For some, gardening is a hobby. For the members of the Dogwood District Garden Clubs, it’s activism.
Organized in 1988, the club maintains several community gardens, including one for monarch butterflies at an elementary school and a bluebird trail in Alvaton.
Susan Throneberry of Alvaton has been involved with the Two Creeks Garden Club, one of Warren County’s three clubs, for 25 years and currently presides over the Dogwood District, which includes 13 clubs in the region, in cities such as Louisville, Scottsville and Bowling Green. Before she joined, her grandmother was a member of the Garden Club of Kentucky in the 1950s.
“I’ve always had a love for gardening,” Throneberry said. “The garden club is more than that. It’s about the ecology, for us to be aware of what we can do to make the world a better place.”
Jo Jean Scott is a longtime Bowling Green resident and avid gardener. She joined the Bowling Green Garden Club 28 years ago and loves it for its close ties with environmental causes.
The Bowling Green club has 35 members, plus six associate and two honorary members, Scott said. Together, they work on businesses and projects, as well as fundraising efforts such as a fairy garden tour, which takes place the first Sunday in June. The intended audience for the tour is children and local homeowners, some of whom have fairy gardens themselves.
Scott said one of the reasons the garden club works so hard to engage the public is to spread awareness of “the things of nature that make this wonderful world so attractive and such a great place to live.”
One of the main causes of the garden club is youth engagement, Throneberry said. The Two Creeks Garden Club sponsors the Junior Garden Club, an organization for Alvaton Elementary sixth graders that holds monthly meetings, often with guest speakers and lessons on proper plant care and other gardening skills. The initiatives at the elementary school serve to educate the near-700 students and faculty members about conservationism.
Located at Alvaton Elementary school is the Monarch Way Station, a garden planted to nourish the butterflies with milkweed, their primary food source, and counteract the population decrease the species has seen in recent years. In 2016, the American monarch butterfly population had decreased by 68 percent in the past 22 years, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Two Creeks also established the Bluebird Trail. Throneberry said the trail exists to re-establish the bluebird, which has fallen from prominence in years of industrialization, in the Alvaton area by placing bird houses along the trail for nesting.
Alvaton has changed from agricultural to more commercial, Throneberry said, which has brought a residential boom, impacting bluebirds’ abilities to find nesting places. The Bluebird Trail now has about 22 boxes.
“We are concerned about ecology and want to make sure that nature has a place to live and to feed,” said Throneberry.
Those interested in joining a garden club can email Susan Throneberry at [email protected] for information about meeting dates, times and locations.
Features reporter Sarah Yaacoub can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]