Club spotlight: Poway Valley Garden Club finding ways to blossom amid pandemic

The Poway Valley Garden Club presidents said the club is finding ways to meet up and share members’ love of gardening despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Carolyn Larsen and Stephanie Persson took over as co-presidents in June.

The club was founded in 1961 and works to promote gardening within the community, as well as to improve and beautify the community, Larsen said. It also is “majorly into education,” she added.

“It’s probably one of the most active garden clubs in the community,” Larsen said.

Health restrictions have changed club meetings, but the members are making the effort to stay social and involved. The club’s monthly meetings have transitioned to Zoom, including classes and guest speakers, Larsen said.

She said an example is the club holding an online gardening class for members via Zoom with a PowerPoint presentation. The following day, a club member opened her home garden to small groups of four to six people at a time, so club members could visit and see the garden. She did this for a week, Larsen said. The club members received clippings from the member’s garden and were able to have a hands-on mini-class, Persson added.

“We’re trying to navigate this pandemic the best we can,” Persson said.

While the club’s monthly, in-person meetings are typically three hours long, Larsen and Persson said people cannot sit in front of a computer screen for that long, so the Zoom meetings are about 1 ½ hours, with 30 minutes of club business and an hour for the guest speaker.

The club has 127 members, something Larsen and Persson said they find encouraging.

“We’re encouraged by the club being alive, and thriving, and having new members join during a pandemic,” Persson said.

It has grown in membership over the past 10 years, Larsen said. She attributes the growth to how active the club is and people wanting to be involved with that activity.

Larsen and Persson said their motto for the club this year is “Preservation, Persistence and Possibility.” This reflects their desire to preserve the club’s beautification and community service projects, persist with providing interesting and educational topics and outings, and create endless possibilities for the club and the local community, they said.

The club is involved with many projects around the community, including maintaining several gardens at Old Poway Park. These are the gardens outside Templars Hall, the orchard, the butterfly garden, the Nelson House flower garden and volunteer appreciation garden. It also maintains the Lake Poway Rose Garden.

Members also work hands-on with residents of Cadence at Poway Gardens, a memory care community in Poway. On the fourth Friday of each month, members engage in horticultural activities with residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Some club members are also involved with the Poway Valley Youth Garden Club, which supports several local school gardens and works with students.

The club holds several fundraisers every year, in order to raise money for scholarships and donate to Penny for Pines, which replants trees in California’s national forests. The fundraisers are the club’s annual Flower Show, usually held in April, and booths selling plants and related items at Poway’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July and Christmas in the Park events.

The flower show and Fourth of July events were not held this year due to the pandemic. Persson said the club is coming up with ways to collect donations.

The presidents said they want to keep their members connected, maintain camaraderie and friendship while they are prevented from meeting as a large group. They also want to support their members, Larsen added.

“We know a lot of people are lonely,” she said. “So, we’re doing mini-classes to get people together in small groups.”

Persson said most of all, she and Larsen want to build upon what the club already has and make it the best possible for the members.

“Our goal is to build up and retain what was built in the past,” she said. “It’s going to be different this year, but we’re adapting with Zoom and (mini-classes). The possibilities are endless.”

Club dues are $30 a year and are paid in June. For more information and to join, visit or email [email protected]

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