Gar­den club mark­ing 71 years

Bay News - - NEWS - By San­dra Conchie

Pa¯pa¯moa Gar­den Cir­cle has a proud his­tory as the old­est gar­den­ing club in the Tau­ranga dis­trict, and next month cel­e­brates its 71st birth­day.

Pres­i­dent Fern Twi­dle said the club was formed on Oc­to­ber 18, 1947 by a group of 14 young pi­o­neer­ing women who, along with their chil­dren, used to travel from farm to farm in Pa¯pa¯moa Hills.

Fern says in the early postWorld War II days, the gar­den­ing cir­cle­was a great op­por­tu­nity for iso­lated women to get to­gether to fos­ter friend­ships and ex­change plants.

“Some mem­bers used to catch the train from Tau­ranga down to the Kairua sta­tion for meet­ings, and it was how you were able to get to know your neigh­bours bet­ter.”

Fast for­ward 71 years, and the gar­den­ing cir­cle­with its 80-strong mem­ber­ship, which in­cluded up to four men, was a flour­ish­ing and ac­tive group, says Fern, who has been club pres­i­dent for two years and a mem­ber for 11 years.

She says fos­ter­ing friend­ships was still key to the club’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Some of those friend­ships have lasted decades.”

Mem­bers get to­gether at the Gor­don Spratt Re­serve off Par­ton Rd on the sec­ond Wed­nes­day of each month, ex­clud­ing De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, to ex­change cut­tings, gar­den­ing tips and en­joy lots of “great Green-thumbed Fern Twi­dle, the pres­i­dent of the Pa¯pa¯moa Gar­den Cir­cle, says be­ing part of such a friendly and in­clu­sive group of peo­ple helps to lift the spir­its.

chats”.

There were also sales ta­bles and monthly com­pe­ti­tions for the best veg­eta­bles, flow­ers, and dec­o­ra­tive ar­range­ments, and guest speak­ers— of­ten from gar­den cen­tres.

“Each Jan­uarywe have a gar­den ram­ble vis­it­ing each other’s gar­dens and that was some­thing the­mem­bers al­ways look for­ward to.”

Mem­bers came from di­verse

back­grounds, Fern says.

Some live in re­tire­ment vil­lages, in­clud­ing the old­est mem­ber, Joan Gor­ringe, who had turned 100 this year.

Each year the club also takes a bus trip to visit gar­dens which are out of the dis­trict and next month, 45 of the cir­cle’s mem­bers will head to the hope re­gion.

Fern says new mem­bers from any­where in thewider Tau­ranga dis­trict were al­ways wel­come to

join, no­mat­ter a per­son’s gar­den­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We’re only too happy to share our knowl­edge with new­com­ers who will find we’re a fun, friendly so­cial bunch of peo­ple,” she said. “Gar­den­ing is a very ther­a­peu­tic ac­tiv­ity, and you know, if you’re hav­ing a bad day there is noth­ing bet­ter for the soul than get­ting out in the gar­den and pulling out a few weeds.”

PHOTO/ An­drew Warner

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