Since 1976, the Olde Ripton Garden Club has overseen the care of Shelton’s flora and fauna. Members are responsible for planting and caring for outdoor floral and herb gardens in public areas, such as the Huntington Green, Shelton Community Center and Shelton Historical Society property.
In early spring, members gather at the Huntington Green to clean up the debris caused by winter storms and prepare the garden beds for planting.
President Joyce Donnelly said roses grow by the fountain and an assortment of hostas, iris and lantanas currently bloom in the park.
“We also have mums in the fall,” Donnelly said. “We also plant daffodils and tulips in the fall so they will come up in the spring.”
Maintain gardens at public sites
For each week in the summer, individual garden club members take turns weeding and watering the gardens at the Huntington Green.
“If it’s a week where there is a lot of rain, they don’t have much to do,” Donnelly said.
Members also sign up to water and weed other gardens sponsored by the club in Shelton. For example, Claire Narrris, a founding club member, has managed the garden at Plumb Memorial Library for several years, Donnelly said.
A festive red, white and blue outdoor floral display is in front of the World War II memorial monument near the library’s entrance. This display will remain throughout the season.
Beautifying the Shelton Community Center’s exterior are mums, hostas, day lilies, peonies and a rose of Sharon bush.
Oversee herb garden at Historical Society
Vice President Renee Marsh takes care of an herb garden at the Shelton Historical Society on Ripton Road.
“The period of the house is 1913 so the herbs planted have to reflect this historical time,” Marsh explained.
Marsh recently designed a brochure that tells visitors more about the herbs found in the garden. Some of the herbs planted are lavender, oregano, sage and thyme.
“They were used for culinary and medicinal uses back then,” she said.
The herb garden was initially planted by the garden club’s original members. At that time, the club had 75 members; it now has about 45 members.
“We are a fairly small club,” Donnelly said. “However, we do a lot.”
A plant sale in May helps to fund the club’s projects. The city of Shelton also provides about $1,000 each year.
Meet monthly at Plumb Library
Meetings are held on the first Monday of the month at 10 a.m. at the Plumb Memorial Library. The next meeting is Monday, Sept. 9. (The club doesn’t meet during the summer.)
“New members are always welcome,” said Donnelly. “You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to join.”
Although Donnelly said she was “always interested” in gardening, she didn’t have much experience when she joined the Olde Ripton Garden Club in 1991.
“I had just retired and I mainly joined to learn how to garden,” she said.
Beekeeping to organic gardening
Education is an important part of the monthly meetings. Marsh is responsible for scheduling guest speakers.
Some of the topics explored in previous meetings have been beekeeping and organic gardening.
As a master gardener certified by the University of Connecticut, Marsh has also spearheaded an education program about invasive insects and plants. This year a member researched a specific invasive plant to report on for the group.
Members also participate in community service projects. For the past seven years, six to eight members have led indoor garden-related projects at Crosby Commons, an assistant and independent living facility in Shelton.
As part of its community outreach, the Olde Ripton Garden Club also provides a $500 scholarship each year to a Shelton High School graduate who is planning to study horticulture.
“We are a fun group,” Donnelly said. “Our meetings always end up with a lunch. Although we are an active group and do a lot, we are also social.”
For club information, call 203-929-9988 and go to www.olderiptongardenclub.org.