Village Garden Club remains resilient, fruitful
Village Garden Club of La Jolla
- Meets the fourth Thursday of each month, September through May (dates may vary in November and December)
- Torrey Pines Christian Church
- 8320 La Jolla Scenic Drive North, La Jolla
By Ray M. Wong
With wildfires decimating San Diego County, Ann Craig, president of the Village Garden Club of La Jolla, thought of canceling the nonprofit’s monthly meeting in October 2007 - the club has members throughout the county and much of East County was engulfed in flames.
Craig decided to hold the meeting because even if only a few people showed up, it would allow them to be together. It turned out to be one of the most attended meetings they ever held.
“I couldn’t believe it - I got up on stage for the meeting, and I looked out and the room was overflowing,” Craig said. “I think it was just that people know that there’s companionship and it’s around a common topic, a positive topic. It was a very, very hard time for the county and for our club, but we came to be together that morning.”
That’s one of the things Craig appreciates about the Village Garden Club of La Jolla - people coming together, sharing their knowledge and expertise, educating each other and helping the community.
Craig has been the club’s president since April 2007 and a member since 2001. She had been living in Washington, D.C., and inherited a house in La Jolla.
The San Diego Historical Society chose to decorate her house to conduct fundraising tours for their organization. The Village Garden Club planted her garden for this exhibit and invited her to join. Craig needed to learn about West Coast gardening so it was a perfect match.
The club was formed in 1974 and has five objectives: promote horticulture, increase knowledge of the artistic use of plant material (floral design), sponsor civic projects, further conservation of natural resources and wildlife, and preserve and beautify the environment.
The club holds a monthly meeting at Torrey Pines Christian Church. The programs at the meeting are the main focus of the membership and feature expert guest presenters on topics such as horticulture, landscape design and floral design.
On March 5, the guest speaker will be Preston Bailey, an event designer in New York City who has worked with clients such as Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey, Uma Thurman and Joan Rivers.
The club has a Schoolyard Gardening Grants Committee that gives out $10,000 in grants annually to public and private elementary schools that have a curriculum built around a garden theme.
Since 1986, the club’s Jacaranda Committee has planted 1,400 Jacaranda trees throughout San Diego County including La Jolla High School, La Jolla Elementary, Mount Soledad Park and La Jolla United Methodist Church.
The club is also involved in the Torrey Pines State Reserve Native Plant Restoration Project. Volunteers meet once a month under the guidance of a park ranger to remove non-native invasive plants and reintroduce native plants into these areas. Since fall 2004, they have transformed five acres of land.
The club’s Penny Pines Reforestation Project plants 350 saplings in the Cleveland National Forest for each $68 member donation.
It also sponsors a monthly floral design workshop separate from its regular monthly meeting, and members take part in field trips to nurseries, members’ gardens and sites such as the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
Connie Brown, the immediate past president of Village Garden Club, is astounded by the participation of the membership.
“This is probably the most active club you could find,” Brown said. “We have 400 members, and 200 to 250 people will be at a meeting. The energy that they put into the club is like no other organization.”