Steeped in Tradition
The Knoxville Garden Club was born on the afternoon of March 15, 1923 when the late Mrs. John S. Brown invited a group of her garden-minded friends to her home and announced, “Ladies, we are going to have a garden club”; whereupon they promptly elected her president.
In those early days members showed their gardens after meetings and opened many of their homes and gardens each spring. They also held beautiful seasonal flower shows, which were often combined with teas or luncheons.
The group organized and sponsored many community garden clubs and brought distinguished horticulture speakers to Knoxville. During the depression, the club sponsored civic plantings (Tyson Park and City Hall among them), which brought lasting beauty and gave work (and lunch) to many unemployed.
In 1932 the Club was admitted to the Garden Club of America. The early record of activities includes: 1) Grounds of 10 city schools planted; 2) South approach to Henley Street Bridge planted; 3) Grounds at the Home for Friendless Babies planted; 4) A botanical garden was begun at Melrose Art Center; 5) Roadside planting on Clinton Highway in cooperation with the Knox Council of Garden Clubs; 6) Thirty-eight Junior Garden Clubs were organized in the city schools; 7) Prizes were awarded to the Junior Garden Clubs and another to the 4H Club member of Knox County for the best essay on conservation; 8) Planted grounds at John Tarleton Institute; 9) Sponsored a project of conservation Christmas wreaths. The work was done at the YWCA and over 200 sold the first year. Other projects were sending flowers to hospitals and sponsoring Victory Gardens during World War II.
In 1934 we first undertook responsibility of clearing the grounds at Blount Mansion. This was the start of our long-time interest in that garden’s restoration. At the 1984 Zone Meeting, the Knoxville Garden Club was recognized for its outstanding work over a 50-year period in the development and maintenance of this 18th century garden.
Members work in the garden each week. In December, for Christmas, our members decorate the house. Most recently we have installed a watering system in the garden and worked to revitalize the original Parker Plan to make the garden more authentically 18th century.
The ladies cooperated with the Great Smoky Mountain Conservation Association to preserve plant materials removed from Cove Creek Dam. Years later we also rescued hundreds of wildflowers that would have been lost with the filling of the lake behind Ft. Loudon Dam.
The Club’s interest in education is evidenced in our long-time association with the University of Tennessee Conservation Camp for teachers. We award an annual undergraduate scholarship in the Ornamental Horticulture Department and a Conservation Scholarship at UTK.
Knoxville Garden Club (primarily through the efforts of Mrs. Frank Creekmore) is given credit for the idea of the Dogwood Trails (1955), which grew in 1962 into the city’s annual Dogwood Arts Festival.
In 1964, under the leadership of Mrs. Hobert Dunlap, KGC spearheaded the establishment of Ijams Nature Center, which continues to be an ongoing project - now more precious than ever, as a conservation-teaching tool. When it became obvious that the Knoxville Garden Club, even with the help of the Knox Council of Garden Clubs, could not financially do justice to this park, we contributed an additional $3,000 and urged the city to hire a part-time director. Ijams now has a vigorous year-round program with full-time director, horticulturist, and naturalist and education director. Mrs. William L. Fleury has been a tireless worker in the development of the Ijams Nature Center.
We assisted Tremont Environmental Center with conservation packets, a film and a landscape plan. We sponsored and supervised planting at the Helen Ross McNabb Mental Health Center.
Our annual Plant Sate started in 1964 as an exchange among members. Three years later it was opened to the public. Held each spring, the Plant Sale remains our primary money making project and a continued success. Garden Study Club, UTK and independent growers have become a part of the sale.
In 1974 Knoxville Garden Club provided the initial idea and leadership as well as financial commitment in founding Knoxville Heritage, Inc., whose goal is to identify and preserve buildings and areas of value to the city’s history. This was our Bicentennial Project. Our Garden Club was the largest initial contributor toward the purchase of the Lamar House Bijou Theater.
In 1977 our Club organized the Zone IX’s first conservation workshop. For three years, 1979 – 1981, Knoxville Garden Club hosted a Preview Dinner for the city’s Lawn and Garden Fair. We sponsored for one season the British gardening expert Thalasso Cruso’s television program on Channel 2.
In 1978 Knoxville Garden Club received its tax-exempt status from the State of Tennessee. We later (1983) established a Foundation Fund hoping to build it to the point where income from this Foundation would help support our activities.
