By EMMALEE C. TORISK
Roots of friendship sometimes spring up in the most unlikely places.
For one group of women, the Lowellville Garden Club, still blooming in its 84th year, was that place.
“We’ve grown together in friendship and in our plants,” said Patti Reitmann, the club’s president.
Established July 7, 1930, the Lowellville Garden Club hasn’t changed much since its inception.
Its purpose continues to encompass many things: stimulating the knowledge and love of gardening among amateurs, aiding in the protection of wildlife, encouraging civic planning and fostering beauty in the community, to name only a few.
Neither its colors (orchid and yellow) nor its flower (the forsythia, the first shrub to bloom in the spring) has changed.
And though members have come and gone throughout its history, a tight-knit circle of about 17 remains.
Reitmann, whose mother was “a true gardener” and a longtime club member, explained that 20-some years ago, she was approached by several older Lowellville Garden Club members at the village’s city hall. The club at that time was very close to dissolving, which they couldn’t bear to see happen. So, Reitmann and a handful of others stepped in.
“Even though we weren’t young, the club was young again,” she said. “We didn’t know a single thing.”
Happily, Reitmann reported, club members have learned a great deal since then, thanks to the field trips and workshops they often take part in.
They’ve visited Draime Estate Gardens in Warren and the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, both of which supplied members with ideas for their own home gardening.
They’ve also attended wine tastings — a grape vine counts as a plant, members said, laughing — and have attempted everything from basket weaving to making birdhouses out of gourds to creating bonsai gardens.
The club also has plant exchanges among members, constructs festive wreaths for area nursing homes and hosts an annual geranium sale, usually in May, that funds its activities for the remainder of the year.
Recent beautification projects include plantings of flowers in front of city hall and as part of a sign that displays village announcements.
Reitmann noted that the club meets monthly, with the exception of July and December, and that prospective members must be invited to join by an existing member.
Residency in Lowellville isn’t necessary for membership, however, and all ages are welcome.
The sole requirement is simply a love of gardening.
Carol Estok of Lowellville, who became a member about the same time as Reitmann, said she was drawn to the club by her desire to learn more about gardening.
Before joining, her gardening had been occasional and limited to “just around [the] house,” she added.
Membership in the Lowellville Garden Club means that Mary Leo of Austintown has “more [plants] that live than die now,” while Paula McLaughlin of Lowellville, the club’s vice president, can now identify all sorts of plants, and even the difference between annuals and perennials.
Trish Marciano of Boardman, the club’s treasurer, admitted she’d “always wanted to be in a garden club.”
Likewise, Mary Beth Cook of Youngstown, said she’s learned “an awful lot” since becoming part of the club. She’s also gained numerous benefits from membership, and in particular enjoys the companionship of the club’s other members.
“We’re all sisters,” added Reitmann. “We ended up really loving one another.”
Other members of the Lowellville Garden Club are Pattie Dalleske, Stella Durse, Joyce Ellashek, Regina Humphries, Joyce Mistovich, Linda Rotunno, Annie Saraceno, Debbie Schultz, Stephanie Sheely, Marlene Shirilla and Judy Taraba.