Sandi Marr, DHS Recording Secretary
“Dunnville Horticulture Society is the best kept secret in town!” remarked one of our members at a recent gathering. The “secret” is getting out. Without a doubt, 215 horticultural members in small town of approximately 12,000 people is remarkable. The Dunnville Horticultural Society (DHS) was established in 1929. We have a rich and deeply valued presence in our community.
Recently, our growth and achievements were recognized at District 9 Annual General Meeting. We were honored and pleased to be awarded the “Doris Lightheart Award” for the largest increase in membership in our district for 2015. We actually had the largest increase for all of Ontario. We acheived almost a 60% increase in membership in 2015, and we are on track for an additional 15% growth in 2016. Clearly, we have an exceptionally strong society and our presence in Dunnville gets bigger every year.
To what do we attribute our strength and vitality? People and programs are the backbone of our society. We have devoted and faithful life members, new members, young and old members. Our committed board of directors and executive leads the way with vision, energy, and by example. Many other volunteers work hard “behind the scenes” to carry out the dreams of the board.
DHS is known for our creation and care of public flower beds and planters throughout the town of Dunnville. These beds and planters are outstanding in every season and welcome visitors and residents. Truly they speak of the great pride and hard work of society members. We nurture strong partnerships formed with the many other service groups in Dunnville, enabling us to complete many large scale projects.
Our monthly program nights are lively and well attended with 80-100 people. Everyone is friendly and hospitable as we come together to share gardening knowledge, questions, and even blunders. Our speakers are planned a year in advance and present relevant topics to educate and inform. Our evenings are full of laughter and fun, not to mention delicious refreshments and “Ways & Means” free recycled garden items. We endeavour to keep our business “short and sweet” while informing everyone of important discussion items.
The annual Lions Spring Home, Garden and Craft Show is one of our best forms of advertisement. We use this venue to promote who we are and what we do. Many visitors stop by our booth for conversation or to attend a “Mini Gardening Demonstration.” It has been just the last two years at this event that we have focused our efforts on a membership drive that resulted in the Doris Lightheart Award.
Our “town famous” plant sale is another opportunity for visibilty in our community. Donations are accepted from members and non-members and clearly labeled with the plant’s name, colour and sun/shade requirements. There is a plant for everyone—-even outdoor garden art for those without a green thumb!
Planting and maintaining Dunnville’s flowerbeds is what our society is all about. Each year the town looks better and better. A volunteer sign-up sheet is quickly filled and town planting is completed in 3-4 hours. Many hands make light work. Over 200 flats of annuals are donated by a local greenhouse. This is also a great opportunity for high school students to earn some volunteer hours.
Of course, there are other “perks” for members of the DHS. For example, this year we are hosting a bus trip to the beautiful Niagara region to tour some wineries and gardens. A sommelier will be joining us to make this experience more informative. We are also offering “Garden Tours” for members. 8 exceptional gardens of our members will be on display. This is a self-directed tour with beverages offered at each garden. Members are invited to bring their own “picnic lunch” and take time to sit and enjoy the gardens. Of course, member discounts at garden centres, seed exchanges, flower and vegetable shows, photo competitions, rose draws, and our annual potluck Christmas Celebration are just a few more reasons why everyone likes to belong to DHS.
Gardening is for young and old alike. We are grateful for our many senior members who faithfully support the activities of the DHS. Recently, three of our life members were honored with the Ontario Volunteer Service Award for over 30 years of service with the DHS. We value the collective wisdom and experience of those who have been with us for many years. Our Junior Gardeners Program encourages children to discover the joy of gardening and showcase their green thumbs. This year they will be creating scarecrows from the veggies they grow throughout the summer.
With gratitude, we celebrate both our rich history of over 87 years in the community and we look with vision into the future. Our goal is to continue to be a vibrant, growing and caring community of people who make our town of Dunnville a more beautiful place.