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(Virtual) Garden Party

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Like many other organizations, the Santa Fe Garden Club has made the painful decision to cancel its signature event, which was scheduled for mid-July, because of fears about the coronavirus.

There’s only been one other time in the past 81 years that the “Behind Adobe Walls” tour was canceled, according to past club president Enid Tidwell, and that was during World War II.

Tidwell is in the process of preparing refunds for the event, whose $85 tickets raise money for such local groups as the Santa Fe Watershed Association, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust and Amigos Bravos.

It’s a difficult time. But Tidwell has had a floral pick-me-up to lift her spirits.

On April 22, spring flowers were shipped overnight from Florabundance in Santa Barbara, California, to select members of the garden club, who then arranged the flowers and shared photos of their creations with each other. Each designer received the same type of flowers: blue veronica, ranunculus, anemones, snap dragons, green mini-hydrangea, salal tips and ivy.

The virtual event, which was coordinated by floral design committee chair Anne May, was dubbed “Distant Floral Design.” A similar event will take place this month, Tidwell said.

Last month’s participants were Anne Boden, Jan Denton, Lana Holifield, Liz Lively, Jackie McFeely, Suzey Rhodes, Polly Wotherspoon and Tidwell.

Some of the floral designers used pitchers or vases that were painted by women in the past century, a hobby that Tidwell said allowed homemakers to bring in extra income to the household.

While Tidwell hailed the floral design project, she was quick to point out that the Santa Fe Garden Club, which has 40 members, is actively involved in conservation and other environmental issues.

“We’re not just ladies who arrange flowers. We’re a working group,” she said.

According to Tidwell, club members played an important role in getting Valles Caldera designated as a national preserve in 2000 by President Bill Clinton. “We called legislators and went around to lobby,” said Tidwell, who hails from Farmington and moved to Santa Fe in 1994.

She noted that, although Farmington is known for natural resources extraction and energy production, in her youth, agriculture was the dominant industry. Tidwell grew up on an apple farm.

In addition to the floral design committee, the Santa Fe Garden Club has two other standing committees – one for horticulture and the other for conservation, Tidwell said.

The organization, which is one of roughly 200 affiliates of the Garden Club of America, was founded in 1939. Among its outreach activities is maintaining the courtyard garden at the New Mexico Museum of Art on the Santa Fe Plaza. “We go every week and keep that garden looking beautiful,” Tidwell said.

The Santa Fe Garden Club has worked with the Santa Fe Botanical Garden on Museum Hill since its inception in 1987 and wrote one of the first checks when ground was broken. The club has two named sections in the garden and has given over $500,000, from both the club’s coffers and its individual members, according to Tidwell.

“We are pleased to be able to support our wonderful botanical garden with its conservation and educational goals. It is a wonderful place for all of us to see what can be done so effectively with little water,” she said.

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