- August 17, 2022
Lori Walker’s love of gardening began to blossom when she was a 6-year-old with a huge backyard.
“Every year on Mother’s Day, we would buy all the plants we could get our hands on, and I’d help Dad [Doug McCullough] plant them,” the 62-year-old Greenbrook resident said. “I had my own arch in the backyard where I was allowed to plant anything I wanted. That is where my love for gardening started, way back when, and I wanted to spread the word.”
Since then, she has become a master gardener and a member of the Lakewood Ranch Garden Club for the past three years.
Last year, Walker was vice president of the club. In September, she was named the club’s new president.
She said she loves the camaraderie of the garden club.
Formed in 2005 with just six members, the Lakewood Ranch Garden Club has grown to 48 active members.
Walker said the club’s growth is a result of the population boom in East County.
On Friday, Oct. 20, the club will have a chance to pick up more members as Lakewood Ranch’s Block Party and Club Day is held from 5 to 9 p.m. at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch. The Club Day portion of the event will have more than 50 clubs, such as the Lakewood Ranch Garden Club, on hand to give information about their activities.
“They want to get involved,” Walker said of the new local residents. “We joke around and have fun (in the club), but it’s also educational. We all like the camaraderie, and most people in the garden club are very open and forthcoming — like me — and that’s what drew me to it.”
Walker knows residents have plenty of other choices when it comes to joining a club.
“Everybody has an interest,” Walker said. “I think Lakewood Ranch gives everyone the perfect opportunity to get what you want. There are a million clubs in Lakewood Ranch, and you are going to find one that piques your interest.”
The event also features the Block Party.
“The joint event gives us exposure to the business-focused people and the residential-focused people,” said Keith Pandeloglou, director of Lakewood Ranch Community Activities. “A lot of times when people first move to this community they don’t know all that is out there.”
Pandeloglou said he is impressed with how passionate the clubs are about adding members and finding ways to help the community.
The Lakewood Ranch Garden Club, for example, manages the Community Garden at Greenbrook Adventure Park.
Walker said the produce in the Community Garden is donated to Stillpoint House of Prayer in Bradenton. It started with the donation of a single tomato.
“The first tomato had ripened, so I took that over to Stillpoint because they rarely have fresh produce,” Walker said. “The first person looked at the tomato and started crying. It really moved my heart.”
Unfortunately this growing season, Hurricane Irma ruined many of the plots.
“We had to pull everything out because it was totally under water,” Walker said. “We are going to try again next year.”