For most residents of Granite Falls, the beautiful floral gardens than adorn iconic sites such as the Volstead House or the downtown plaza area are often taken as a given. They’ve been there for so long, that most just accept them as a permanent fixture of the city.
It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that the gardens are actually the work of local volunteer garden enthusiasts. Together, they form the Lady Slippers Garden Club, and for nearly 20 years, they have been quietly beautifying Granite Falls with their many gardens and floral arrangements.
The organization was founded in 1999 with 18 original members. The idea arose between a group of women whose passion was gardening. They wanted to use this passion to positively impact their own community. The organization quickly grew, and they are now responsible for maintaining five separate gardens (the Volstead House, the Fire Hall, the downtown plaza, and the Cenex Station).
According to member Mary Kelly, the organization invests roughly 800 hours every year working on the gardens. The women receive support from the City of Granite Falls in the form of an annual donation of $2,000 which is used to pay for soil, seeds, and equipment. Nevertheless, maintaining the gardens is a major commitment, especially for women who also spend time working on their own personal gardens.
“It’s a real service to the community,” Kelly said, adding that the club receives many positive comments from impressed residents. In addition to their work on the public gardens, the club also holds monthly meetings and organizes special events for its members.
Recently, the group toured Bobby Svobodny’s large garden on Baldwin Street on the east bank of the Minnesota River. They have also participated in excursions to other gardens elsewhere in the state. In recent years, however, the Lady Slippers Garden Club has experienced a decline in membership, putting greater strain on the dozen or so remaining members.
Kelly worries that the situation will only get worse as more members retire or become too old to help with the gardens. “People think it is a real asset,” Lady Slipper member Jan Wambeck said. She hopes that more residents will become interested in joining, even if they aren’t able to assist with the actual gardening. She went on to say that keeping this important organization afloat will help maintain the gorgeous floral gardens that make Granite Falls such a uniquely beautiful place to live.
Local gardening enthusiasts are encouraged to reach out for more information about joining. For more information, please contact Mary Kelly at 320-564-2440.