By Bob Arnold
Organized in 1934, Wesson Garden Club (WGC) has been beautifying the area and educating locals about growing plants, landscaping and how to treat nature for 88 years.
"We're an active civic organization whose members want to give back to their community and seek to be faithful to the motto that inspires the work of garden clubs -- "making things happen," WGC President Dixie Thornton told the Wesson Lions.
Thornton said the local group is recognized for its work within the community of garden clubs as evidenced by eight state awards and one national award during the past year for its projects and activities. Walt Grayson, the broadcast journalist whose beat is people and events throughout Mississippi, put the public spotlight on WGC throughout the state when the Club's members divided into teams that competed in decorating Wesson for the fall during its Scarecrow Challenge, she said. "The publicity brought dozens of tourists to town," she added.
Partnership with other Wesson organizations is a key in the impact the group makes on the town, Thornton explained.
"We worked with local business like Steel Outdoors, which crafted whimsical butterfly sculptures that we placed in Fountain Park," she pointed out. "We work with the town government in maintaining the municipal park and the Chamber of Commerce in keeping up its garden in the downtown area. We work with Co-Lin on projects like a memorial bench on its campus. The public library and Friends of the Library are partners in education projects."
Thornton highlighted WGC's work with special population. "We organized children in grades three through six into a junior garden club, which we call Butterbeans," she said. "They learn about plants and growing and help maintain garden s at Wesson Attendance Center and the Old School Community Center. We have a garden therapy the involves seniors and the Boswell Center's developmentally challenged clients."
Other WGC projects cited by Thornton:
Plantings around six historical markers in town.
A breast cancer garden in front of Wesson Public Library memorializing victims of the disease and celebrating the lives of survivors.
Maintaining brick planters and hanging flower baskets around town.
Arbor Day tree plantings in the municipal park -- a Japanese Maple honoring decease members and a Garden Club tree honoring all work of all the Club's members over the years.
Cooperative activities with other state garden clubs in maintaining the cutting garden at the Governor's mansion, reforestation activities, working with Habitat for Humanity in landscaping building projects, the Horticulture Camp at Mississippi State University, scholarship grants and planting wild flowers.