We were a finalist in the 1979 Founders Fund Award competition and received $1,500 for the renovation of the Hopecote garden on the UTK campus. Again in 1987 we received $5,000 as a finalist from the GCA Founders Fund. This money was awarded for improvements in the Blount Mansion Garden.
For over fifteen years (starting in 1965) Mrs. A. C. Bruner conducted a horticulture class of new members and wrote horticulture notes for each meeting. The horticulture class continues as a requirement for first-year members.
In 1981 we increased our number of Affiliate Members, contributed two 50-year-old books to the GCA Library in New York and printed and sold a wild flower postcard as part of national GCA conservation project. We printed a brochure guide to the plants at Blount Mansion and placed new markers in the garden.
Every year since 1956, the KGC has had members active as chairmen of Zone committees and members on national committees. Three of our members have served as Zone IX Chairman: 1956-59 Mrs. Robert Ashe, 1975-77 Mrs. Gordon Bonnyman, 1979 - 1981 Mrs. William Fleury. Mrs. Bonnyman went on to become a GCA Director and chair four national committees. Mrs. Thomas T. Siler served as GCA Director Liaison to the Executive Committee and a national chairman.
The Knoxville Garden Club cooperated with the Knoxville Beautification Board in contacting local businesses to encourage improving landscaping and general appearance of our city in time for the 1982 World’s Fair.
In May of 1983 we held an award-winning flower show at the Dulin Gallery of Art in connection with the Hunt Botanical Collection Carnegie-Mellon University. Another successful flower show was staged at the Candy Factory, temporary site of the Knoxville Art Museum, in 1988 and again in the Art Museum in 1992.
Christmas of 1983 was celebrated by a tour of members’ homes. In the spring of 1984, we held a Daffodil Show at Blount Mansion and opened it to the public.
Knoxville was host to a very successful Zone IX meeting in 1985. Previous Zone meetings were held in Knoxville in 1960 and 1973. In 1984, in cooperation with the GCA Annual Meeting in Nashville, we conducted a two-day post-meeting tour to the Smoky Mountains. As early as in 1949, Knoxville Garden Club was taking GCA members through the Smokies. This was an Annual Meeting that came in five buses from Asheville, toured the mountains, were feted at an elaborate dinner that night in Knoxville and then delivered back to their Pullman cars at the Southern Railway Station for the rest of their trip.
In 1983 we nominated Mr. Arthur Stupka for the Eloise Payne Luquer Award, which was presented to him at Annual Meeting. In 1989, for the first time in our history, one of our own members, Mrs. Frank Creekmore, received a national GCA award, the Amy Angell Collier Montague Medal.
Mrs. Robert Ashe started a delightful tradition in the 1960’s when she planned several trips for garden club members. The group has been to Longwood Gardens, Winterthur and Charleston. We have made two trips to the Philadelphia Flower Show, and made trips to Atlanta, Boston, Newport and Nantucket.
Our members have always had a keen interest in the Smoky Mountain National Park. The Geriatric Hiking Group supports this. Actives and Associates take a monthly hike and an occasional overnight.
In 1990 Mrs. Frank Creekmore and Miss Betsey Creekmore presented KGC with a book Scenic Drives and Wildflower Walks in the Great Smokies, which they wrote and researched based on notes from the Geriatric Hiking Group. Funds from the sale of this book support a conservation scholarship at the University of Tennessee and contribute to other community projects.
A Knoxville Garden Club conservation grant played a key role in the first annual Ijams Nature Center High School Environmental Conference in 1991. In partnership with Ijams and the City of Knoxville, the KGC continues to support the expansion of this very successful conference and the environmental projects it fosters.
For one of our regular meetings in 1992 the club initiated the practice of dividing the membership into small groups that meet in separate homes to focus on a particular topic. During the spring of 1993 the KGC was a leading participant and supporter of the 1st East Tennessee Environmental Conference; the club nominated Dr. Aaron Sharp for the Eloise Payne Luquer Award which he received at Annual Meeting; the KGC nominee, The Rooftop Therapy Garden at the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, won the Founders Fund Award o $20,000.
In1994, Mrs. Thomas T. Siler edited Emily Bruner’s horticulture notes resulting in the publication of a book entitled “Ask Emily about Gardening in East Tennessee”. The profits will benefit KBG projects. KGC elected to present a gift certificate to each new Habitat for Humanity homeowner entitling them to a five-foot dogwood tree. A successful in house flower show was held at which we received a horticulture commendation. By donating $1,000 KGC became a Charter Member of Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains. Also the membership voted to pledge $1,000 to the Foothills Land Conservancy to help purchase a 4,600-acre tract on Abrams Creek adjacent to the National Park.
