Garden Club beautifies Long Beach
By Taylor McKay Hathorn
After a date change due to the freezing temperatures that swept across the state in mid-February, the Long Beach Garden Club hosted its Arbor Day commemoration at F.E.T.C.H. Park, the town’s dog park. Two members of the Long Beach Tree Board were on hand during the festivities to present the Club with a flag and a plaque from the Arbor Day Foundation acknowledging the group’s thirty-year commitment to planting trees in the coastal community.
“It was really a surprise,” Long Beach Garden Club President Debbie Cox says of the recognition. “It was an honor.”
After the presentation, the Club presented an honor of their own: a live oak tree planted in honor of Officer Kerry Hall, an animal control officer with the City of Long Beach. Wendy Wagner, the founder of Batman Animal Rescue Foundation, spoke during the tree-planting ceremony, sharing her memories of Hall’s work with her own cat, Batman, who was a rescue animal that Hall rehabilitated.
Hall is not the first person to be honored in this way, as the Long Beach Garden Club has planted two trees in memory of coastal residents, and just last year, the Club planted a tree in a different area of the dog park in honor of Barbara Reed, the park’s founder. While Cox says that the Club “hasn’t decided yet” if the tree dedications will be a yearly event for the horticulture enthusiasts, the Club has plenty of other events to keep them busy throughout the year.
“Our organization is committed to doing projects in the city itself,” Cox says of the group she’s spearheaded for the last six years. One such project is the garden that the Club maintains near Long Beach’s children’s library, where they also host events during the summer reading program for area youth. Last year, the reading program was a drive-through due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Club was undeterred, providing children with bags of sunflower seeds to plant, along with a plethora of sunflower-themed crafts.
Cox notes that Club members also try to educate themselves, as the group holds monthly educational meetings on different phases of gardening, such as herbs, vegetables and florals. Sessions on floral design have been a favorite amongst Club members, with the group donating their creations to area nursing homes at the end of such sessions.
“Some people say, ‘We don’t know enough!’ when they talk about joining, but that’s the reason to be in the garden club,” Cox concludes.
Long Beach residents interested in joining the Garden Club can message the group on Facebook at “Long Beach (Miss.) Garden Club.” The group’s next meeting will feature a beekeeper, who is scheduled to discuss planting tips for gardeners hoping to attract honeybees.