The Garden Club of Orange held its popular annual fundraising May Market and Bake Sale on the Town Green recently, featuring numerous locally grown perennials, baked goods and artisan gifts.

The club, which boasts 40-50 active members, hosts the successful May Market in conjunction with Mother’s Day each spring. The event featured locally grown perennials from members’ gardens as well as homemade baked goods, handmade concrete stepping stones, garden gloves, and terrariums filled with lovely succulents as well as providing an opportunity to meet the clubs newest member - Flora, the purple cow.

Proceeds raised at the May Market help to support the club with its continued year-round beautification projects throughout the Town of Orange. The club was founded in 1930 and is a member of The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc., the National Exchange Club and the New England Garden Club, member of the National Garden Clubs, Inc.

“We are a very hard working garden club, we are very active in the community,” said club president Linda Bradford. “We plant flowers and bulbs in the spring and around the holidays we decorate the town with wreaths and we are one of the clubs that decorate the Historic House and Museum in Derby.”

Members donate many hours of service to promote civic and environmental responsibility. The club is home to award-winning members who have been honored with numerous state awards and Certificates of Achievement, and the club recently received a Lions Club grant, which was used to purchase metal markers and labels for the kitchen herb garden (26 varieties of herbs) located at the historic Stone Otis House. The herb garden (open to public viewing) is said to have been brought back to its former magnificence from when the Orange Historical Society won the Federated Garden Club of Connecticut award for Best Herb Garden in the State.’ The club works closely with the Orange Historical Society and the club’s newsletters and yearbooks too have won first place accolades.

“A lot of the clubs across America have what they call a May Market Day, they bring plants that they have grown to sell and that helps raise funds for our monthly programs where we bring experts in to teach us. The goal of the garden club is to educate the community civically and horticulturally, we also hold floral design classes,” explained Marion Rizzo, past president and 20-year club member. “It’s a learning experience for us as well as for members of the community. It’s a very active club; we try to get involved in as many things as possible. We have our Holiday House Tour in December which is a major fundraiser for us. We are just one part of bigger organizations.”

“The May Market is an annual event we host around Mother’s Day and it’s one of our biggest fundraisers of the year,” explained Lisa Stackpole, co-chair (with Pat Nizen) of Ways & Means. “We club members all participate, we go into our own gardens and split as many plants as we can and we sell them here, in addition to our home baked goods sale and this year, we made stepping steps and terrariums. Our First Selectman Jim Zeoli has a farm in town called Shamrock Farms and every year he brings his wagon over and we sell some of his plants; it’s a group effort.”

“The other thing we do which I think is really neat,” continued Rizzo, “is we have a garden therapy committee which means we have a group that goes to the Orange Rehab Center here in town once a month and we work with the patients creating a craft or getting them to do something nice. They really do some wonderful work. Monies we raise we use to maintain the green and we also occasionally give scholarships to worthy recipients.”

Connecticut is home to more than 6,500 Garden Club members who volunteer their time to coordinate, stimulate and encourage higher standards in all aspects of Garden Club work and to protect and conserve our natural resources, preserve our heritage and promote civic beauty.

“We are a community organization and we love to promote the use of natural home grown plants,” explained club member Violet Nastri. “Plants that are native to our own backyards are what we dig and share and sell so people will have native species that will flourish in their own yards. The proceeds help to support the many activities in the communities we are involved with. Every month we do projects at the nursing home and plant flowers on the Town Green, maintain gardens throughout the town and we have a herb garden behind the historical building and we also help with many of the national projects that are run by the Federated Garden Clubs of America.”

Six new members will be installed into the Garden Club of Orange in June.