The Amy Angell Collier Montague Medal, a GCA national award for outstanding civic achievement, was given to Mrs. James A. Haslam, II in 1995. Mrs. George Lane received the GCA National Scholarship Committee Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award of $1,000 for early environmental education. Also in 1995, Dr. Frank Galyon was named a GCA Member at Large and Mrs. William Fleury was presented with the Zone IX Creative Leadership Award.
During 1996 four members opened their gardens for the University of Tennessee “Friends of the Gardens” benefit. The Knoxville Garden Club acted as a sponsor for the Earth Flag Program to encourage school students to develop good conservation habits. At the GCA National Meeting, Mrs. Thomas T. Siler was awarded the GCA Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement related to any aspect of Garden Club of American interests. In coordination with our Bicentennial Project, permanent membership records are being computerized.
The September 1996 Flower Show, “Meet Me at the Fair”, held at the TVA & I Fair, was quite a success. The Backyard Habitat Exhibit “If You Plant It, They Will Come” won the Marion Thompson Award. A Long Range Planning Committee, composed of former president of KGC was formed. Geriatrics visited homes and gardens in Hilton Head and Beaufort, SC. The Talahi Plant Sale was held for the first time at Lakeshore Park . . . and that became another first: first in location and first in excellence.
The Knoxville Garden Club participated in the “Partners for Plants” conservation project in 1997-98 as the first club in Tennessee to do so. For this project we assisted in planting geum on Mont LeConte and in placing educational signage in the park. Also during the year, the Geriatrics made very generous donations to the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains and to the Foothills Land Conservancy.
We covered ourselves in “Mountain Mist and Valley Glory” hosting the 1999 Zone IX meeting in Knoxville. The club also established an endowed $15,000 scholarship at UTK in ornamental horticulture as a memorial to Emily Bruner. In addition, $1,000 was contributed to the GCA project 2000 Butterfly Garden in Washington, DC.
In September 1999 we introduced “Flower Arranging 101,” as a new committee, in order to hold workshops and educate the membership. As part of the Millennium celebration, we honored 15 of our members who have given at least 40 years of service. A copy of the GCA publication “Gardens of Colony and State” was purchased in their honor and placed at the Sequoyah Library.
In September 2000, KGC again participated in Partners for Plants. This time, it was a hand’s across the mountain’s effort with the North Carolina Clubs, in harvesting black cohash. As of April, the signage for the 1997 geum project was in place at Cliff Tops, at Mount LeConte. In October, we issued a challenge grant to all area garden clubs, to be used toward the purchase of Smith Bend. In January, KGC was credited with the donation of $12,000 toward the purchase of this 2500-acre wildlife habitat on the Tennessee River. In November, we established an Emeritus Membership category, which is defined under our Customs and Standing Rules. In March we had a very successful small flower show at Bennett Galleries entitled “Feathers and Sticks: The Bird in Art”. Margaret Madden won the Catherine Beattie Medal and Vicki Chapman was the first recipient of the Sandra Baylor Novice Award.
The Garden History and Design Committee submitted to the Smithsonian a slide review of Mrs. Dooley Lothrop’s garden with the title “A Mentor’s Garden”. It was accepted and will be available on their web page. During 2001-03 we also worked on archiving our important and historical records. GCA gladly accepted records that pertained them and we made an agreement with The McClung Historical Collection to house some of our local records. Things that KGC will be keeping will now be kept in one safe place and stored in archival boxes where they will be accessible to our membership.
The 2004 Talahi Plant Sale was on the move and gained another Partner. KGC and Garden Study were joined by HGTV at the downtown World’s Fair site. In addition to helping with the successful sale, HGTV brought in nationally known speakers for the event. KGC donated $5,000 toward the Endowed Professorship in Horticulture at the University of Tennessee as a tribute to Donald B. Williams.
During the year of 2005, The Knoxville Garden Club gave $5,000 to the Garden Club of America Endowment Fund – Growing into the 21st Century: A Campaign to Ensure Continuous Bloom. This donation was given in honor of our Associate Sustaining and Honorary members who through the years have ensured “continuous bloom”.
Much needed updating of the By-laws was completed in 2006. Because of the hurricane damage to our four sister clubs in the fall of 2005, we supported the Gulf Coast Zone IX Horticulture Restoration Fund with a monetary gift.
