Poway in Bloom

Just like the gardens it nurtures, the Poway Valley Garden Club (PVGC) has grown and adapted throughout the years to serve and beautify the evolving Poway community. PVGC was founded by Gwen Stockes and 34 fellow charter members in 1961, and it’s been an integral part of local life ever since. Many favorite Powegian landmarks can be attributed to PVGC’s stewardship. From beautification to education, and fostering young student gardeners to brightening nursing homes, PVGC members are always busy making Poway a brighter place to live and play.

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Q&A with the Poway Valley Garden Club


Reinhold Mueller, Co-President
Interests: Gardening, travel, classical music, visits to local wineries, brewing beer

Suzy Foran, Co-President
Favorite Spots in 92064: Sudan Road (I’m the Su and my brother is Dan)

Ann Dahnke, 1st VP, Programs (Co-Chair)
Favorite Spots in 92064: Lake Poway, Blue Sky Reserve, Old Poway Park, and my own garden

Donna Kaptain, 1st VP, Programs (Co-Chair)
Favorite Spots in 92064: Lake Poway hiking trails, Old Poway Park

Janice Schock, Corresponding Secretary, Co-Chair of Old Poway Park Gardens
Interests: Gardening, grandkids, creative computing, teaching

Rosemary Anderson, Historian and Yearbook Co-Chair
Interests: Gardening, hiking, photography, decorating, working with children, and crafts

Marcia Clingman, Publicity Chairman
Favorite Spots in 92064: My yard and the hills that surround it

Emily Troxell, Parliamentarian & Flower Show Co-Chair
Interests: Fabric art, reading, woodworking, travel, gardening

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How is PVGC involved with the local community?

Ann Dahnke: From its inception in 1961, the club has been involved in beautifying the community. Much of the money raised in the early years went to beautification projects, such as school or church facilities, the grounds of the Poway Valley Riders Association, the San Pasqual Wild Animal Park, as well as the west entrance of Poway Rd. In 1973, the PVGC was asked to plant a rose garden at Lake Poway. That rose garden still thrives today. It is also the site of a Blue Star Byway Marker, honoring those in the armed services.

In 2003, the Nelson House Garden was created as a period garden, reflecting the plantings of the early 1900s. In 2006, a native-themed garden was planted around the statue in front of Templars Hall, demonstrating water-wise plantings. In 2014, the club established a pollinator garden in front of the Porter House. This garden showcases annuals and perennials that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. These gardens not only provide beautification, but are also used as demonstration gardens for our Garden University sessions.

Reinhold Mueller: We help support five school gardens in the Poway School District and have recently created a PVGC Youth Garden Club. These schools are our Schools of Excellence and are models for other existing and aspiring school gardens. The working motto is: “Don’t give them fish, but rather teach them how to fish!” PVGC is currently sponsoring five Schools of Excellence, all of which have a different theme:

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• Abraxas High School:
Aquaponics

• Chaparral Elementary:
Hawks Health Garden

• Innovations Academy:
Garden Classroom

• Rolling Hills Elementary:
Literacy Garden

• Painted Rock Elementary:
Edible Garden

These schools are organized into the Poway Valley Youth Garden Club (PVYGC), one of a few established Youth Clubs in California. PVYGC is registered with the California Garden Club, Inc. The CGCI Youth Club leader is Roy Wilburn (2017 Powegian of the Year). Youth Club activities include participation at selected PVGC plant sales, providing club members with information and updates on the latest development in school gardening. Abraxas High provides school garden produce for the Backyard Produce program to feed the poor. 2017 highlights include:

• Paving the way for many areas’ schools for produce from school gardens to be served at the school’s cafeterias. Chaparral Elementary has established protocols, and received clearance from the health department allowing to “eat at school what
you grow.”

• The Youth Club has won nine California Awards, two Pacific Region Awards, and one National Award, which helped PVGC win the California Sweepstakes Ribbon for the first time ever.
• The Youth Club educated Poway residents about seeding, transplanting, growing, and harvesting plants as part of the national celebration of Garden Week.

By educating our youth, we grow our future gardeners!

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What are PVGC’s primary goals?

Suzy Foran: Both long-term and short-term, we try to follow our club’s objectives: promote interest in gardening and related creative activities, improve and beautify our community, and provide garden education and information.

How do you go about fulfilling PVGC’s objectives?

Suzy: Experiencing our Standard Flower Show is always an inspiration and provides our members and the community an opportunity to showcase various flowers and plants from their own gardens. Poway Valley Garden Club took Sweepstakes last year, which means our club received more awards than any other club in the state of California.

The club’s members contribute the succulents and decorative containers for the dish gardens, as well as other plant material, that are sold to the public three times annually: Christmas in the Park, Spring Standard Flower Show, and Fourth of July. Customers can also get advice on how to care for the plants they purchase. Many of the plants we sell are “water-wise” and easy to grow. We have many satisfied repeat customers who come back every year for plants to add to their gardens.

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How did you personally become involved with PVGC?

Donna Kaptain: I joined the club a little over a year ago when I retired from the corporate world.
I traveled a great deal in my career and was looking for a way to reconnect with my community and learn something new, while also doing something I truly enjoy – gardening.

Suzy: I joined at the end of May 2012 while still working part-time. I wanted to share my love of gardening with other like-minded enthusiasts.

Janice Schock: I won a membership at a Sunshine Care raffle but was hesitant to go because I thought it might be an old lady’s garden club. It’s not.

Ann: I joined the club in 2008 because I love to garden and wanted to meet other gardeners. Not only have I grown as a gardener as a result, but I have made so many wonderful friends.

Rosemary Anderson: I joined the club in 2004 because I wanted to know more about gardening. My house was going to be tented, and I knew I would lose many of my plants. Not only do I now have a thriving, beautiful garden, I have made many wonderful friends in the garden club.

