Local gardening club helps growers share gardening ideas

Andrea Johnson/MDN Twice a year the Northwest Association of Horticulture holds a plant sale. Proceeds go to support scholarships for horticulture students.

The Northwest Association of Horticulture (NoAH) has been brightening the lives and gardens of its members since 1985.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Julie Budeau, a longtime member who became a passionate gardener after she retired and took a master gardening class.

Budeau said membership in the group has reached a high of 145 at one time and now seems to be picking up new members.

The club sponsored its first annual Gardening Saturday event at the North Central Research Extension Center, south of Minot on March 30. The event brought in several animated, charismatic speakers to share their gardening expertise with attendees.

Budeau said NoAH picked up some new members after the Gardening Saturday event and other new members have been joining since then.

Andrea Johnson/MDN Some of the plants on sale at the spring plant auction.

“This has been a really great year,” said Budeau. “We got about 25 new members.”

Right now the membership is at about 130 members.

People enjoy getting together at the monthly meetings – held on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at Vincent United Methodist Church – to learn from the speakers who offer their expertise and to socialize with other people who love gardening.

Nobody there thinks any question is too dumb to ask, said Ken Eraas, a longtime member from Norwich.

Chances are good that another gardener in the club has confronted the same gardening quandary and may have a solution.

Andrea Johnson/MDN Members of the NoAH gardening club look over plants during the spring plant auction on May 9.

Gardeners also have a wide variety of interests, whether it be vegetable gardening or outdoor landscaping or tending to house plants.

Eraas, who has had a long career in horticulture at area extension centers and currently works part-time at the Ward County Extension Center, said he has seen younger people joining the club in recent years.

Many of them seem to be particularly interested in vegetable gardening because people want to have more control over their own food and how it is grown.

Eraas said his family grows most of its own vegetables and buys very little from the store.

Eraas also enjoys growing perennial flowers. He has a special tradition of planting a tree after the birth of each grandchild. Each of the trees that have been planted also have nearby perennial beds.

Budeau, who has her own outdoor greenhouse, also enjoys planting flowers outside.

Like any other hobby, gardening has its own trends.

“Horticulture, like everything else, is a constant change,” said Budeau. “Something new comes on the market, then it’s like everyone’s grabbing it. A new flower, you know, they’ll drive how many miles to get a new flower and pay $18 for it.”

New varieties of petunias, for example, will be coveted this summer by outdoor gardeners.

Headliner has produced new colors of petunias. The most recent is a maroon-colored petunia with spots called Starry Sky. Previous varieties that were popular were Night Sky, which Budeau said is a purple-blue flower with spots. Morning Sky was a pink petunia with spots.

Other gardeners like to plant new varieties of plants and flowers that have a different shaped leaf or different color of flower.

Budeau likes the brightly colored coleus. New varieties have come from Canada.

House plants also have their enthusiasts. “Succulents are the rave right now,” said Budeau, and there are more places than you might expect in a northern climate where people can indulge their passion.

There is a large collection of cacti and succulents at the International Peace Garden near Dunseith that was donated to the Peace Garden 10 years ago by Don Vitko. Lowe’s in Minot, which housed some of the collection following the Souris River flood in 2011 before it was moved to the Peace Garden, now offers a good selection of cacti and succulents, said Budeau. Other local stores also offer cacti and succulents.

Most won’t survive outdoors year-round, but Budeau said people can plant them outside during the summer and then bring them indoors during the winter. Light from a house window will help them survive through the winter.

Club membership is $15 for new members for the first year. After that, membership is $25 per year.

Club members also participate in other activities throughout the year. There are regular planned trips to greenhouses and local gardens. In the past, club members have taken tours to gardens in other states and Canada.

The group has sponsored community projects such as mentoring and plantings at Habitat for Humanity Homes and at the Ward County Historical Society; plantings at the Scandinavian Heritage Park working with the test garden plots at the North Central Research Extension Center; and helping the city clean up trails. It also plants and maintains plants at the train depot in Minot.

Twice a year the organization holds a plant sale. Proceeds from the sales go to support scholarships for horticulture students. Last year it awarded two $500 scholarships to students at Dakota College at Bottineau and it has also supported Minot High School FFA Scholarship.

The club has purchased gardening books for the Minot Public and Ward County libraries.

Budeau has enjoyed speaking to youngsters about gardening during children’s programs at the Minot Public Library.

Some of the upcoming programs planned include an ice cream social on June 13; a garden tour on July 11 and the annual flower show on Aug. 8.

More information can be found on the Northwest Association of Horticulture’s Facebook page or by calling Budeau at 624-5252.

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