Germantown Hills Garden Club selling big

Sean McGowan
When Germantown Hills Garden Club members are not busy planning for the May 4 sale, they enjoy tending to their own gardens.

GERMANTOWN HILLS — Melanie Meismer, Germantown Hills Garden Club president, is preparing for a day of warmth, collaboration and sales.

The club will hold a plant sale at 8 a.m. May 4 in synch with the Germantown Hills Chamber of Commerce porkchop cookout for the third year in a row. Before collaborating with the Chamber, the sale used to take place at Illinois Central College Garden Days in the fall.

"People in the fall do not want to buy plants," Metamora resident Gerta Wirt, a member of the garden club, said.

Wirt, Meismer and crew agree that selling with the Chamber of Commerce seems to be working better. They said the funds they raise continue to increase with $1,200 being the amount raised at last year's sale.

"We have return customers every year that know they're going to get good plants," Meismer said.

Some of the money these return customers spend on plants goes to operational costs. The club's secretary, Kay Webber of Germantown Hills, said these costs include flyers, postage and trips the club takes. The dues do not make up a lot of the costs, the secretary said, because dues are only $10 per year.

In addition, $500 went to the Germantown Hills Fire Department.

Meismer said there are too many different kinds of flowers to begin explaining what is sold at the sale. Rather, she said in general terms that mostly perennials with a few annuals are sold. These include house plants, as well, according to Meismer.

Tomatoes and other vegetables are sold, which Wirt said are a hit with attendees.

"Customers have asked me, 'Are we getting tomatoes this year?'"

These plants come mainly from garden club members' donations, according to Webber. She said they like to share the wealth and consider the question, 'What do I need to divide?' when giving away certain items at the sale.

But other than coming by to purchase plants, people seem to want an education on gardening as well. Garden club member Barb Peters of Peoria said Wirt has a wealth of knowledge about gardens.

"She really knows her flowers," she said.

Wirt agreed that passersby enjoy a good education on plants and gardening.

"Our garden club helps teach the public to do different projects," she said. "Last year they wanted me to have a class on geraniums."

However, the Germantown Hills Garden Club members said people do not always buy into the idea of maintaining a garden.

"You want to beautify things, but people don't want to take the time to do the upkeep," Wirt said.

At times, the club has taken it upon themselves to intervene when they see a poorly kept garden in the community. Wirt said she planted a garden around the community center for the village. Later, the garden club had a meeting at the center.

"There was one day we came out of a meeting last year and we had so many weeds," Meismer said. "We couldn't stand it because we're gardeners."

Meismer said they began to pull the weeds out one by one to clean up.

Members of the club are from Washington, Metamora, Germantown Hills, East Peoria and Peoria. The club meets next at 6:30 p.m. April 9 at the Germantown Hills community center, across from Michael's Italian Feast, according to

Other events the garden club will host includes a tour of club members' gardens July 9. The garden club website states, "Here's your chance to get ideas from "real" gardens; not over the top magazine cover fantasies." See the website for more information.

"The public is welcome to attend our meetings," Meismer said.