MANNING - The Azalea Garden Club celebrated its 70th anniversary on March 28 with help from other local garden clubs along with regional directors with The Garden Club of South Carolina Inc.
"March 1948 was a great time in Manning," Sylvia …
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"March 1948 was a great time in Manning," Sylvia Weinberg Clark told those gathered at the anniversary celebration. "The war was over, the men had come home, and businesses were beginning to prosper. Local women encouraged their friends to join in with the beautification of family homes and the town. A group gathered here in March 1948 and divided into The Azalea Garden Club, the Camellia Garden Club and the Manning Garden Club, which was the original club."
Clark knows quite a bit about the home where The Azalea Garden Club was first formed. Clark and her late husband, Julien Weinberg, were the second owners of the home that rests on "the main route from Maine to Miami."
Clark shared a memory she has of the days before Interstate 95 opened and U.S. 301 was still heavily traveled with those at the celebration.
"I came home from a meeting of The Azalea Garden Club one spring afternoon dressed in my best dress with matching hat and shoes, wearing white gloves," Clark shared with a laugh. "Anxious to see if the camellia bushes had white spots on the leaves, I walked into the front yard and looked closely at the underside of leaves on the big camellia bush. The sound of a camera snapping and film being advanced got my attention. The woman taking pictures jumped into her car and sped away. That tourist, as people from off were called, helped perpetuate the myth of the genteel Southern lady who gardens in high heels, hat, best dress and white gloves."
Maria Land, a member of The Azalea Garden Club, shared some history on the club.
"There have been 55 presidents," Land said. "We have participated in accredited flower shows, decorated for holiday houses, conducted gardening symposiums and sponsored garden tours."
During the war years, The Azalea Garden Club promoted and grew Victory gardens, Land said.
"We participated in the renovation plans and plantings of the Clarendon County Courthouse grounds after Hurricane Hugo," Land shared. "We developed a butterfly garden at the Manning Primary School and made birdhouses with the students."
In the 1950s, The Azalea Garden Club sponsored the Yard of the Month, maintained a roadside park and created a mini-park.
"We designed the landscaping at the Old Manning Library and continue to maintain these grounds as the Clarendon County Archives," Land said. "We've sponsored many students to camp, and we published an Azalea Garden Club cookbook and earned a profit of $521. We've participated in fashion shows, bridge tournaments, and we've awarded a Christmas Door Contest Prize as well as business of the month award."
The Azalea Garden Club has also actively participated in anti-litter campaigns and has continued to maintain a fence garden at the Council of Aging facility on South Church Street, she added.
Not only has The Azalea Garden Club participated in Holiday House walking tours, but the club has also planted trees on Arbor Day, provided arrangements throughout the community during National Garden Club week, decorated the town's clock for fall and Christmas and most recently decorated The Milford Plantation Home for its Yuletide Tours.
For its efforts, the club has earned numerous awards and recognitions during its 70-year history.
"In reviewing the past history of our club, several names among many stood out," Land said. "Lovey Parker, Ruhamma Burris, Harleen Britton, Frances Brown, Pamm Cantey and many more. Please raise a glass to toast all of the hard working, talented, creative, wonderful women who have been and are now members of The Azalea Garden Club of Manning."
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