The Knoxville Garden Club’s Committee of Garden History and Design completed a new submission to the Smithsonian. The garden submitted belongs to Dr. Alan Solomon and bears an interesting name, GATOP, “God’s Answer to our Prayers”. Also in 2006-2007, KGC gave a monetary gift to GCA in honor of Alice Matthews, President of GCA and member of the Garden Club of Nashville in Zone IX. A donation to Old Gray Cemetery allowed their Board to hire a tree specialist to treat trim and preserve the old tree canopy in this historic cemetery. Our members worked on refurbishing the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center Rooftop Therapy Gardens, which originally were a recipient of the GCA Founders Fund Award.
2007 marked the eve of our celebration of 85 years as a Garden Club. In recognition of this benchmark, the club gave a signature gift of $10,000 to the Friends of the University of Tennessee Trial Gardens as they celebrated their Silver Anniversary of 25 years of hard work and success. Our gift represents our continued commitment to the beautification of our community and support of the important research the Trial Gardens have undertaken.
In 2008, our annual Plant Sale returned to Lakeshore Park. This move was met with enthusiasm from our loyal shoppers, and it was a perfect day with significant revenues generated. The plants and weather were exceptional. Our theme,
“Everything Old is New Again”, was foreshadowing of rich traditions associated with this community event. Diverse trips and workshops were held throughout the year as Conservation, Horticulture and Geriatrics combined resources to explore similar interests. Picnics, hikes, and garden tours were offered with such unique outings as “Take the Bus to Town” as we explored energy saving measures to enjoying The North Carolina Arboretum in the cool Asheville mountains.
Our celebration of the KGC’s 85th Anniversary culminated with a festive day in October 2009 at The Knoxville Museum of Art. Our open meeting hosted Remco van Vliet, famed Floral Designer entertaining the audience with his designs and wit. A GCA Flower Show, filling the museum gallery, showcased KGC’s talented membership. The day ended with a cocktail party for the club to enjoy. This celebration created more fond memories so cherished by its members.
In 2009 the KGC began the option of offering our newsletter, Seedlings, online. Many members are enjoying the convenience of email and being supportive of Conservation efforts. In anticipation of GCA’s 100th Anniversary celebration in 2013, our club voted to undertake two projects associated with The Legacy Tree Project. We will plant dogwood trees at The Blount Mansion, our garden project, in conjunction with The Dogwood Arts Festival effort “Plant a Bazillion Blooms”. Our commitment to the Festival since inception in 1962 remains sound. Because of our interest in helping to grow Ijams Nature Center, we also partnered with them to build an Arboretum Trail, with construction planned to begin in 2010 and completed in 2013. Our June picnic honored all KGC members with 40 years or more of membership. It was a special tribute to those who down thru the years have set the standards of excellence for our club.
In November 2009 the KGC conducted its first ever bulb sale at the open meeting held at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The organizers designed an attractive display of an extensive selection of fancy bulbs sorted into market baskets arranged on tables in the Great Hall. Geriatrics organized a group tour of UT’s Baker Center for Public Policy, followed by lunch at the Copper Cellar. Two new features at this year’s Talahi Plant Sale were the “Green Elephant Sale”, which showcased members’ used garden and flower items. A new cookbook, “Stay for Lunch: Presidents’ Collection of Recipes” was produced and sold. Work began on KGC’s history video, in which members recount stories and memories on tape. In addition to our usual hikes, digs and meetings, several of our members won top marks at the Zone IX flower shows and events.
October 2010’s Flower Show, “Honey, I’m Home”, was held at the home of Ann Bailey and gave our award-winning flower arrangements special recognition in GCA’s By Design magazine and a photo in GCA’s In Focus magazine. One GCA visitor commented, “You are all such good friends, even across generations. You just seem to enjoy each other immensely.”
The Fall Open Meeting held at The Knoxville Museum of Art featured Eleanor Weller Reade on “Gardens of the Golden Age 1880-1940”. Spring’s Open Meeting, also at KMA, presented Christopher “The Bulb Hunter” Wiesinger, President and Owner of The Southern Bulb Company.
The Club granted $4,750 to the Knoxville Botanical Garden to be used for further development of the KGC Danae Garden and Mary Nell Johnson Perennial Border, the first formal garden area to be completed at the Botanical Gardens.
Martha Kern hosted a hayride, bonfire and cookout at her family farm.
