Garden Club’s Annual Holiday Workshop Brings Spirit and Sunshine

Just because it’s almost winter doesn’t mean the Wilton Garden Club goes into hibernation. Last Wednesday, Nov. 29, there were 25 Garden Club members hard at work at their Annual Holiday Workshop, making festive holiday baskets, arrangements and wreaths for various causes around town.

Each year, the Club makes arrangements to donate to the Ambler Farm Greens Sale, as a way to help Ambler raise funds. In addition, Wilton Social Services will let the Club know how many homebound residents and families in need would appreciate a basket; this year the Garden Club made 24 baskets for Social Services to provide to those clients.

“It helps bring a little cheer into everybody’s life, when they need it the most,” says Linda Schmitt, who co-chairs both the Garden Club’s Civics Committee and its Sunshine Committee. “It’s a way we can help.”

In addition to the 34 baskets they made this year, the Garden Club spreads even more festive joy around town by making wreaths for several notable landmarks around town:  the hang wreaths on the Town Hall door, Wilton Library, Post Office, Hurlbutt Street Schoolhouse, Old Town Hall and Wilton Historical Society. As the town moves into the holiday season, it’s one way to set the mood and for residents to enjoy the season.

It’s been a tradition for the 28 years that Schmitt has been a member, although it gets bigger every year. Club president Suzanne Knutson says the event does so much for not just those who receive the baskets but also for the members themselves.

“We always get a good turnout. It’s fun and it kickstarts the holiday season right after Thanksgiving,” she says, estimating that out of 70 active members (total membership is 130), the 25 people who took part in the Holiday Worship represents one-third of the Club’s active membership showing up.

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“That’s a big turnout on a weekday morning. It’s a lot of work, set up, clean-up, but it’s a lot of fun,” Knutson adds.

Schmitt agrees. “It’s not just about flowers and gardens, it’s about friends too,”

Looking at the heaping piles of large branches and pine, fir and spruce greens on the floor for members to choose from as they work, it’s clear there’s a lot of preparation that goes into getting the Holiday Workshop organized, including where they source their supplies. As a civic group with a very lean budget, the Garden Club has to look for lots of alternate ways to get what is needed.

Knutson may be the only person who thinks the big, recent windstorms Wilton experienced were good things.

A windstorm knocked down a spruce tree on Grumman Hill Rd. and then a White Pine on Chestnut Hill that fell took power lines down and left a lot of people without power–so I went in and…cut, cut, cut. This time of year, when I drive around, I’m always looking for branches that have come down,” she says.

“Another member lost the top of one of her white pines so she turned lemons into lemonade,” Schmitt adds. “A lot of our members wait and do pruning at this time of year, with their boxwoods, their holly, because they know we need it. If we don’t have to buy it, it works very well. We purchase very little–the magnolia leaves and the red berries–and that’s it. The ornaments are purchased in the summer when there are sales at Michael’s, and all year long we look for bargains.”

The Club’s main fundraising happens through the Annual Mother’s Day Plant Sale, but of course the public’s generosity and donations anytime of the year would be welcome. “It goes to our civic endeavors–this is civic, right here,” Schmitt says looking around the room at the women intent on their creations.

“We’re working hard and want to reach out and help, and we have fun too–and if anyone want to join the Garden Club too, that would be great!” she laughs.

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