Fall colors. They are everywhere as leaves start to turn, the sky is a vivid blue and flowers are in full bloom. It is the last big ‘hurrah’ before the starkness of winter. It is the season when we need to enjoy and appreciate nature’s beauty.
Helping create some of that beauty in Morris is the Pomme de Terre (PDT) Garden Club. The club was organized in February of 1953 and Clarice Yerigan was the first president. Their aim or mission is to create an interest and promote an appreciation for conservation and horticulture for all ages.
The PDT garden club maintains and plants the bed by the post office and the library grounds including the gazebo. At the post office they plant annuals in May that are red, white, and blue. These plants include petunias, salvias and other plants that seem to fit into the color scheme. There are also some shrubs and perennials in front of the post office that require yearly maintenance.
The gazebo bed in front of the library received a makeover in the fall of 2020. The perennials there had become overgrown and crowded so the club felt it needed a new look to include simplicity and less maintenance. Max’s Landscaping was hired to refine the design and it is now easier to maintain with color throughout the summer.
The club also supports the parking lot project behind the City Center Mall, which one of the members has taken on.
Each spring the club holds a work day to plant the beds. They purchase the plants, prepare the bed by amending the soil with compost, and then do the planting. Once the planting is completed, three to four members are assigned to a month during the summer months to weed, water and maintain all the beds.
When fall arrives, another work day is scheduled, usually in mid-October to clean off and prepare the beds for winter. For the last couple years, the club has partnered with a Girl Scout Troop for the fall cleanup. This is a great way to work together with the youth, teach them and involve others in the community.
To help support and promote the gardens, club members hold two plant sales each year. For the last two years the spring sale in May was held at the American Legion. The fall sale, in September, is usually held at Eastside Park in Morris. The plant sales include divisions from their own perennial gardens, annuals (spring), houseplants, and miscellaneous garden items. The spring sale in the past has included numerous single potted perennial mums, although the spring of 2021 did not, since the supplier was out.
Some people in the community have been very generous in donating some of their extra plants that need dividing or to be cleaned out of their garden for the club to sell. The club will also accept monetary donations to help cover the yearly expense of purchasing plants.
PDT Club president Kathy Bahr loves the gardens in summer which is her favorite season. “I love to see all of the blooming flowers after our spring labor,” Bahr explained. “This year was a challenging year with the lack of moisture. After much TLC and watering, July came and no one would have known the struggles the plants had started out with including wind and extremely hot weather from the beginning. They were beautiful.”
Bahr added that the club is always looking for new members. They currently have 17 active members, 2 of which are master gardeners. They also have 5 honorary members who are previous members who are included on the roster but not active in the club. Amongst the group there are many sources of knowledge. To join you can contact her at 320-287-2402 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The club does more than just plant and maintain the gardens. They have a summer day trip which involves traveling to a garden or two away from the area. They have toured flower farms, a pumpkin patch/apple orchard, an arboretum and gardens at a University. There are a lot of great conversation and learning avenues among the members on these trips.
The club meets once a month at 5:15 p.m. at the Morris Public Library, usually on the 4th Thursday. There are monthly speakers on garden topics and they do collect dues which includes a subscription to The Northern Gardener magazine. Any age, male or female, can join the club.
In a desire to become more noticeable in the community, the club has had a booth at the KMRS Spring Expo where they have sponsored some hands-on projects and interesting speakers. Also in the spring of 2021, they had a booth at the RFC for a special event where they sold clay pots filled with pansies.
The club is one of the five clubs that belongs to the Heart of the Prairie Tenth District Horticulture Society. Their gardener’s creed is what the club focuses on each new year: “We believe a garden will bring us more than vegetables and flowers. We believe it will bring us contentment, relaxation, kind thoughts, peace of mind and joy in pleasant work and achievement.”
These are words we can all reflect on now as we gaze at the beauty created by the dedicated members of the Pomme de Terre Garden Club.