HURTLING DOWN THE FREEWAY AT 65 MPH, one may catch a glimpse of patches of sunny daffodils scattered about the freeway entrances and exits at Trinidad. Locals who dispose of their recyclables in the bins across from the Chevron station see large cement troughs filled with daffodils, irises or Mary Banks roses. Tourists may notice the attractive landscaping around the State Historical Marker that overlooks the bay. Kwanzan flowering cherry trees grace portions of city property.
The gardeners responsible for these planned acts of beauty are members of the Patrick's Point Garden Club, a group of industrious women whose mission is to beautify Trinidad. Through a yearly garden tour and plant sale, the group raises money to buy plants, bulbs and hire a gardener to aid in the care of the cherry trees. In addition, community members, along with the Trinidad Civic Club, help the women install plantings. Imagine digging the holes for 3,000 daffodils in rock- hard freeway soil.
President Loma Burkett explains: "Well, we're not really a social club. We do field trips to places that have different kinds of plants to learn about them, and we have two big fundraisers. The garden tour happens on Mother's Day and the plant sale comes the week before Father's Day when they (the city of Trinidad) have the fish fry," Burkett explained.
This spring's sixth annual garden tour, which occurs Sunday, May 9, features six gardens from Trinidad to Big Lagoon. Those who attend the tour will see a rustic garden, a seaside plant collector's garden, an ocean bluff garden at the Lost Whale Inn, a border garden, a seaside slope garden and a woodland garden.
It is a time for family fun, according to Burkett.
"A lot of people take their mothers out to lunch and then they go to the garden tour where at one of the homes there is a tea with scones, cookies and coffee."
Last year Burkett said the tour grossed approximately $1,000 and plant sale another $1,000. "We are always doing different beautification projects in Trinidad," Burkett said.
The beautification committee, headed by Mary Wilbur, is responsible for planting the projects.
"The beautification committee has been very active. Mary is the instigator of many of the projects. We planted cherry trees on city property throughout the town, and we now pay a gardener to prune and water them. We bought the trees out of funds from our fundraisers and partial donation from California Releaf."
Wilbur applied for a $5,000 grant from California Releaf, a statewide organization that helps towns with beautification projects. As a result 25 "Kwanzan" flowering cherry trees grace portions of city property.
"We finally had to pay a gardener to water and prune the trees because many of us are getting too old to do it," Burkett explained.
The garden club sprouted in 1962 and today there are two founding members remaining, Hazel Matson and Irene Shultz, both in their mid-80s, and no longer active in the club. Although not a founding member, 83-year-old Cora Wachter, a Humboldt County native, joined the club early on. "It started out mostly as a study group, but we also did some landscaping around the Big Lagoon School," Wachter said. She recalled the club's first major project, installing a native garden at Patrick's Point State Park in 1973.
"It was a large garden that we needed to maintain, all native trees, shrubs and perennials. A lot of the plants were growing there already, but some things we brought in. It was a very big job. The park would help us with the trails, putting in the chips, but we had to maintain it," Wachter said.
Notable plants such as creek dogwood, red huckleberry, Douglas spiraea, Bolander's phacelia and silk tassel bush figure among the many native plants located in the garden. Burkett remembers visiting the garden years ago before she moved to the area. "I remember going to visit it as a tourist before I ever moved here. They gave us a tour of the garden and it was impressive. They (the club) had concentrated a lot of native plants in a nice garden," she said.
Today the native garden is part of the Native American Village and maintained by the park. Members of the club are no longer physically capable of maintaining the garden on a regular basis. "It was just a matter of us fizzling out. We got older and we just couldn't do it anymore. For health reasons some weren't able to go there. It just got to be too much," Wachter said.
Over the years the club as had its ups and downs in membership, but today it is going strong. There are approximately 20 active members, according to Burkett. At their monthly meetings the women have a garden lesson after attending to business. They ponder garden projects and have question-and-answer session about plants.
"The newer members have been the spark of this Trinidad beautification, the plant and the garden tour. It's the younger members who have kept that going and they do the majority of the work," said Wachter. "It's a strong club."
If you are interested in attending this year's garden tour, visit any local nursery and pick up a map. Look for a pink brochure tucked in a handcrafted little box covered with floral printed paper. Suggested donation is $5 per person, and families, $10. You can pay at any garden.
TOP: Members of the Patrick's Point Garden Club admire their landscaping around a State Historical marker overlooking Trinidad Bay.
BOTTOM: Members of the Patrick's Point Garden Club.
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