Editor: Thank you, thank you, thank you—that’s what all the members of the Richmond Hill Garden Club are saying in response to the community’s support of last Saturday’s 18th Annual Pumpkin Patch. It was the biggest and best ever. More people came and more pumpkins left to find new homes throughout the community than at any of the previous Pumpkin Patches. The garden club is truly grateful to those who attended, those who helped us publicize and arrange the occasion, and those who volunteered at the event itself.
As always, the Pumpkin Patch was fun for everyone—parents, grandparents, friends, and, especially the youngsters. Many came in costume, romping among the pumpkins, climbing hay bales, hugging scarecrows, and finding that perfect, special pumpkin to take home. Families snapped picture after picture of youngsters playing or visiting the Pumpkin Fairy for a lollipop and a touch of her magic wand.
In truth, the Pumpkin Patch is a magical time for everyone, garden club members, their families, and the Richmond Hill community. Everyone who attended—young and old alike—seemed to enjoy eating the home-baked goodies, selecting home and yard décor, choosing huge mums, playing games, and having their faces painted.
And so, the RH Garden Club wants to thank the community for its support and to tell you what we do with our profits so that you will know why we work so hard holding Pumpkin Patch—and it is hard work and involves planning throughout the entire year.
The club has a long history of civic involvement, dating from its beginning in 1955. Its projects have multiplied and grown considerably since that time, when its focus was primarily on flower arranging techniques.
The club has planted and maintains a garden at Henderson Park. This area is an ongoing effort and is expanded each year. Bluebirds nest there, and butterflies flock to the blooming native plants. Nestled inside the garden is a lovely bench in honor of the club’s founder, Mrs. Frances Meeks. As you walk through the paths at the park, stop to rest on the bench and enjoy our spot of nature. Also the G-Team (Gardening Team) takes care of the beds at the front of the library, an area the team planted several years ago.
Each year the club participates in the Christmas Parade and distributes bulbs to children and adults along the parade route. As is our practice, this year the club will be giving away 1,500 daffodil bulbs with planting directions. Club members often hear stories from youngsters about their bulb from last year and how much they enjoyed the lovely yellow bloom.
Other gardening projects include giving away plants through the club’s Green Thumb Kids initiative. About 700 plants (every one that we had) were distributed at this year’s Pumpkin Patch. Other plants were distributed last spring at the Richmond Hill Farmer’s Market. Also, many plants were swapped or simply given away at the club’s Plant Exchange, an event held annually in April and open to the public. In recent years this event has been timed to occur on the same day as the kids fishing rodeo so that youngsters are able to take home plants along with their fish. Members see the plant with their fish. Members see the plant swap as an opportunity to give to the community, sharing the plants they love best propagated from their own gardens and fostering a love of gardening in everyone, especially children. Last year, the club also contributed $300 toward the permanent plant labels for the garden created at McAllister Elementary by a local Girl Scout troop.
The club also recognizes outstanding yards throughout the city and county through its Yard of the Month activity and includes a special holiday award in December. Judges rotate subdivisions so that everyone has an opportunity to win this honor. Winners receive gift certificates to Tim and Dave’s nursery.
Other contributions to the community are numerous. The club collects canned goods for and donates funds to the Way Station. It donates money and cat and dog food items to the Soup Kitchen. It contributes funds to the Bryan County Health and Rehabilitation facility. It collects toiletries to donate to the Reid House in Savannah. And it contributes financially to Family Promise locally.
To further its goal of increasing both literacy skills and knowledge of gardening and the outdoors, the club also purchases books for the library. These are for both adults and children. These appear in the "new books" section of the library and are collected in a special arrangement in early summer.
One of the club’s most important contributions is a $1,000 scholarship it donates each year to a student graduating from Richmond Hill High School and planning to major in any agricultura/plantl-related area such as horticulture, environmental science, or landscape design. This activity corresponds to a focus of the state Garden Club of Georgia. The club also participates in the Ronald McDonald Pull Tabs program.
Monthly meetings in September, November, January, February, March, and May feature a presentation related to gardening, environmental concerns, or the outdoors in general. These meeting, held at 10:00 on the second Wednesday of the month in the Wetlands Center in J. F. Gregory Park, are open to the public. The club sees this as a way to foster learning that will improve the community. November’s meeting (to be held this year in the Bottom’s Recreation Facility because of the election) will feature Susan Campanelli-Couto discussing how she has grown monarch butterflies this summer and fall, harvesting their caterpillars and releasing the newly hatched butterflies. The public is always welcome at their events.
The garden club maintains a Facebook page (Richmond Hill Garden Club) and will try to answer questions regarding plants and planting techniques. You’ll find some pictures of people enjoying the Pumpkin Patch on the page now. Alternatively, the club can be contacted by mail at P. O. Box 841, Richmond Hill, GA 31324.
The club would like to give a special thanks to the Park and Tree Department of the City of Richmond Hill for all their employees do to assure that the Pumpkin Patch is set up and to the Richmond Hill City Police for assuring the safety of our event from the time we start setting it up to the breakdown after the event is over. We depend on these two groups. I can’t say enough good things about both.
Each year’s Pumpkin Patch is held on the first Saturday in October. Check your calendars now and pencil in that date. We hope to see you next year with your cameras, your children, and your friends, ready to stroll through our patch to find pumpkins, mums, and decorative items and ready to enjoy face painting, games, and delicious food. In other words, we’re already looking forward to having fun with you again, thinking of how we can improve, what activities to add, what crafts to make. As I have often said, I’m not sure who has more fun—the garden club members, their families, and other volunteers who make Pumpkin Patch possible or the people who support the event by coming. Pumpkin Patch is indeed a magical time for all. Thanks so much for supporting us.
Past President, Richmond Hill Garden Club
Member of the 18th Annual Pumpkin Patch Team