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This article first appeared in the November 18, 2015 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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Hills gardeners celebrate 30 years of fun

By Ben Bulmer

It's a celebration for those with green thumbs all over the Gatineau Hills.

The Gatineau Valley Gardeners are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, and to honour the hard work and dedication of the club's members past and present, the group is holding a party on Nov. 23 at Galerie Old Chelsea.

"A small group decided that more information was needed... so they started this club," said Gatineau Valley Gardeners president Lynne Evenson.

Diane Renaud founded the club in 1985, says Evenson, adding, "we will be honouring her at our event."

Hills gardeners
Six of the founding members of the Gatineau Valley Gardeners celebrate the clubs 10th anniversary in 1995. From left: The late Judy White, Diane Renaud, Jan Gray, Shirley Brown, Carol Decker, and Ann Ginns. Photo courtesy Lynne Evanson.

Although Renaud only counts herself as a founding member: "I was one of many," she said. Renaud says she never thought about whether the club would be around in 30 years time when it started.

"Gardening was becoming a passion for many people," said Renaud, who is still an avid gardener. "Exchanging ideas and seeing what other people were doing - that was the purpose."

From its inception, one of the club's main focuses has been to bring in speakers each month to talk about different aspects of gardening. This tradition still continues to this day, says Evenson, who credits the quality of the talks as one of many reasons why the club has not only lasted but continues to grow.

The club has hosted many different events and competitions over the years, including one when someone submitted a black bra containing large tomatoes.

"That was a funny evening," said Renaud. "There were lots of unusual arrangements of flowers and vegetables," she said, adding that the bra won the prize, although she doesn't think that particular competition ever ran again.

The Gatineau Valley Gardeners have some very knowledgeable members but is open to all levels of ability and expertise.

"The nice thing about the garden club is members who don't know much and are learning about gardening...can sit and talk to other members," she said.

On top of monthly talks from experts and advice from members, one of the things the club does is offer opportunities for members to open their gardens up to the public and show them off, although Evenson says this isn't as simple as it seems.

"Usually people have very beautiful gardens, but no one's ever happy with their own garden," said Evenson. "People tend to be bashful and say 'oh no, my garden is not good enough'." Often a little arm-twisting is needed, says Evenson, and she cites herself as a perfect example of someone who's never quite satisfied.

"Gardens are always a work in progress, and they always evolve and change," she said. "If I could, I would spend 24 hours a day in the garden...and [it] never looks good enough."

But Evenson, who's been a member of the club for over 20 years, says regardless of the never-ending nature of gardening, the whole process is still very rewarding.

"I just find it very calming... I love it when you plant a seed and watch what comes out of the ground and what's produced in the end."

Evenson is optimistic about the club's future, saying that people will always be interested in gardening.

"Gardening, like anything, changes over time," she said. "It's always an experiment and experiments change," and adds, "you learn lots from your experiments."

The Gatineau Valley Gardeners anniversary party is open to members past and present at Galerie Old Chelsea, Nov. 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. Those wanting to attend must RSVP at jardiniers. gvg@gmail.com. The event is free of charge.