Local garden clubs host district meeting Thursday

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Green-thumbed outdoor enthusiasts from across southwest Michigan will gather inside the Mathews Conference Center at Southwestern Michigan College Thursday, as The Grand Old City hosts the annual Michigan Garden Clubs District III Fall meeting.

Offered that day from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the meeting, entitled “Autumn Gathering,” will bring together around 250 members representing nearly 40 garden clubs from across the region, from communities such as Niles, Buchanan, Kalamazoo, Three Rivers and St. Joseph. Following a meeting to discuss club business in the morning, attendees will have a chance to listen to two special presentations, visit booths from local vendors and win door prizes.

Organizing the event this year are members from both of Dowagiac’s garden clubs, Town and Country and Wabigon, who have been working for more than a year to put on the meeting, which hasn’t been hosted in Dowagiac in decades, said Town and Country Club President Kathy Johnson. It’s the first project the two clubs have taken on together in their history, the president said.

“It’s been hugely challenging, but on the other hand, it’s been equally rewarding,” Johnson said. “We’ve fused together as a team for this purpose, and it’s been great.”

The pair of clubs have arranged for two special guest speakers, both from around the local area, to give presentations Thursday.

The first is Wendy Jones, the head naturalist at Buchanan Fernwood Botanical Gardens, who is scheduled to speak at 11 a.m. In her talk, entitled “It’s a Busy Bird World in the Fall,” Jones will discuss the activities that local bird species do during the fall to prepare for the winter season.

“Many of our gardeners are also bird enthusiasts, so it kind of goes together,” Johnson said.

The afternoon talk, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m., will feature Andy Jackson with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. In her presentation, entitled “Medicine Gathering Woman,” Jackson will discuss the ancient Potawatomi traditions of gathering herbs and plants for medicine.

Joining Jackson at the meeting will be a number of Pokagan band musicians, who will perform for attendees throughout the day, Johnson said.

“It’s a really unique opportunity for Dowagiac to bring this forth to other people in Michigan, who may not have been aware of these wonderful traditions and stories that Andy brings to her talk,” she said.

In between programs, visitors will be able to purchase items from area crafters, planters and growers participating in the event. Attendees will also have a chance to win door prizes and receive take-home gift bags, featuring items and deals from dozens of local businesses.