Marcia Clingman: I joined the club in 2011 after the garden club members toured my yard. They were very complimentary and didn’t point out all the errors I had made the last 24 years in landscaping. I thought it was time to learn how to do it right. Not only is my yard blooming, but so are my friendships.

Reinhold: My wife and I joined PVGC three years ago while volunteering at the Innovations Academy school garden. It was the lectures (Nan Sterman was the first speaker), the interesting field trips, and the personal attention I received (from Roy Wilburn and Joanie Espy) as a new member that sucked me in.

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What is the most rewarding thing about your role?

Suzy: Most rewarding is insight into all aspects of the club, from learning about the national organization to sharing the dazzling beauty of a plant with a co-member.

Reinhold: You can create beautiful designs and landscapes on the patio/balcony, in the garden,
in the community, or you may prefer to eat the plants you grow. A good club should provide a knowledge base for fulfilling your gardening goals and dreams and, at the same time, a club should foster companionship among its members.

Ann: The most rewarding thing is finding programs and speakers that excite and energize
the members.

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Donna: Our membership count has grown by more than 50% over the past five years, which indicates our programs and initiatives are enticing others in the community to join the club.

Janice: Our goal is to turn the Old Poway Park gardens into demonstration gardens. Rallying our many volunteers and seeing this goal met will be very rewarding.

Rosemary: The most rewarding thing about our garden club and my role is the wonderful friends I have made!

Marcia: It feels really great to inform the public about all the things the club does, but sometimes it is a little challenging to cover all areas of the club’s activities. You could be busy almost every day doing something with and for the garden club.

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Can you tell us about any other key members?

Janice Cydell is recording secretary and records the minutes of the club’s board and general meetings. Sylvia Ginsberg is second vice president and coordinates membership. DeAnne Cole is treasurer for the club. She manages all financial and budget responsibilities of the club. Emily Troxell is our parliamentarian. She is our resource person when the club has questions regarding rules and regulations. We have strict guidelines as we are a 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization.

Colleen Michell joined in 1984, making her the longest current member. She joined the club after seeing a notice in the local newspaper. She has served in many of the club’s positions, including past president, and continues to be an active member. Colleen and her husband care for and maintain the climbing rose next to the Nelson House.

How has PVGC changed over the years?

Janice: As the club has gotten larger, we have become more diverse in our interests. Recently, we added two new programs: Garden University for members who like to hone their gardening skills, and the Artisan Group for those who enjoy crafting.

Rosemary: In 1961, we started with 34 members and met in individual homes. Today, we are over 100 members. The resources within our club have greatly expanded. We now have many Master Gardeners, flower show judges, teachers, and very knowledgeable gardeners both young and old to share and help our members with gardening and contribute to the club’s projects.

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What have been some of PVGC’s most memorable projects?

Donna: Our flower shows are always memorable! Last year we added photography and had a tremendous response from the public. We also have an annual spring plant sale on the same day, which is very popular. It is an event for the entire community.

Rosemary: Decorating a Christmas tree for December Nights. Our Disney-themed tree was a favorite with visitors, and many had their family Christmas card photo taken in front of it.
Community outreach, providing flower arrangements to senior homes and schools, has always been an important project for our club. In 2005, it expanded after a local retailer started donating plants and flowers to our club. Since then, many bouquets of smiles have been given to people that needed one.

What projects has PVGC worked on recently?

Janice: Plans for the Volunteer Appreciation Garden, located on the north side of the Nelson House, have been discussed with Old Poway Park staff.

In September, the club held a design charrette with the goal of upgrading the plantings around Templars Hall. The design was approved by the city planning department and a grant has been submitted to National Garden Clubs. Stay tuned – Templars Hall garden may be getting a new look.

Can you tell us about your upcoming Flower Show?

Emily Troxell: The annual Standard Flower Show is a major community educational project. The aim is to showcase what can happen with the horticulture that enhances our community. This year’s show will have four major divisions. Horticulture will feature plants that grow well in the San Diego area; Designs will explore various ways that this plant material can be incorporated into our homes; Special Exhibits features educational displays; and Creative Crafts will include photography, which will expand on this idea.

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How would somebody go about joining PVGC?

Criteria for membership are simply an interest in gardening and a desire to commune with other gardeners while promoting the club’s objectives. We offer membership applications at all meetings and also a printable form online. Dues currently are $30 per year. We welcome visitors to attend the general meetings. Our schedule of speakers is listed on our website.

Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers?

Donna: The club appeals to a broad demographic of members who share a common love and interest in gardening. Members include young and old, retired and working, men and women. We enjoy learning about a variety of topics, not only related to plant material, but also design, conservation, attracting birds and pollinators, composting, to name a few. There is always something new and interesting to learn or inspire you to try something different in your garden.

Reinhold: The young generation always challenges the old. How can we eat more healthily, how can we save water, are there plants that can deal better with the current climate? It is very important to create favorable conditions for an effective dialog between generations.


Poway Valley Garden Club Presents:

A Standard Flower Show and Plant Sale Featuring Succulent Gardens, Garden Art, and Select Plant Material

Theme: Celebrate San Diego
Where: Old Poway Park, 14134 Midland Rd.
When: April 14
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Entries: Go to www.powayvalleygardenclub.org/flower-show for details. Entries are Thursday 5 to 7 p.m. and Friday 8 to 10 a.m. in the Porter House at Old Poway Park. The show is free and easily accessible, with no entry fee.

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Poway Valley Garden Club

Mailing Address: 10309 Pinecastle St., San Diego, CA 92131
Meeting Location: Templars Hall
Phone: 858-231-7899
Website: www.powayvalleygardenclub.org
Email: PVGC@outlook.com