Members of the San Fernando Valley's gardening societies and clubs share more than a green thumb.
Many of them care deeply about conserving natural resources.
"We're not little old ladies in big gardening hats with a shovel in our hands," said Estelle Tesh, director of the San Fernando Valley District of California Garden Clubs.
This statewide nonprofit group, part of a national organization, is dedicated to plant and tree conservation, preservation of the environment and furthering interest in amateur gardening. It also teaches gardening to the elderly, the handicapped and children.
Of course, some garden clubs are dedicated solely to the joys of a particular plant.
Mary Blancher of the Granada Hills African Violet Society grows about 100 plants under lights. She limits them to one wall, saying: "I enjoy them. But, if I had too many, it would be work, not fun.
"Some people play music for their violets. Can you imagine?" said Blancher. "And one person got a heater and an air conditioner just for her plants."
Said Bill Rinehart of the San Fernando Valley Iris Society: "People don't realize the variety there is. That's why I find irises so rewarding. I'm probably being conservative by saying I spend most of my waking hours on them."
What follows is a list of Valley area garden clubs and societies, all of which welcome newcomers and publish monthly newsletters.
San Fernando Valley Rose Society, c/o 8024 Hatillo Ave., Canoga Park 91306. This organization of rose fanciers meets at 7:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of every month at Mercury Savings, 5201 Laurel Canyon Blvd., North Hollywood. Each meeting features a speaker, mini-rose show, plant exchange and group discussion. You may bring roses to be identified, and trips are sometimes made to private gardens. Classes in arrangement are taught in winter, and a spring rose show is held annually at Descanso Gardens. The group has 120 members. Dues are $8.50 or $11, depending on whether you already belong to the American Rose Society. For information, call Beverly Osborne at (818) 341-0877.
Granada Hills African Violet Society, c/o 19536 Minnehaha St., Northridge 91326. This 65-member group meets at 11 a.m. the fourth Tuesday of the month in the Town Hall Room of the Balboa-Mission Shopping Center, 16916 San Fernando Mission Blvd., Granada Hills. Each meeting starts with a culture class for beginners, followed by a plant raffle, the sale of supplies and pots, and a program, usually featuring a speaker and slides relating to some aspect of growing African violets. Coffee and cookies are served. Every March, the society takes a bus trip to a major violet nursery in Solvang. In August, a luncheon is held at the Odyssey Restaurant in Granada Hills. Membership costs $6 a year or $8 for couples. For information, call Mary Blancher at (818) 363-6222.
San Fernando Valley African Violet Society, c/o 19536 Minnehaha St., Northridge 91326. This 63-member group meets at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of the month at the Odd Fellows Hall, 15236 Parthenia St., Sepulveda. Meetings follow the same format as those of the Granada Hills society, which has some of the same members. Dues are $6 per person or $8 per couple. Every March, a show and plant sale are held at the Panorama Mall. The June and December meetings feature potluck dinners. For information, contact Mary Blancher at (818) 363-6222.
Thousand Oaks African Violet Society, c/o 1187 Buckingham Drive, Thousand Oaks 91360. About 45 members meet at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of the month at the Oaks Mall Community Room on Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks. Membership costs $6 per year, plus $3 for Council News, a quarterly publication. Meetings feature a culture class, business session, refreshments and a speaker. An annual show and sale are held each fall at the Thousand Oaks Library. A sale is also held in the spring. In addition, the group has a display at the Ventura County Fair in August. For information, call Vern Jones at (805) 947-0206 or Marsha Shaver at (805) 495-0218.
Burbank African Violet Society, c/o 508 Palm Ave., Apartment I, Burbank 91501. Thirty to 40 violet lovers meet at 7 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at Bethany Presbyterian Church, 2707 N. Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank. Dues are $8 per person or $11.50 per couple. A 30-minute social starts each meeting, during which members examine and discuss each other's plants. Also featured are culture classes, bingo games to win leaves that can be propagated and a raffle. Once a year, the group has a plant competition, at which members vote on the best plants grown from leaves. Each spring, a display and sale are held; another event may be scheduled in October. For information, contact Laura Windhausen at (818) 846-1241.