By Kristine Haroldson For The Herald
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Driving into Mountlake Terrace, people might notice the cheerful flower beds planted around entrance signs welcoming them into the city.
These flower beds are planted by the 18 dedicated volunteers of the Mountlake Terrace Garden Club.
“We are not like most garden clubs,” said Bonnie Mercer, president of the club.
Most other gardening clubs are involved in many other events throughout the year, such as flower shows. This club, however, focuses on the seven sites around the city that it regularly plants and maintains. Throughout the season, from June through October, they visit each site about once a month for upkeep.
The nonprofit Mountlake Terrace Garden Club was founded in 1992 when two men noticed that no one seemed to be taking care of the site at I-5 and 220th Street SW. They decided to attend a city advisory board meeting and ask permission to give the site the care it needed. Through the years the club grew to tend six other sites around the city.
Maintaining half a dozen sites seems like a lot of work, so initially they thought dividing the work would be best. But soon the club found out that approach wasn’t much fun.
“It’s more fun when we all do it together,” Mercer said.
These volunteers are very close, said Jeff Crandall, club treasurer.
The members of the club enjoy the socializing part just as much as they enjoy helping make their city a more beautiful place.
At the end of the season, in late fall, the team goes to each of the sites one last time to pull all of the flowers to prepare the beds for spring. However, just because their gardening season is over doesn’t mean the club disbands. Around the holidays, club members get together to go out for dinner and hold bimonthly meetings to plan for the next season.
One issue club members are faced with is funding. Starting in 2012, they will lose the little city funding they receive. The funding has covered about half the club’s expenses, which include the flowers they plant and minimal supplies. Everything else is paid for mostly through donations by club members, Mercer said. The club holds fundraisers, such as its annual flower basket sale. They also rely heavily on local businesses and the public to help with the costs.
To further cut down on costs next year, they plan on planting flowers that grow back every year instead of ones that need to be re-planted.
A little money trouble isn’t going to discourage these gardeners though. Mercer seems optimistic about the future of the garden club.
“We’re going to keep going as long as we can,” she said.
Crandall believes that it will bring more people into the club.
“When times are tough people think more about volunteering,” he said.