Garden Club played major role in beautification

By: Nancy Hagman, Special to the Colfax Record
-A +A
A casual stroll through historic Colfax this holiday season makes it infinitely clear that the lampposts were not the only aspect of the 1990s downtown beautification project. An extraordinary group’s 63 years of dedication deserves recognition even though no commemorative plaque is present. Some things just speak for themselves. The current seasonal decorations and attractive planters are the result, primarily, of a loyal commitment by the Colfax Garden Club. Organized in the spring of 1948, largely by the efforts of Alice Estrem, the 83 signatures on the garden club’s original charter make up a veritable who’s who of the men and women in Colfax history. Several names have been recognized previously in this column; the best example is Eileen Mitchell Gibbs (Colfax Record, Nov. 3, 2011) who served as the group’s first president. The garden club’s commitment to that charter has resulted in an active and historic contribution to the community. This begins with beautification projects that span from the Blue Star Highway program (Colfax Record, Feb. 24, 2011) and continue with the planter flowers and other decorative greenery. In 1956, the railroad right-of-way bank on lower Main Street was bare. The club collaborated with the chamber of commerce to landscape the section, resulting in the tall trees and greenery present today. Many of the trees in and around town are the result of annual Arbor Day projects. The swimming pool was the focus in 1968, and later that year, and again in 1969, Bank of America enlisted the garden club’s help with planters at the bank (now a Cal Trans office). Most visible are the planters around historic downtown. Each site is assigned to specific club members for planning, planting and care. The planters have both perennial and annual species that optimize the best bloom for year-round beauty. Watering systems are on timers and maintained by the city crew. To be fair, not all the planters are sponsored and cared for by the garden club. The Lionesses and Kiwanis, for example, have areas they look after. A map of assignments is available at city hall. The garden club puts on delightful flower shows and garden tours annually. They have won blue ribbons in many fair exhibits on both the county and state level. Over the years, monthly programs have included speakers with slide shows presentations ranging from Florida horticulture, farm advisors to a myriad of other subjects. Arrangement competitions were all the rage in the early years and are still a part of the annual show. These include youth venues. The educational project with Colfax Grammar School, now Colfax Elementary, over the years still involves members giving presentations to classes and working with the students on their very own garden on the school grounds at Ben Taylor Road. Beauty also means litter abatement, and to this end, the group has adopted Highway 174 between town and the Bear River to maintain. The US Forest Service Pennies for Pines is on the donations list, and an an-nual Smokey Bear poster competition aid natural resource preservation. As members of both the State and National Garden Clubs, they attend conferences and trainings and share this learning with the local community. Just recently, 10 members became certified landscape design consultants. Fundraising efforts, through events such as plant sales, allow the offering of scholarships to local students. The latest addition to the club’s many accomplishments has been the Outfielders Community Garden at the Sierra Vista Community Center. When asked the secret to the years of success, the longest current member and two-time president, Myrtle Findley, replied “delegation!” Current president Cathy Kiefer said it is “definitely due to all the wonderful volunteers.” The club has programs the second Friday of the month (except July and August) at 11 a.m. in the Conestoga Room of the Sierra Vista Center.