In 2011 GCA approved KGC’s Partners for Plants Project with Ijams Nature Center and the Legacy Parks Foundation. It will begin by focusing on orchids in the Ross Marble Natural Area at Ijams and invasive plants in the Legacy Parks River Bluff area, land that was donated by the Rose family.
The oral history video, Forget-Me-Nots: Reminiscences of the Knoxville Garden Club, premiered at the February small group meetings.
February 2011’s horticulture workshop, with Sarah Bush of Edible Revolution, spawned our first-ever vegetable seedling swap. This took place at the May meeting. Six of our talented members created floral arrangements for the Dogwood Festival Home and Garden Show. The Talahi Plant Sale “Flower Power: Groovin in the Garden” was followed by a cocktail party at Lisa Blakley’s home.
Knoxvillegardenclub.org went live in May. The June picnic was held at the home of Gail Wedekind where six cute, smart, stylish gardeners and flower arrangers were welcomed as new members and the inaugural Frances McAmis Lothrop Mentoring Award was presented to Posey Congleton; Melissa McAdams was named GCA National Affairs and Legislation Chairman. The 2010 – 2011 year finished with a group trip to the World Association of Flower Arrangers Show in Boston.
The Knoxville Garden Club resumed the tradition of the Geriatric Hikers with five hikes in the Smoky Mountains National Park in 2011 – 2012. New binders were ordered for our yearbooks with the Jack-in-the-Pulpit logo. Nationally known garden personalities Kathleen Gagan of Peony’s Envy, spoke in November and Jon Carloftis spoke in March on urban gardens at the Knoxville Museum of Art. For the second year we participated in the Dogwood Arts Festival House and Garden Show with Martha McClellan leading a Hat Flower Arranging Workshop. All five Tennessee GCA clubs raised money for the restoration of the Lily Pond Garden at the Governor’s Mansion. Over $19,000 was presented to First Lady Crissy Haslam at a celebratory party at the home of Ann and Steve Bailey. Our own Melissa McAdams, GCA Chairman of the National Affairs and Legislation Committee, directed the conference in Washington, DC in February. KGC finished out the year by having its picnic at the historic land grant farm of Martha Kern. On this beautiful day 103 members posed for a group photograph.
The theme for 2012 – 2013 of The Knoxville Garden Club was the Garden Club of
America’s Centennial. This was led by past-president, Posey Congleton, who was on the GCA Centennial Committee. Beginning at our September meeting we cut a burlap ribbon for the opening of The Knoxville Garden Club Arboretum Trail at Ijams Nature Center. This trail was our Centennial Tree Project and had been in the works since 2009. Over 38 trees had been identified by Ijams, which allowed them to apply for a state arboretum designation. Our fall Flower Show continued with a Centennial theme, “Past, Present and Future”. Member Betsey Creekmore gave a champagne toast to GCA, and a historical presentation of our founder, Carolyn Brown, at the Christmas Luncheon. Small group meetings were held in members’ homes in February with historic scrapbooks, photos and directories on display for our KGC McClung Collection Archives for the membership to sift through and share stories. Our Talahi Plant Sale theme was “Petals from the Past – Since 1964” and it focused on plants from our own gardens. The Year End Picnic “In the Oak Grove” at Lisa Blakley’s home, celebrated the Centennial with a birthday cake. This was certainly one birthday where everyone enjoyed the aging process!
The 2013 - 2014 year for The Knoxville Garden Club was an exciting one from the start! Varina Willse and Nancy Rhoda from the Land Trust of Tennessee spoke to us regarding the importance of conserving family farmland. The talk was enhanced by a slide show highlighting the families who have placed their land in the hands of the Land Trust. This was very enlightening, but the truly exciting moment came when it was announced that in 2014 the Legacy Parks Foundation would be awarded the Cynthia Pratt Laughlin Medal for outstanding achievement in environmental protections and the maintenance of the quality of life. This is one of ten national medals awarded annually by The Garden Club of America. The Garden history and Design Committee was pleased to submit the Lane Hayes Garden to the Smithsonian Museum for review and inclusion in the Archives of American Gardens. Our fall open meeting was most entertaining. James Farmer, author of six books, including A Time to Plant, spoke of his Southern upbringing and how it shaped his entertaining style, flower arranging, cooking, landscaping, and decorating. He brought boxes of his books to sign and sold out of every one!
