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Clinton Garden Club keeps park in bloom

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ANN MARIE AMES
June 23, 2011
— It was one of those muggy June mornings when you sweat just sitting in the shade.

So the members of the Clinton Garden Club didn't rush into their weeding duties. They talked for a while in the language of gardeners about alternative methods of weed control and what to do with lemon balm.


Briefly, they whipped out cameras for shots of a swallowtail butterfly as it swooped around a mock orange shrub.


One by one, they broke from the group and buried themselves in the long, narrow garden along the southern edge of Herb Reffue Park in Clinton. The weeds piled up behind them, and the discoveries piled up, too. It was a treasure hunt of sorts.


One gardener discovered a patch of sedum. Another found freshly bloomed peony blossoms on plants with faded flowers. Others debated the names of flowers found growing among the overgrown hydrangeas.


Bit by bit, the Clinton Garden Club is taking its garden back.


The club in 1953 planted the peonies and other perennial flowers. Some of the original plants remain in the garden along with others that have been donated over the years.


By 2007, club membership had dwindled to three, and the garden was getting overgrown. In 2008, interest in the garden was revived, and membership has blossomed to nearly 20, club President Sue Phillips said.


This is the second summer the club has worked to improve the garden. Some overgrown perennials will be divided and some plants moved. This summer, members plan to place a bench in the shade at one end of the garden.


"At first, I wanted to dig it all up and start over," Phillips said. "But the group decided against it. There are a lot of heirloom plants in there that only Hazel (Vick) knows the name of."


Vick lives in Clinton and was a founding member of the club and continues to participate.


The club meets monthly at the Clinton Senior Center. Outings are scheduled on occasion, and workdays are held about three times in a growing season.


Most club members live in or near Clinton, although one woman travels from Elkhorn to garden with her friends.


The modest garden has beautified Herb Reffue Park for so long that many residents forgot it was there, said Clinton resident and club member Vicki Swinconos.


"I think most of us who have grown up in Clinton have enjoyed this," Swinconos said. "But it was not really something to pay attention to until I joined the garden club."


IF YOU GO
What: Daylily pollination demonstration
When: 9 a.m. Saturday, June 25.
Where: Nu-Era Daylilies, 8245 E. State Line Road, Clinton.
Details: Bob Kietzman will talk about how and when to pollinate daylilies.
For more information: Call (262) 296-1873.
Cost: Free
What: Monthly meeting of the Clinton Garden Club
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 28.
Where: Clinton Senior Center, 508 Front St., Clinton.
For more information: Call (608) 718-1611.

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