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Notes from the Paynesville Historical Society. . .

Flowers Growers Club stimulated knowledge and love of gardening
By Dolores Hislop

The flower show held recently at the Grace United Methodist Church was a display of technique and beauty presented by the flower growers in our area. The people of Paynesville have been interested in gardening, in flower displays they could obtain from flower plantings, and also have been interested in improving the town of Paynesville.

The result of this interest was the formation of the Paynesville Flower Growers Club in 1932. The purpose of the club was to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening among amateur gardeners. They also wanted to have native trees and plants planted in home yards and carried over to civic plantings of trees and plants for the town's people and guests to enjoy. The plant-ings would encourage birds to come to yards and the study of birds, their habits, and identity was incorporated into the club.

The meetings were scheduled once a month on the first Thursday except the three months of November, December, and January. During the summer months, field trips to member's gardens and other places were planned.

Committees were formed to do various things. The civic committee specifically was to encourage the beautification of the landscape of the city and to cooperate with all the community garden efforts. The exchange committee assisted the members in exchanging shrubs, plants, bulbs, and seeds. The program committee provided the programs for club meetings and the exhibit committee was in charge of all flower shows and exhibits.

The presidents during the various years included Mrs. R. Schwartz, Mrs. L.W. Kannenberg, Miss Victoria Gale, Mrs. Frank Behr, Mrs. George Andrews, and Dr. E.D. Brown. Other officers included Mrs. C.J. Dunton, Mrs. J.B. Wright, Charles Zapf, Hazel Klampe, and J.J. Robbins.

In 1935, there was a flower show at city hall in the library room. There was no admission fee, however, ice cream and cake were served for a donation to defray expenses. Winners were many with familiar names as Mrs. J. Jerabek, Mrs. W. Bugbee, Frank Brown, Mrs. C.E. Gesme, Mrs. C.C. Tolman, and Mrs. L. Kannenberg listed along with many others from Paynesville.

The meetings themselves were interesting as they featured topics given by members of the club. One meeting included talks on shrubbery, rock gardens, lily pools, and lilac growing. Poems were read and musical selections by various members were performed. Club members were encouraged to take part in the meetings and give reports of their efforts. The result was the beautification of their yards and the town of Paynesville and they also encouraged other residents to do likewise so Paynesville would become an attractive place to live and visit.

The club was connected to the Minnesota Horticulture Society and their magazine featured the Paynesville Flower Growers Club in 1936. The article stated there were 38 members in the club which held regular business meetings, had programs of music, talks, and discussions. A plant and shrub sale had taken place in May and several garden tours were done in July.

At one meeting, the members were encouraged to identify about 40 trees and shrubs grown in the community. Arranging flowers was demonstrated at meetings. This article also related a birdhouse and garden trellis contest for children in the grades. The article specifically gave credit to Mrs. J.B. Wright who had built an indoor rock garden using a large variety of plants, rock formations, and shells from many parts of the state. From this article, it appears the Paynesville Flower Growers Club was involved with the community and was interested in many things.

It is interesting to compare what was done in the 1930s to the present time. There is still community pride in the gardens of individual homes and in the town areas where plants and trees have beautified the streets, business places, and parks. The seeds of the Paynesville Flower Growers Club have produced a place of beauty in Paynesville that we all enjoy and the recent flower show was indeed the center of attention for all the efforts of Paynesville gardeners.

There is an album at the historical museum, which contains articles, pictures of members, and interesting facts about the Paynesville Flower Growers Club. The before and after pictures of some of the yards are especially interesting and depict the improvement of the gardener. There are many other exhibits in the museum of interest for you to enjoy. Please come and visit.

The museum is in need of a photo copier as people are using the museum and want pictures and genealogy information. If you have one to donate, please contact the curator, Bertha Zniewski, or the historical museum. We also are asking for volunteers to assist in the exchange of ideas for exhibits and volunteers to change exhibits. Help to renew an interest in the museum for yourself and the people of Paynesville so items can be displayed in a new way. Call the historical museum or Bertha Zniewski if you or your organization are interested.