The Knoxville Garden Club and the Garden Study Club joined forces for an important fundraiser for the Talahi Park Foundation. A cocktail party, which raised $10,000 for the foundation, was held at the beautiful home of Ann and Steve Bailey. The money will be used to help preserve Talahi Park, the location of our first plant sale. The Talahi Plant Sale celebrated fifty years in April with the appropriate theme of, “Fifty Years and Growing Stronger”. A potted Jack-in-the-Pulpit was given to the first fifty people in line in celebration of the anniversary. Our spring open meeting held at the Knoxville Museum of Art featured a flower arranging demonstration by acclaimed floral designer Bruno Duarte. He traveled from Toronto to regal us with a fast paced and interesting demonstration of his beautiful sculptural arrangements. Leaf manipulation was the driving point behind his lecture. All in attendance were also able to tour the newly opened Richard Jolley Installation entitled, “Cycle of Life.” The May Picnic was held on a lovely, sunny day at the equally lovely home of Priscilla Siler. Seven new members were announced and many awards were given while we all enjoyed a great lunch. At the meeting, Blount Mansion awarded Nancy Kelly with the first “Blount Mansion Mary Boise Temple Preservation Award” in honor of her outstanding commitment and dedication to Blount Mansion. The Knoxville Garden Club was also recognized and thanked for the eighty years our club has maintained the gardens at Blount Mansion.
2014 - 2015 was another great year for the Knoxville Garden Club! As this was a flower show year, the first membership meeting in September was quite informative. Georganne Guarino, chair of the show, spoke about the schedule and what it takes to bring home the blue ribbon. Chairs of each division provided great information for the upcoming show along with KGC's first held Bench Show. The 2014 GCA Flower Show, “Frame of Reference”, was held in October at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Floral designs, horticulture, photography, and botanical embellishments were all inspired by the artwork in the museum. The show was a huge success!
November brought a wonderful open meeting featuring Lisa Mason Ziegler, who spoke on “Growing Great Spring Flowers.” The meeting also included an additional horticulture workshop. The cold winter was made warmer for members of KGC as we decorated Blount Mansion for Christmas, held the annual Christmas Luncheon, which saw members provide gifts for the Boys and Girls Club, and attended small group meetings in the homes of various members. In the spring, we learned about the efforts to save the red spruce tree by Kelly Holdbrooks of the Southern Highlands Reserve in North Carolina. Over 20 members made their own rain barrels at Karen Smith’s barn and many plants were dug and potted for the upcoming plant sale.
The theme for the 2015 plant sale was “Keep Calm and Garden On.” The weather threatened to be stormy, but the day turned out to be beautiful and the sale was a resounding success. May brought the introduction of four extraordinary new members at the annual picnic held at the home of Sherri Lee. The day and setting were equally beautiful. The spring open meeting was also held in May at Cherokee Country Club. This year the meeting was in partnership with the Blount Mansion Association and featured Dean Norton, Director of Horticulture at Mount Vernon. The meeting was very well attended and 50 people stayed for lunch and more conversation with Dean. Spearheaded by Melynda Whetsel, the Garden History and Design Committee were pleased to submit the Priscilla Siler Garden to the Smithsonian Museum for review and inclusion in the Archives of American Gardens. At the 2015 Annual Meeting in Rochester, New York, Martha McClellan received one of the highest honors bestowed annually by the Garden Club of America: The Katherine Thomas Carey Medal. This award was presented to Martha for her outstanding achievement in the field of floral design.
The 20152016 year started on a historical note, as Don Barger, Regional Director of National Parks Conservation spoke to us during the 100-year anniversary of the National Park system. Mr. Barger enlightened us on conservation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The meeting was held at Ijams Nature Center. September also brought the Zone 9 President’s Council Meeting to Knoxville. Our club was honored to host the important three-day meeting and our members truly stepped in to make the event a great success. The fall open meeting was held at the customary location of the Knoxville Museum of Art and featured Sybil Sylvester of Wildflower Designs in Birmingham. Sybil created beautiful arrangements using wildflowers that she grew.
In December, members showed off their talents while decorating Blount Mansion for Christmas. The historic home looked beautiful! We also celebrated with lovely luncheon during the annual Christmas party. Several generous members opened their homes to host lunch and small group meetings during the month of February. These warm gatherings are always a bright spot during the dreary winter. In March, we gathered at the University of Tennessee Visitor’s Center for an informative workshop on creating photography with applications on a smartphone. Frank Distefano and Christine Patterson Winter educated us on the art of taking unique and beautiful pictures with our smartphones. March also saw the first “Weed Wrangle Knoxville,” which was a resounding success!
