Saturday, 04 April 2020


Whitianga Garden Club celebrated 35 years last week

Whitianga Garden Club celebrated 35 years last week

On Tuesday last week, 8 April the Whitianga Garden Club celebrated their 35th anniversary with a lunch at Motu Kitchen in Whitianga.

For founding members, Tertia Abrahamson and Margaret Simpson, it was a good time to reminisce about years gone by.

“I just want to set the record straight,” said Margaret, “Tertia is more of a founding member than I am, because I missed the first meeting.”

The club was Tertia’s idea. “We lived on a farm outside town those years. There was lot of clay and I had difficulty getting a garden going. I made some enquiries with other garden clubs, but they were all full. I spoke to Jean Niccol about my predicament and next moment she invited a few ladies over to my place to discuss the idea of our own garden club. That led to a first formal meeting at Freda Reynders’s place, when we formed the club.”

Tertia remembered more meetings at Freda’s place, which wasn’t very big. “One time, while I was president of the club, there weren’t enough chairs around, so I sat on the ground and conducted the meeting from the floor.”

That caused Margaret to remember the first time the club invited some surrounding clubs over for a garden party. “It was held at my place in Simpsons Beach, all planned for the front garden. But the wind was awful, so we had to shift it to the back garden, where everyone had to sit with their hats and Sunday finery around the septic tank mushroom. That wasn’t the worst, though.

At some point those of us working in the kitchen became a bit concerned because the heaps, or so we thought, of food we prepared were fast disappearing. We just made it - no leftovers. All that was left for us working bees were salad leaves. We learnt a lot that day. We never ran short again.”

And then Tertia remembered a trip to a garden outside Coromandel Town. “Joan Whiting was the president at that time. The lady whose garden we went to had a few donkeys on her property. Joan decided to get on one. The donkey didn’t exactly like it and started running. Joan quietly decided that was a good time to slide off it. It was very funny.”

Both of them also remembered a potato growing contest the club had one year. “We were each given a seed potato to plant,” said Margaret. “There were quite a few prizes. The lady who won grew 3lb of potatoes. Quite unbelievable.”

That immediately had Tertia laughing. “Yes, I remember I succeeded in growing only three potatoes. The one was smaller than half of a dainty scone. The other two were even smaller. I won the boobie prize. That put me off vegetable gardening forever.” To that Maragret added, “My potatoes were small too. But according to the judges, the one was near perfectly formed. So I got a prize for that.”

The biggest change the club has seen over the years is that meetings are now held after a shared lunch, not before afternoon tea as was the case in the early days. Club members still go on trips to flower shows, they still visit gardens around the area and when one of them isn’t well, they still get a “get well soon card.”

“It’s still great fun. I will belong to the club as long as I can,” said Tertia. To which Margaret added, “Yes, me too.”


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