Meet Mary Lynn McRee and Suzanne Lindelof – two of Chappaqua Garden Club’s volunteer members and this month’s featured Villagers. The ladies, Mary Lynn with her eye for floral flourish and Suzanne with her perennial green thumb, are both dedicated to civic improvement and beautifying Chappaqua. The Garden Club has a history rooted in tradition, preservation and protection of local flora. It aims to educate all of its members in horticulture, landscape design and flower arranging. Suzanne and Mary Lynn’s unwavering passion for plants and volunteer work has added to the town’s charm, creating an attractive and inspiring outdoor community for all its residents. We sat down with Suzanne and Mary Lynn to learn more about the club’s projects and its upcoming handmade wreath sale.
CS: How does the Chappaqua Garden Club add value to its residents?
MLM: Our garden club plays a significant role in the town’s beautification. We develop and maintain gardens throughout the town and stimulate the ‘greening’ of Chappaqua through tree planting, beautification sites and promote interest in native plants, wildflower, grasses and wildlife habitats. Most recently, we’ve worked on Pocket Park and the 9/11 Memorial Garden. We also like to add to our members’ lives by providing a welcoming environment where people can get creative, get outside, and meet their neighbors. It’s a very friendly club.
SL: Our garden club’s aim is to educate our members, conserve our local flora and really make Chappaqua a beautiful place to wake up and live in. From our junior classes, where we teach kids positive environmental attitudes, to providing garden therapy through floral arrangement sessions to residents at the Victoria Home in Ossining, our work enhances and educates our community. We also have guest speakers at each of our monthly meetings. This fall we’ve had a renowned garden designer, an expert on peonies and a wonderful speaker on indoor houseplants. All of these lectures are open to the general public.
CS: What have been some of the challenges encountered by the Chappaqua Garden Club?
MLM: We try to educate our members as much as we can on native plants of the region and how to conserve and protect them. For instance, the Annabelle hydrangea is a native flowering shrub to our region. It’s this beautiful plant with enormous white flowers that look like puffy balls. It blooms every summer.
SL: But then Gardening Centers will sell an invasive species of plant, like Burning Bush or Scarlet, and people will buy and plant them not knowing that they have a negative impact on the environment.
MLM: Then this invasive species takes over our native species’ resources. We need plants like Annabelle to survive in order to attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. So educating and creating awareness in order to protect our native species can be a challenge.
CS: The garden club is a non-profit organization. How has it managed to maintain its club existence for over 80 years?
MLM: Mainly through the hard work and dedication of its members. We’ve also recently received funding from the Beautification Advisory Board, which paid for the town’s 96 hanging baskets and 52 planters this summer.
SL: Our garden club volunteers offered their time to plant all of the baskets! It was really fantastic. Our members’ commitment to enhancing the lives of our fellow Chappaqua residents is very apparent and it shows when they pitch in and help out on these types of projects.
MLM: In addition to membership dues, we have 2 major fundraising sales throughout the year; one of which Suzanne is at the helm of. The first is for Mother’s Day where we sell beautiful hanging baskets, perennials, herbs, pre-planted patio pots, plants for the garden and flower center pieces. We are especially known for plants that our members have dug up from their own gardens.
SL: The second – which is happening now – is our annual wreath sale!! Designed and handmade by club members, we make dozens of wreaths, fireplace mantle pieces, baskets, tiny trees and swags and sell them the week after Thanksgiving at the Pocket Park. We also do custom wreath orders.
CS: When we heard about the Club’s upcoming wreath sale, we thought they’d be perfect for the station.
MLM: Of course! We’ve started brainstorming ideas for the eight we are making for the station. We’ve chosen some really beautiful burlap with red trim ribbons, pinecones, and some embellished greens and holly. Local tree companies and club members donate some greens to help with the cost of decorating the wreaths. It’s going to look so beautiful and festive. Perfect for the warm wood tones of the station. They will go all along the eight front windows. We can’t wait to hang them!
SL: It’s really a fun and creative three days. We take over the basement at the church, lay all of our decorations, trinkets, tools and create. The variations of wreaths that are made are so different and unique. And it’s a good opportunity to gather, catch up and work towards a goal of creating something that will bring happiness to Chappaqua residents’ lives. We love adorning Chappaqua homes in style by creating extraordinary arrangements from materials we find right here, in our town.
If you are interested in purchasing a wreath and/or information on joining the Chappaqua Garden Club, check out their website here for more information.