Plenty to celebrate: From left, past president Jean Britton, current president Jennie Burt and life member Joan Allan

Wakatipu Garden Club has become a bit of a hardy perennial itself.

Tomorrow it’s celebrating its 60th anniversary with a lunch at the Arrowtown Lifestyle Village, making it one of the oldest local clubs around.

According to founding member Joan Allan, who was made a life member at the club’s 40th anniversary lunch, it started from a group of young mums, mainly farming wives, who would meet during stints at the maternity home and help out with each other’s gardens.

Allan says a neighbour, Ron Gordon, said to her, ‘why not start a garden club?’

The club held its inaugural meeting on April 1, 1964, and voted in Gordon as its first president.

There were 26 members to start with, subs were set at five shillings a year, and the club’s aims were ‘‘to promote the standard of gardening and floral work of its members’’.

Members at the second meeting called their club the Arrowtown District Gardening Club, but that changed to Wakatipu Garden Club in 1968.

The club has regularly hosted high-powered speakers including English garden designer Julian Dowle, after he’d been in Auckland judging the Ellerslie Flower Show, and Florence Preston, who wrote a book, From Rocks to Roses, on a former garden in Queenstown’s Gorge Rd, Creagmhor, which Allan says was the most beautiful she’s seen in her life.

In the early days, members brought plants for swapping at each meeting and, if they didn’t, paid a small fee for the club to acquire plants.

This way, many members established gardens for very little cost.

Membership peaked at 265 in 1997, and is still a healthy 108.

Projects have included funding a rock garden in Queenstown Gardens and replanting gardens around Paradise Lodge, near Glenorchy.

Current president Jennie Burt, who notes members still swap plants, says the club brings together people with a common interest.

‘‘Times have changed, women are working more so have less time in the garden.

‘‘Garden design has changed because people are going to more easy-care gardens, and in a lot of [subdivisions] you’re told what you can plant.

‘‘But for people who love gardening and plants, even if they don’t garden themselves, they enjoy learning about it.’’

Burt says the club tries to support a project every year — in 2022 they gave Arrowtown disability support centre Living Options $1000 to plant a garden with support from Bunnings.

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