda Morse displayed our Club’s culinary talents and raised about $1300. Robin Vandever continued her new project of collecting recipes and ideas for a VGCLJ cookbook on the theme of “Our Favorite Things.” Meanwhile the Magazine Library, the brainchild of Gaynor Pates, decided it was time to close shop and offered the timeless gardening magazines to members. They were quickly picked up! Expressions in Art and Flowers, chaired by Suzanne Barclay and Elaine Butz, was held in March with 32 interpretations of art with floral arrangements. Each display was photographed and posted on the web by our Photographic team led by Marge Palmer, Lisa Bartzokas and Dianne Holmes. Co-Chairs Elaine Bradbury and Gayle Eales located this spring’s tour of members’ gardens in Point Loma. Libby Levine, Elaine Butz, Carol Dickinson and Gayle Gould shared their beautiful gardens for a delightful day out.

Linda Bienhoff and Peggy Sbardellati organized instructive Workshops on gardening techniques and floral design. Karen White, with Master Gardeners, provided us with important information and resources. Clara Blenis and Suzanne Thomas encouraged the sharing of plants and anything garden related. Margaret Herrick and Linda Karpowich collected members’ small change to support the reforestation of the Cleveland National Forest. The Holiday luncheon chaired by Pat Lau was held at The Marine Room and enjoyed by 102 members and guests. The Spring luncheon, chaired by Margaret Dudas and Ann Hill, took the theme “How does your Garden Grow?” and will again display our members’ imaginative talents in organizing social events.

Our monthly meetings have been enlivened by the variety of offerings at our Market Place, led by Sue Kalish and Maureen McMahon. A huge success was the first Vintage Sale of members’ quality cast-offs. Members have also increased their use of Shop Amazon.com, thanks to Janet Mika’s persistent reminders. The positive results from these different branches of Ways & Means have helped our Club’s operating income show a healthy bottom line of approximately $5000. We are so very grateful to our Treasurer Cindy Lococo who with professional skill, has kept our finances in good order.

Our primary source of communication remains our monthly newsletter The Spindrifter, which is skillfully produced by the editorial team of Lynn Jewell, Nancy Palmtag, Catherine Fraser and Donna McClay; and supplemented by e-blasts from Gail Dill when information is time-sensitive. Our beautiful website is continuously updated to cover all our activities, and includes the current Yearbook, past newsletter and online membership renewals. We are so fortunate to have the special skills of our webmaster, Sara Carpenter. The use of modern technology has made the work of many of our committees much easier. Sheryl Lester chairing Refreshments and Jan Davis with the Healing Garden, have used the online SignUpGenius to recruit their volunteers. More members are receiving their newsletter electronically, with fewer newsletters to be printed and mailed.

Yearbook editors, Mercedes Bartolomei Penner, Kate Engler, Donna McClay and Donna Koziol had our yearbook ready for the Governing Board’s August meeting. Our comprehensive yearbook explains with clarity everything about our Club. And with help from Kitty Spence, it was submitted to CGCI for an Award. Dodie Williams keeps track of our membership, distributing the yearbooks and organizing the sign-in. Prior to our first meeting of the year, the New Members Tea was held at the home of Barbara Doren to welcome and let new members know what highlights to expect during the year. Mary McSweeney and her committee organized the party with delicious refreshments. Many people, such as Susan Maggio (Set Up) and Alida Bracker (Take Down) worked behind the scenes to see that our meetings run smoothly and provide an attractive setting for friends to meet in the social hour. Ann Hill organized beautiful floral centerpieces for the Refreshment tables which were laden with delicious food, thanks to Sheryl Lester. Barbara Doren and Susan Johnson greeted members and provided gifts for our nametag drawing. Kim Devoe took Guest registration.

Bonnie and I appreciate all the help and cooperation we have received during our tenure. We may have presided as presidents these past two years but you, our members, are truly the heart and soul of our Club; and we thank you for all the enthusiasm and creative energy you bring to the life of our Club.

Penelope West and Bonnie Sipe, Co-Presidents