The Webster Garden Club is like the last rose of summer.
Perry once flourished with four garden clubs, each bringing beauty and fellowship to our neighborhoods. As seasons turned and tastes changed in leisure pursuits, the clubs withered one by one until now only the Webster Garden Club remains. The club formed in 1934, and the youngest of its nine members is now 73.
But the show — including the annual flower show — must go on, and Friday afternoon saw the tables in St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Perry laden with earthly beauties grown through the loving labor of the ladies of the Webster Garden Club.
Margaret Harden of Perry, who after 15 years is one of the Webster Garden Club’s more recent members, described the clubs activities.
“Originally, everybody’d share their plants, and we’d make arrangements,” Harden said. “The hostess made an arrangement and gave a program, in theory, on gardening. It was kind of an educational thing. But now it’s gotten so we eat desserts, and we talk, and we have a short program, but there aren’t a lot of people who are doing a lot of gardening now.”
The club will either recruit some new and younger members or slip away like Perry’s other garden clubs, Harden said. The story is similar with many of the once-numerous social groups in Perry — civics clubs like the Kiwanis and Lions, fraternal organizations like the Elks and Masons, religious groups like the Knights of Columbus and the Methodist Men, bowling leagues, sewing circles, business groups, softball leagues — all have seen their numbers dwindle and their members age.
Young people with other interests and other aims are off doing other things and few look to join the old groups.
The Webster Garden Club ladies, like most of the members of the other groups, sometimes lament their thinning ranks, but they seem to realize there is no resisting the evolution of society. People will do as they will. Many now choose to sit at home and look at their giant flat screens or fiddle with Facebook. They are social in a new way.
For now, the Webster Garden Club will keep growing their flowers and arranging their beauty without looking much beyond next spring.
“A lot of the members just physically can’t do it anymore,” Harden said, “and their gardens are getting smaller and small. I noticed with this year’s flower show that almost everybody had someone helping them carry.”
ThePerryNews.com photos by Margaret and Ray Harden