Del Mar Garden Club celebrates 25th anniversary

By Kristina Houck

If you stop by Del Mar’s post office on a Tuesday, you might see Marnie Mahoney tending to the garden. The Del Mar resident and other members of the Del Mar Garden Club continue to maintain the garden they first established in 1991.

“It’s a real pleasure to be down there at the post office every Tuesday morning,” said Mahoney, who has lived in Del Mar since 1968. “The expressions of appreciation, which we get every week, makes you feel pleased and very happy that it was done in the first place. It’s something that everybody appreciates.”

The Garden Club was formed in September 1988 after Mahoney invited a group of friends to her home to talk about gardening and possibly starting a club. By the next year, the dozen-member club grew to 35 members.

In 1991, the club held its first fundraiser, a garden tour and plant sale, to establish the garden in front of the city’s post office.

“The Garden Club was formed to promote the knowledge and love of gardening,” Mahoney said. “We talked about ways we could contribute to the beautification of the community. We weren’t just going to sit around and look at flowerpots. I thought there should be a purpose — that we accomplish something for the good of everybody.”

Celebrating the organization’s 25th anniversary on Sept. 23 at the Powerhouse Community Center, garden club members looked back on the number of projects the club has participated in or led in more than two decades.

Since the post office project, Garden Club members have beautified the public gardens at places such as the Del Mar City Hall and the Del Mar Library. Other projects include the sidewalk garden plots at the 14th Street and Camino del Mar crosswalk area by Bully’s Del Mar and the Jimmy Durante Boulevard median. Although club members do a lot of the labor, they also work with the Public Works Department and Aztec Landscaping.

In addition to maintaining several gardens in the community, the club is set to beautify 10th Street and work with the Del Mar Foundation to beautify the end of 18th Street, said Mary Friestedt, the club’s president.

“Marnie Mahoney has been my inspiration,” said Friestedt, who moved to Del Mar in 1998 and joined the club in 2005. “I think of her as the George Washington of our club. She is a very classy lady who started this club and had high standards. We’ve tried to maintain those standards.”

Today the club has 45 members and 16 perennial members. Members meet monthly from September through June, and attend educational programs and garden tours.

“I love this club,” Friestedt said. “The people are absolutely phenomenal. We’re like a big family. It’s a wonderfully friendly, warm, loving, energetic, knowledgeable group of people. It’s really a joy to be a part of this club.”

It’s not a surprise the club has reached this milestone anniversary, Mahoney said. In fact, membership continues to grow as the club recently accepted seven new members.

“We have a lot of new, wonderful younger women that are full of energy and great ideas. That’s what keeps it going,” Mahoney said. “There’s also been such a tremendous amount of interest and gratitude expressed by the city over the years. It’s been a very worthwhile endeavor.”