Women at Work

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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AHOSKIE – One of Ahoskie’s longest existing clubs is continuing their work to beautify the town, creating eye-catching gardens and putting up handmade decorations.

The Ahoskie Garden Club, which became an independent organization in 1953 and currently has 36 members, is responsible for several floral-based projects around the town. Beautification is the goal of the group, according to current club president Lou Riddick.

“We want to make it more appealing to visitors and for people to move here,” she explained.

One of Riddick’s goals when she became president of the club in 2018 was to put a flower garden in the empty lot at the corner of First and Academy streets.

“Everybody coming into town, no matter which direction, is going by that corner,” Riddick said.

That site had originally hosted a garden maintained by the club back in the early 90s. Long-time Garden Club member Dolores Benthall recalled tilling up the land in order to plant bushes, tulips, daffodils, and even a maple tree.

“We had it looking real good,” Benthall said.

But the property owners at the time eventually insisted it all had to be removed. As the years passed and the land changed hands, the lot wasn’t well-maintained, and more recently, the vacant house there was removed. So Riddick started researching along with help from Ahoskie’s Town Manager and the Department of Transportation to see if they were able to use the corner again for a new garden. They discovered no tax value on the land and only a DOT right-of-way for the stoplight.

So the club was able to proceed with the project.

“Dolores volunteered to draw up the plan,” Riddick acknowledged.

Benthall, who has a master gardening certification by taking classes through NC State University, said she wanted to design the spot to catch the eye of anyone passing by. That’s why she chose the specific number of shrubs to use and placed them in a way that would also bring attention to the crepe myrtles. Additionally, they planted roses in a variety of bright colors, and different flowers are planted according to the season.

Tulips bulbs will be the next flowers they add to the garden in anticipation for spring. Benthall said those are some of her favorites.

Riddick recognized several people outside of the club who also helped make the corner garden at First and Academy Streets a reality. She thanked Josh Roberts at Roberts Nursery for helping them acquire the plants, the Ahoskie Women’s Club for donating one of the crepe myrtles, and Ahoskie’s Public Works Director Steve Lassiter for making sure the plants get water when needed.

In addition to the corner garden project, the group regularly does several other beautification activities throughout the town. They plant seasonal flowers at No Man’s Land on Main Street by the railroad tracks. They maintain the shrubbery around the town’s welcome signs and decorate each with a seasonal wreath. And they also regularly recognize a “Yard of the Month” in Ahoskie or the surrounding area.

Their next upcoming project will be making their annual Christmas wreaths out of greenery to add some holiday cheer to the municipal buildings, a club tradition which stretches back to 1983.

Making the town more beautiful through pretty plants is what the Ahoskie Garden Club continues to do all year long.