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Friendships formed around love of gardening at East Austin Garden Club

More than just flowers and vegetables bring together a close-knit, local garden group. Friendship and a sense of community bloom for the members of the East Austin Garden Club, which usually meets the fourth Saturday of the month, often at the Austin Community College Eastview Campus on Webberville Road.

About eight people – members and visitors – attended a recent morning meeting that lasted about an hour, though many lingered afterward over a lovely spread of snacks, from fruit to sandwiches to chips and more.

The formal meeting, led by the president Ruth Godine, included a devotional, financial report, discussion of upcoming events (such as the Christmas celebration and a spring garden festival) and a bit of sharing about garden hints and ideas.

Helen Dailey, for example, said she recently got a dog and she had researched the safety of landscaping with gravel stones, when a pet is in the yard. Dailey, a South Austinite who has been a member for about four years, said she enjoys meeting others and “hearing their stories about gardening and other things.”

About a half-dozen people usually attend meetings, said Godine, who has been a member about 15 years.

The club formed in 1980, when Celia Pearson held an organizational meeting in her home, according to a brief history printed in the “East Austin Garden Club Cookbook.”

The history says, “The twelve charter members immediately began working on Club goals and objectives. As knowledge of the Garden Club came to the community, membership rapidly increased and was limited to thirty-five.”

Activities early on included garden tours, TV appearances, annual picnic and more, according to the history.

Alice Houston-Johnson, 87, said she can’t remember how long she’s been a member, but she enjoys “the garden information and the fellowship.”

Likewise, “It’s something to look forward to every month,” said Gertrude Truitt-Green, 76, who said she’s been a member for “years.” She joined because she’s neighbors with Houston-Johnson. “I like working in the yard. … We learn different things,” she said.

Similarly, Olivia Ussery, 86, joined a few years ago through an invitation by Houston-Johnson. Ussery said, though she’s not an active gardener, “I do like flowers,” and she attends “as many (meetings) as I can. … I love to socialize.”

Carolyn Jerrells, 62, said she does a little “dabbling” in gardening, and she appreciates the friendships and the information that the group provides.

Likewise, Judy Arnold-Hunter, who joined around the year 2000, said she delights in the “camaraderie with everyone” in the club. Though she keeps a busy schedule, she said, her calendar always has the monthly club meeting listed on it.

Visitor Ann Anderson, 73, said she would like to learn more about the “do’s and don’t’s” of gardening, and if the meetings fit her schedule, she’ll likely return.

Godine said that any newcomers interested in attending a future meeting should email

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