“Let it Grow” was the theme of the 2016 Talahi Plant Sale. The weather was not entirely cooperative, but the sale was still a blooming success, with a strong turnout that made for a profitable weekend. The money raised will help to fund amazing projects throughout the city. Our spring open meeting was quite popular and featured renowned designer and author John Grady Burns. John Grady showed examples of using collections of everyday items as containers for both plant and floral arrangements. An amazing floral design workshop followed the meeting. The Annual Spring Picnic also took place in May at the beautiful home of Melinda Ethier. The wonderful weather and amazing setting created the perfect backdrop for the presentation of KGC awards and new members.
The 2016-2017 year began with an Arrangements and Horticulture “bench show” at Knoxville Botanical Gardens Welcome Center. This was a fitting prelude to our October flower show. Our meeting, aptly titled: “How to Enter a Flower Show and Keep Your Sanity & Have Some Fun,” proved to be most informative and educational. A month later, our “Master Works” Flower Show lived up to its name, as nature’s bounty lit up the Knoxville Museum of Art with dazzling floral designs, horticulture specimens, professional photographs, and botanical art. GCA Judges showered our participating members with awards in all classes. We returned to KMA for our November meeting with speaker Holly Jones, the Kitchen Garden Manager at the University of Tennessee. As she educated us on the Sustainable Kitchen Garden, she emphasized that a kitchen garden should consist of fruits, vegetables, cut flowers and herbs, displayed in an aesthetically pleasing way. After putting the gardens to bed, we decorated Blount Mansion for Christmas, in time for their Candlelight Tour. KGC wrapped up 2016 with its annual Christmas Luncheon at Cherokee Country Club.
In February, we enjoyed our small group meeting and lunch in members’ homes. Jason Powel, a horticulturist from Birmingham, educated us on heirloom plants at our March meeting. His topic, “Tough Plants from the Southern Grandmother’s Garden,” gave us insight on plants that stand the test of time. We then prepared for the annual Weed Wrangle, held later in March. Almost one hundred volunteers “wrangled” invasive plants and weeds at Lakeshore Park and Knoxville Botanical Gardens. This joint effort, with GCA nationwide, helps rescue parks and green spaces from invasive plants through hands-on removal.
We hosted our annual Talahi Plant Sale the first weekend in April. After the drought last summer, we were delighted with the superior quality of the plants. Combined with our members’ knowledge and customer service, the quality items provided by the vendors, and the blessing of perfect weather, the sale was very successful. In recent years, our financial support from local sponsors has grown, which, in turn, enables us to give more money back into our community. Lakeshore Park’s redevelopment ensures it will continue to be the perfect setting. After a “week off,” ten members braved the inclement weather to travel to Charlottesville, VA for the annual Virginia Garden Week at the end of April. They were captivated by the extraordinarily beautiful homes and gardens they visited. We squeezed in one last event in April as Knoxville Garden Club was chosen as the Honoree at the annual UT Gardens Gala. Our own, Sherri Lee, was chosen as the Honorary Chairman.
GCA member and floral designer, Jane Goodstalk, spoke on flower arranging secrets at our May meeting, held at KMA. Afterwards, she further educated a smaller group of our members in a floral design workshop. Our final meeting, the annual May picnic, was held at the beautiful home of Ann Bailey. After the presentation of awards, President Callie Cullom turned the gavel over to incoming President, Lisa Blakley.
2017-2018 was a year of Lumination for KGC as we prepared for the May 2018 GCA Zone IX Meeting & Flower Show. Our September meeting at the KMA, “Shining a Light on Lumination”, was led by Tiffany Siler, Kelly Nystrom, Kathryn Callaway and Amy Wilbanks. Our Lumination leaders gave a very thorough overview of the GCA Zone IX Meeting & Flower Show to be held May 7-10, 2018. Members had an opportunity to sign up as hostesses for the many events associated with the Zone IX Meeting.
Our October membership with Garden Study Club, “Baubles, Beads, and Bangles: The Five “ ’W’s of Creating Botanical Arts”, featured the talented Lee Easterly and Sharel Hooper from the Garden Club of Lookout Mountain as speakers. The meeting was educational and entertaining and their works with Botanicals were intricate and stunning. The workshop that followed allowed members to create their own beautiful Botanical pieces.
