Garden Club celebrates its new officers Jean Smith, Sally Knurek
and Gail Morse. (West Life photo by Larry Bennet)
challenges of the past loom for a greener future
By Thea Steinmetz
Published May 27, 2009
challenges are far removed from 1963 when the Westlake Garden Club
was formed. Lillian Bialosky and nine other ladies decided that
this community was deserving a garden club. It was not only for
the purpose of knowing how to plant a few petunias or tomatoes in
the backyard, but also get actively involved in the community by
encouraging residents to be better stewards of their surroundings.
Here we are 45 years later, and Lillian is the only
founding member of the garden club still active.
At a recent luncheon honoring 11 past presidents, she shared
some of her memories. She received several awards, attesting to
her success not with only gardening, but civic involvement. Garden
Clubs of Ohio honored her, and so did the long gone Halle’s Department
Store. For her diligent work with the mentally disabled adults and
children, she was given the Volunteer of the Year Award. Other recognitions
followed and her love for the outdoors has never waned.
Lillian has an ongoing respect for nature and also
is a fine nature painter. She exhibited
at a popular one women show at the Porter Library.
Lu Walter, also a past president, has been one of
the more active members for many years. She has set the gold standard
for flower arranging, and her overall creative effort and contributions
to the club can not be measured. It sounds pedestrian to call her
a hard worker, and yet that describes her accurately. Her flower
work with young students has always been much appreciated. There
is a willingness to pitch in whenever asked, and that is a rarity.
For many years, Lu was the inspiration for the Cuyahoga County Fair
creative floral displays. It has not been the same since she decided
it should be in some other hands. Her biggest challenge came when
she was asked to represent the United States at the Chelsea Flower
Show. She returned with the Silver Medal and left everyone in awe.
The Hilliard Road Flower beds are another civic addition.
This was spearheaded for many years by Jackie Crosier, another past
president. City hall did not want to manage this now much appreciated beautification
project. She organized it with hands on help from many garden club
members. This is one project that has added great value to the appearance
Arbor Day is also observed yearly by the garden club
as organized by Kathy Molner, past president. For her and the club’s
efforts, Mayor Dennis Clough
presented a proclamation at this year’s tree planting ceremony at
Scholarships have been awarded for many years. The
club was also on the forefront with the concept of a reading garden
at the library and had a successful fund raiser for this undertaking.
The memorial garden at the Westlake Community Center is an ongoing
garden club project.
The newest change has come about recently. Westlake
Garden Club welcomed its first male member. Don Bowman, retired
from Northwest Airlines, is the most traveled member of the organization.
He graduated from Westlake High School in 1960, left town and has
now came back home. After spending a year in Saigon with the Air Force, and recently a year in retirement
in Prague just for the experience, he found time in-between to travel
to six continents. Asked why he wanted to join the garden club,
he answered simply: “I appreciate the good earth.”
It is not enough that spring is the busiest time for
gardeners. Now we can add challenges to the equation. The low temperatures
have added an extra dimension that is leaving dead plants in its
wake. As we coast toward the end of May, for us there is no sign
of global warming. In past years, we have felt fairly safe to add
tender plants for outside by Mother’s Day but this year the temperatures
will not stay in a comfortable range for many plants. The last time
this happened was in 1982.
Overall, as nature awakens, spring is such a glorious
time of year. If you blinked, you missed the saucer magnolias. The
viburnun bushes were splendid with their heady fragrance. While
I expected to admire them for a couple of weeks, I was shortchanged.
Even the primroses seemed to stay fresh for a shorter time.
The well established lilacs are another disappointment.
As they are older plants, they were cut back generously last year
in hopes of rejuvenating them. This was done at the proper time,
right after blooming. So, why aren’t they flowering this year? My
longed-for lilac perfume now comes from the row of the smaller lilacs,
“Miss Kim.“ All the branches are flowering in rich numbers.
At the plant sale this past weekend at the Rockefeller
Greenhouse, I had a chance to trade garden stories with several
visitors. I helped out in the Gardeners of America plant booth.
That always provides me with some new ideas and also a few laughs.
As expected, there were first time gardeners looking for vegetable
plants, having no idea what gardening entails. Several wanted tomato
plants, all the while pointing to parsley.
Experienced gardeners all had the same refrain regarding
the challenging winter we had. Let us hope that this summer will
be less of a challenge.