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La Jolla Garden Club awards horticulture scholarships at annual lunch

Horticultural students Carly Bethune, Holly Boyce and Patricia Welling stand with the La Jolla Garden Club's Mary Yoder.
Scholarship-winning horticultural students Carly Bethune and Holly Boyce from MiraCosta College and Patricia Welling from Cuyamaca College stand with La Jolla Garden Club scholarship chairwoman Mary Yoder. Winner Aundrea Williams is not pictured.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With the smell of French lavender and the joyful chatter of reunited friends in the air, the La Jolla Garden Club held its scholarship luncheon at the La Jolla Country Club on May 17 — the first since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago.

The event served as the annual member luncheon and an opportunity to dole out scholarships to people exploring the horticultural field.

Throughout the year, the club raises money through membership dues and events to create scholarships for students from Southwestern, MiraCosta and Cuyamaca community colleges in San Diego County.

That’s in addition to projects intended to beautify La Jolla, including maintaining the corner patio at Wisteria Cottage on Prospect Street, where the club installed a bench and planters, and delivering flower arrangements to places like the La Jolla/Riford Library.

La Jolla Garden Club officers include Ina Thompson, Natalie Crain, Patty Glynn, Karen Weir, Bonnie Zoe Winn and Jan Morris.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The scholarship winners this year are Aundrea Williams from Southwestern College, Patricia Welling from Cuyamaca College and Carly Bethune and Holly Boyce from MiraCosta College. The club did not disclose the amount of their awards.

In introducing the winners, Mary Mitchell, a past president of the La Jolla Garden Club, said, “We’re delighted to have you here and we’re so glad we could help you, in some small way, further your education so you can continue your commitment to the field we all love.”

Williams, who was not at the lunch, is the mother of two young children whose horticultural interest is agriculture, Mitchell said. “She works outside her school commitments in a community garden in City Heights … which was one of the first refugee community gardens in the country and is now 10 years old,” Mitchell added.

Williams also volunteers with other nonprofits and has won awards for her involvement. She hopes to have her own farm someday, Mitchell said.

Mary Mitchell addresses the La Jolla Garden Club during its scholarship luncheon May 17 at the La Jolla Country Club.
Past La Jolla Garden Club President Mary Mitchell addresses the group during its scholarship luncheon May 17 at the La Jolla Country Club.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Welling’s interest in horticulture stemmed partly from spending time in a garden while her military husband was on deployment. Also, her current property had a coastal live oak that was diseased and had to be removed.

That encouraged her interest in finding out what plant life needs.

“She has an emotional connection to what she is learning about,” Mitchell said.

Welling, now a grandmother and part-time student, teaches her grandchildren about gardening.

“She has a particular love for native plants … and wants to work for her community with the hope that beautifying the community will bring more pride to the citizens there,” Mitchell said.

Bethune has 20 years of horticultural experience, including retail plant sales and design, but recently decided she wanted a degree in the field, hoping to teach and mentor other students and help other women progress in horticulture, Mitchell said.

Bethune’s interests include California native plants, landscaping and commercial nursery work. She wants to start an urban micro-farm, which she described as “a very tiny farm in an urban environment.” She said she hopes to turn her quarter-acre backyard into a grove of foods to “feed our family and … feed our neighbors’ families as well.”

Boyce, a work-study student who has a family history of farming in Nebraska and Georgia, did a lot of hiking in the woods as a child and picked a lot of edible plants, Mitchell said.

“Now she’s interested in subsistence farming and … is getting her associate degree in agriculture and is getting certified in nursery crop production.”

The La Jolla Garden Club meets for lunch at the La Jolla Country Club.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

The La Jolla Garden Club was established in 1968 and meets monthly from September to May. Members and visitors exchange ideas and experiences, and speakers provide insights on various garden topics. The meetings recently were moved back to in person after being held online during the pandemic.

Learn more at lajollagardenclub.org. ◆