BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — The Ballston Spa House and Garden Club was recently awarded a $1,000 grant, which will be used this spring to beautify two gardens surrounding the public library and much more.
The award of the grant came from the National Garden Clubs’, Plant American Community Project Grant program. The grant application was written by Liz Kormos, a member of the local garden club and a candidate running on an independent line for one of two vacant village trustee seats.
National Garden Clubs is a not-for-profit educational organization and is the parent organization to more than 5,000 garden clubs across the U.S. The grant program was designed to encourage gardening and community service projects at local garden clubs like the BSH&G Club.
The funds from the grant will be used for the Ballston Spa Library Garden Beautification Project, which is supported annually by the Ballston Spa club.
This year, club members plan to remove invasive and non-native plants from the library’s Garden of Learning and the Pink Garden. Club members and community volunteers will replace the gardens’ invasive and non-native plants with native ornamentals, shrubs, and annuals.
The Pink Garden at the library is the one on Milton Avenue. It was given the name Pink Garden because it is in recognition of women who have faced the challenge of breast cancer.
“There are plants in that garden that the club has planted and maintained in honor of many women who have had breast cancer,” said club publicity chairwoman Marilyn Stephenson.
The Garden of Learning is on the west side of the library and was established to engage children in science, gardening, learning and reading through a thematic garden. Stephenson said the space deals with gardening through science, botany, insects as well as books, reading, and learning. The garden’s themes can change, but they are all geared toward engaging children.
“One year we had a theme of the book Pippi Longstocking,” said Stephenson. “We put plants in the garden that coordinated with the theme and the book. Each year the theme changes.”
The funding from the grant will help with plantings and maintenance of the gardens at the library as well as maintenance of the Sen. Jim Tedisco Trail on the west side of the village, another BSH&G Club project undertaken annually.
“The grant all started when the club identified it,” Stephenson said. “From there, Liz took the lead with the blessings of club president Lorraine McPherson. She planned out what she wanted the club to do at the library with the grant and then went out and wrote the grant application. We asked for $700, so when the word came that we had been awarded $1,000 it was quite a surprise.”
When the weather changes and the club dives into the projects Stephenson said there will be many opportunities for community involvement in the gardens around the library.
The BSH&G Club was formed in 1955 and has monthly meetings where the discussion regularly turns to ways to engage the community in learning about gardening and improving the community through public gardens and other activities related to growing things.
There is a plant sale each June where members divide the plants in their personal gardens and sell them during the village-wide garage sale.
“Several times a year the club develops a learning project for kids that they can check out of the library,” Stephenson said. “It’s a bag filled with a book, usually about nature, gardening or the environment, and it’s filled with lots of activities that they can do.”
The club also impacts the community through its scholarship for a graduating high school senior, food donations to local food banks, sponsorship of a youngster at an area summer camp, and donations to high school girls who need personal care products.
Stephenson noted there are garden clubs like the one in Ballston Spa all over the country where people who enjoy growing plant materials come together, encourage others to garden, and then go out and improve natural spaces with those plant materials to make things look great.
“Getting that grant was a big help for us because people new to the community may join and it gets us so we can make more of a positive impact in the community,” Stephenson said. “That’s what we’re really all about; we want to see good things happen in the Village of Ballston Spa.”