Down To Earth Garden Club celebrates its 40th anniversary

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Thu., Sep. 19, 2013
Professional gardener Colleen Plimpton felt honored to be speaking at the Down to Earth Garden Club’s 40th anniversary celebration. Photo by Lisa Stone.
Professional gardener Colleen Plimpton felt honored to be speaking at the Down to Earth Garden Club’s 40th anniversary celebration. Photo by Lisa Stone.

The Down to Earth Garden Club of South Windsor celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The celebratory meeting took place at the South Windsor Public Library on Sept. 11.

Colleen Plimpton was the guest speaker in honor of the club’s milestone. Plimpton is an American garden communicator as well as published author. To Plimpton’s credit are books such as "Woodstock Revisited" and "Mentors in the Garden of Life."  Her magazine articles have appeared in Toastmaster, Connecticut Gardener and Greenprints. Plimpton has also appeared on major network programs "Good Morning America" and other NBC and CBS shows.

The topic of her speech, entitled "Goodnight, My Garden," was how to put your garden to bed for the winter. Plimpton offered advice on what to cut and discard as well as what should be mulched into the garden.  “Always discard peony and phlox,” said Plimpton.  “Gardeners should leave astilbe, sedum and rudbeckia for winter interest as well as the enjoyment for the birds.”

Plimpton talked about which vegetable plants are strong enough to withstand the frost and which are not. “Light frost is between 28 to 32 degrees,” she said. “Beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon are not strong enough and will likely be damaged by light frost. Artichokes, beets, carrots and lettuce are able to withstand this type of frost.  However, vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, peas and turnips are able to endure even the hard frost.”

In addition to Plimpton's tips, getting the newest information about gardening was a major part of the evening, in addition to commemorating the club's 40 years in operation. Two of their charter members, Betty Gehris and Emily Zumpano, were honored for their years of membership. Gehris and Zumpano started the club, along with Donna Kausch, in 1973. Kausch took 20 years off to raise her family and indulge in different interests, but came back 12 years ago.  The club’s president, David Starr handed the three ladies a bookbag with their names embroidered on them. It was a nice trip down memory lane as Starr and the three ladies reminisced about the history of their club and how close they had come to disbanding it.

When the club was in its infancy, the few members that they had would give their own demonstrations and speeches due to the fact that the club didn’t have enough money to hire a professional.  Now, the club enjoys speeches and demonstrations by the likes of Colleen Plimpton and other such top gardeners. “We are truly honored to have Ms. Plimpton at our meeting,” said Starr.  “We admire her work and look forward to learning from her. This is a real pleasure for us.”

The South Windsor Public Library was a co-sponsor for this event.  “We co-sponsor one meeting a year,” said Library Director Mary Etter. “We are thrilled that our co-sponsored meeting happens to be on their 40th anniversary celebration.  They are a great bunch of people and a fantastic club.”

Mary White has only been a member for two years now, but she enjoys being a part of the club.  “I am still a newbie,” said White.  “I have a lot to learn.  Each meeting gives me more and more information.  I love this group.  I look forward to the meetings.”

The Down to Earth Garden Club is very active and believes in giving back to the community.  They designed, planted and maintain the garden at the entrance to Nevers Road Park, the Butterfly Garden next to the park’s main parking lot, the Sensory Garden at “My Friend’s Place” Boundless Playground on Nevers Road and the Ann Masi Memorial Garden at Wood Memorial Library. The club members also grow fruit and vegetables for Food Share.  To date, the club has donated more than 100,000 pounds of home grown food. It has been recognized by the Town Council for town beautification efforts, and members take part in more than 13 farmers' markets.

The club meets once a month at the Avery Street Christian Reformed Church, located at 661 Avery St., in South Windsor.  To learn more about the Down to Earth Garden Club, go online to

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