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Spring has sprung, giving garden lovers the area over cause for celebration. And that is not lost on one longtime local gardening group as it readies for its annual plant extravaganza.
The Olde Ripton Garden Club has begun preparing for its annual plant sale — scheduled, as always for the weekend after Mother’s Day, on Saturday, May 18, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to noon in the St. Paul’s Church parking lot opposite Huntington Green.
The club has already purchased many perennials, which members spent the morning of Tuesday, April 23, potting at Hillside Gardens off Walnut Tree Hill Road. And the call has been made to members and residents alike for donations of plants for the sale, proceeds from which fund the club’s many townwide gardening and education efforts.
“This sale we’re preparing for now is our only major fund-raiser,” said club President Renee Protomastro. “The money we make funds everything else we do. It is critical for us.
“We take care of seven gardens in Shelton,” added Protomastro. “We decorate city buildings and schools for the holidays, and we provide garden therapy for senior citizens and youth garden programs at Shelton schools. We want to add another garden in front of the mayor’s sign at city hall. For this to happen, this sale needs to be a success.”
Protomastro said the club sold more than 500 plants last year, and the demand from garden lovers continues to grow each year. The sale features unusual perennials from member gardens, annuals, organic vegetable plants, houseplants, bake sale, homemade pickles and jellies, and Shelton City Flower plants.
“We started with just perennials, but since then we have added house plants, vegetable plants,” said Protomastro. “Students from (Shelton Intermediate School) are growing their own plants, from seeds they received from the club, and will have their own table at the sale this year. If we do not stay involved with the kids, and work with them at a young age, there will be no more gardeners.”
Protomastro said club members work with three schools — Booth Hill, Perry Hill and SIS — now, with assisting students with creating their own gardens.
The Olde Ripton Garden Club, a non-profit organization created in 1976, was founded to provide knowledge in the horticulture of flowers, vegetables and trees; further education in artistic design, landscaping, conservation, nature study, garden planning, and natural resource conservation; promote protection of the environment; and assist in beautifying streets, highways, and grounds around public buildings.
“All our members are extremely active,” said Protomastro. “We’re trying to grow the club.”
Protomastro said the club also presents the annual Julia Adams Scholarship to a Shelton High School student who plans to study horticulture, conservation or the environment as well as contributes to a scholarship sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of CT., Inc.
Club members also plant annuals, perennials, herbs and shrubs, purchased from local florists; weed, feed, cultivate, mulch, edge, and water in summer at city gardens; and refurbish and update gardens and seasonal decorations at the Huntington Green, Plumb Memorial Library, Shelton History Center Herb & Fragrance Garden; the Shelton Community Center perennial garden; the Huntington Post Office; and the entrance to Shelton High School.
The club also annually creates holiday decorations for numerous Shelton locations, including City Hall, the Shelton Community Center, the police station, Plumb Memorial and Huntington Branch libraries, the Shelton Senior Center, the Shelton History Center and 11 schools.
“We seek to create awareness of the environment,” said Protomastro. “If we don’t help promote that, people will forget how important the environment is to all of us.”
The Olde Ripton Garden Club meets each month, with meetings featuring speakers, a light lunch and activities. For more information on joining the club or donating plants to the plant sale, visit www.olderiptongardenclub.org or on Facebook at: facebook.com/SheltonORGC.