In November, we gathered at Law’s Interiors for a program featuring Paul Law, Will Grubbs, and Bryan Valentine: “Finishing Touches.......A Collected Table. Just in time for the Holidays! Members enjoyed browsing and shopping after the program. After putting the gardens to bed, we decorated Blount Mansion for Christmas in time for their Candlelight tour. We finished 2017 with our annual Christmas Luncheon at Cherokee Country Club. Members continued the tradition of bringing gifts for the Boys and Girls Club.
February Small Group Meetings were held in members’ homes and provided a wonderful opportunity for fellowship and a delicious luncheon. The March membership meeting at Sequoyah Hills Presbyterian Church, “Countdown to Lumination”, was informational and exciting. Kelly Nystrom, Tiffany Siler, Amy Wilbanks, and Kathryn Callaway walked the members through the details and events of the Zone IX Meeting & Flower Show and encouraged everyone to sign up as hostesses and helpers. Our annual Weed Wrangle had our members successfully wrangling weeds and invasive plants at Lakeshore Park and Knoxville Botanical Gardens.
Our 54th Talahi Plant Sale “Just Grow With It” was a huge success under the leadership of Ashley Haun and Christy Overton. The proceeds of this amazing event that we host with Garden Study Club benefit several organizations in our community.
We welcomed GCA members from all over Zone IX to Knoxville May 7-10 for “Lumination”. From beginning to end, our club worked together to shine a light on our community and showcase our beautiful city. From the Welcome Dinner at Ann and Steve Bailey’s, the beautiful Flower Show under the leadership of Kathryn Callaway and Amy Wilbanks, the beautiful gardens at Blount Mansion tended by Kim Bartlett and our members, the In-Home dinners at our members’ welcoming and beautiful homes, the luncheon and tour at UT Gardens, the President’s Meeting and tour of Knoxville Botanical Gardens, the trip to Blackberry Farm to hear Master Gardener John Coykendall speak, and finally a delicious Awards Dinner........it was a spectacular week! Tiffany Siler and Kelly Nystrom were amazing leaders for this special event for our club. We celebrated the end of our very successful and fun year with a champagne “Lumination Celebration” brunch at Cherokee Country Club.
The 2018-2019 year began with our September meeting at Marble Hall at Lakeshore Park. Cardin Bradley, Director of Development for Lakeshore, spoke on the past, present, and future of Lakeshore Park. Cardin also took members on a walking tour of Lakeshore and highlighted recent projects and improvements to the Park. Our October membership meeting was held at Ijams Nature Center, and we welcomed Hugh Nystrom back to speak on “How are the bees doing?” October also included a Snip and Sip at the home of Amy Wilbanks where members brought interesting specimens from their gardens and enjoyed sharing and fellowship. The annual Metcalf Bottoms Picnic and Hike also took place in October.
In November we welcomed Greg Campbell and Erick New of the Garden District of Memphis as our speakers for this open meeting. “Exploring Color and Texture” was the theme of the meeting and an optional flower arranging workshop followed the meeting. Greg also signed copies of his new beautiful book, “Florists to the Field.” After putting the gardens to bed, we decorated Blount Mansion for Christmas just in time for their Candlelight Tour. We celebrated the holidays with our membership at the annual Christmas Luncheon at Cherokee Country Club. Members brought gifts for the Boys and Girls Club.
In February, we continued the wonderful tradition of February Small Group Meetings in members’ homes. Hostesses provided a delicious luncheon, and it was a great opportunity for fellowship. Our March membership meeting featured Joe Jumper of The Clay Pot in Chattanooga. He was such an entertaining speaker and demonstrated varied floral designs and techniques from weddings to parties and other special occasions. March also included a wonderful GCA Flower Arranging 201 Workshop with Lookout Mountain Garden Club. The workshop was held at Lakeshore and was led by Julie Spear.
The theme of our 55th Talahi Plant Sale was “Plant With Kindness Gather With Love”. Under the leadership of Christy Overton and Mary Atkins, the annual event that we host with Garden Study Club was an overwhelming success. The proceeds of our sale benefit several organizations in our community. Our May open meeting was held at the Knoxville Museum of Art. Houston architect, Bill Curtis of Curtis and Windham Architects led the program entitled “A Vision of Place: The Work of Curtis & Windham Architects.” He shared many of their incredible projects that demonstrated his talent and attention to detail.
We celebrated the end of the year with a May Brunch and Awards Presentation at Cherokee Country Club. After the presentation of awards, Lisa Blakley turned the gavel over to incoming President, Ginger Browning.