Holly Springs Garden Club  Holly Springs, North Carolina  
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History of the Holly Springs Garden Club

Realizing the potential for a garden club in the growing Holly Springs area, Sabrina Thompson, Bass Lake Park Naturalist, put out a call in early 2005 for people interested in gardening. She received an overwhelming response. People gathered for the first meeting of the Holly Springs Garden Club in February 2005 at the Bass Lake Park & Retreat Center, 900 Bass Lake Road. The Holly Springs Garden Club was officially established in March 2005 with election of officers and 29 charter members. A partnership was formed with Bass Lake Park. The park provided a beautiful lakeside meeting place and helped with publicity; the garden club committed to assisting in the ongoing restoration and beautification of the park including new plantings, plant bed maintenance and other related projects.  The Holly Springs Garden Club became a member of the Garden Club of North Carolina  in April 2005. The Holly Springs Garden Club joined with the largest charter membership of any member and went on to win a first place award for its yearbook “Fresh Journeys.”  In keeping with its mission statement, the Holly Springs Garden Club created a Memory Garden along the Bass Lake trail early in 2006. With garden designer Susan Campbell (park assistant and naturalist) at the drawing board, the proposed garden area included a bench and circular walkway.  As an anchor for the Memory Garden and in memory of charter member Gwen Dowd, a red maple tree was planted in the spring of 2006.  A stone wall encircling the maple tree was constructed in the fall of 2006. Other components were gradually added to the site, including a bench, a walkway paved with natural stone, plant designation signs, and a Memory Garden sign.  After an enthusiastic beginning and three extremely successful years, membership began to decline.  However, in November 2008, six dedicated members stepped up and took on the leadership of the club.  The new enthusiastic officers, with Jeremy Schmidt (Research Horticulturist at Plant Delights Nursery) as president, provided stimulating programs over the next two years, successfully increasing the club membership. Holly Springs Garden Club members gathered in the memory garden for an “inaugural planting ceremony” in early October 2010. Trees, shrubs and perennial plants were donated by local residents in memory or honor of friends, loved ones or pets. A Memory Book was placed at the park office reception desk to contain photos and memories of honorees as well as the plants that were donated in their name. The Memory Garden, located along a woodchip path that meanders around the lake, provides a quiet place to pause and enjoy the natural wonders of Bass Lake. All plants used in the Memory Garden are native to North Carolina, consistent with the natural plant materials located in the park, Tony Avent - world renowned horticulturist, popular author, captivating speaker – spoke before a packed audience at the Holly Springs Cultural Center. Tony, owner of Plant Delights Nursery and Juniper Level Botanic Gardens in Raleigh, has been on over 60 plant exploration trips around the world. He has introduced over 500 new plant cultivars and grown over 19,000 different types of plants in his gardens. His presentation was titled:  EXPLORATION TO EXPLOITATION - How Plants Make Their Way from the Wild to Market. Holly Springs Garden Club members participated in endangered plant rescue excursions in the local Holly Springs area. A most memorable one was in April 2012 when native woodland plants were found and “rescued” before construction began at the Holly Springs Towne Center site near the intersection of New Hill Road and Highway 55.  HSGC began a community vegetable garden in February 2012 in the back yard of the Holly Springs Food Cupboard, 621 W. Holly Springs Road, which had been purchased in 2011. Volunteers from the community, local businesses, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, and the Food Cupboard worked side by side with HSGC members to design, build, maintain, harvest and distribute vegetables from this very unique garden.  The Holly Springs Garden Club launched its first website (created by web designer Carole Hamilton) in May 2013, and also launched its first Facebook page (managed by entomologist Jerry DeWitt). The Food Cupboard vegetable garden was expanded to more than double in size, and an herb garden was created. Volunteers were encouraged to learn while working, as innovative growing techniques were developed and demonstrated by entomologist Jerry DeWitt, formerly at Iowa State University, After the vegetables were harvested, washed, and prepared for distribution to Food Cupboard clients, they were weighed. The harvest goal of 1000 pounds was surpassed well before the end of the 2013 growing season. The Holly Springs Garden Club was invited to set up a "Garden Chat" booth at the Holly Springs Farmers Market on the 3rd Saturday of each month, and member Ken Henke stepped up to manage the project. Holly Springs Garden Club members toured Jeremy Schmidt’s magnificent home garden.  Descriptiive words heard from attendees: • amazing • fabulous • spectacular • lush • enchanting Holly Springs Garden Club member Joe Hadala designed and built a new shed extension at the Food Cupboard vegetable garden. Holly Springs Garden Club member Ken Henke starts a new pollinator garden  at the Holly Springs Food Cupboard entrance driveway. The garden was prepared by garden club members and community volunteers, and plants were donated by garden club members. A retaining wall was added in 2016 by volunteer scouts. Holly Springs Garden Club members first  weed and prune overgrown plants, then plant fall flowers and add mulch  in two workdays at Bass Lake Park entrance gardens in prep for October 1st Bass Lake Day community event.
Jan  2005 Feb  2005 Mar  2005 April  2005 Feb  2006 May  2006 Fall  2006 Nov  2008 Oct  2010 Sept  2011 April   2012 Feb   2012 May  2013 Spring  2013 Sept  2013 May  2014
Presidents of the Club: past & present  2005-2007 Jennifer Dobridge 2008-2010 Jeremy Schmidt 2011-2012 Ken Henke 2013-2016 Stephanie Bertsche 2017-Present Jerry DeWitt
June  2014 July  2014 Oct  2015 Sep 2016