Cultivating Community

garden_flowerThe Carlsbad Garden Club began in 1932 as a means to protect and preserve the flora surrounding Carlsbad. Since that time, the organization has helped shape the beauty of this community through its service and conservation projects with the San Diego Botanic Garden, the Buena Vista Lagoon, and Magee House. Today club members volunteer their time and efforts to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, help contribute to outreach programs such as Petals for Patriots and Pennies for Pines, and support the spread of knowledge and love of gardening with scholarships and grants to students and local youth organizations. They also, of course, come together to relax and socialize, and spend time encouraging and teaching one another so they may all learn about and enjoy their gardens. We talk with President Susan Omanski about the strong community roots the organization has planted.

Q&A with Carlsbad Garden Club President Susan Omanski

garden_omanskiWhen and why was the Carlsbad Garden Club founded? What is the history behind the club?
The Carlsbad Garden Club was organized in 1932 as an outgrowth of the Carlsbad Women’s Club during the Depression as a means of beautification and protection of the flora surrounding Carlsbad. As such it became the oldest service club in the area.

Is the club affiliated with a larger umbrella organization?
Yes, we are affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Pacific Region and the California Garden Clubs, Palomar District.

What is the club’s mission, and how do you go about fulfilling it?
Our mission is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening, support the protection of native plants, and to encourage civic planting and beautification of Carlsbad.

How did you personally become involved with the Carlsbad Garden Club?
I made contact through the website; I was new to the area with a lifelong history of a love of gardening.

What is your current role within the organization, and what duties does it entail?
I am the current president. I preside at board meetings and general club meetings. I also execute contracts and approve expenditures.

What is the most rewarding thing about your role? The most challenging?
The most rewarding thing is the social interaction with others while gaining education and experience with the horticultural world. The most challenging is motivating members to continually support our scholarship and environmental concerns.

Carlsbad Garden Club President At-A-Glance
Name: Susan Omanski
Profession: Retired
Community: Carlsbad
Hobbies and Interests: Gardening, cooking, traveling, antiques
Favorite Spots in Carlsbad: The beach, the Village shops

How has the organization grown and changed over the years?
The club members were very active in public beautification originally. They then switched their focus to flower shows, which brought many awards to the members and club. They were active in starting the Buena Vista Lagoon Foundation and Magee House, a historical home now housing the Carlsbad Historical Society. More recently the club has awarded grants to four Carlsbad elementary schools, the Carlsbad Senior Center, and Rancho Carlsbad for horticultural projects. Currently the emphasis of our club is on the Aqua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation, providing a horticultural scholarship to a MiraCosta College student annually, supporting various state-supported projects such as Pennies for Pines, and working with Petals for Patriots which provides floral arrangements to Wounded Warriors to show our support and appreciation to our United States military.

garden_chatCan you describe how a typical club meeting would go?
We introduce guests and new members, present the program of the month, break for refreshments, and then have our business meeting. Meetings are usually two hours total in length.

What are the primary goals of the Carlsbad Garden Club, both short-term and long-term?
Our short-term goals are to conduct plant sales this spring at Aqua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation and Carlsbad Cole Library, and to establish a permanent plant sale area at the Lagoon. As far as long-term, we seek to continue support for an annual scholarship to a student of the Horticultural Department of MiraCosta College, continue financial support of Aqua Hedionda Lagoon and the Cleveland National Forest, and continue providing floral arrangements to Wounded Warriors.

What has been one of the organization’s most memorable projects over the years?
Our 80th birthday celebration luncheon in 2012 with the Mayor of Carlsbad as our guest speaker.

Carlsbad Garden Club By The Numbers:
Year Founded: 1932
Number of Current Members: 55
Number of Current Officers: 5
Number of Past Presidents: 54

Can you tell us a bit about some recent guest speakers? What have been some memorable presentations over the past year?
Recent speakers have included guests speaking on succulents, roses, and heirloom tomatoes. We have also had programs on flower arranging, soil composition, and water conservation.

Are the Carlsbad Garden Club members involved in any volunteer work?
All of our work related to the Carlsbad Garden Club projects is volunteer. In addition to projects previously mentioned we have members who create art and cookbooks that we offer for sale to raise funds. Many members are involved in other community organizations in Carlsbad as volunteers.

How would somebody go about joining the Carlsbad Garden Club?
Our membership form is available on our website Our dues are $30 each year.

Is there anything you’d like to share that most people don’t know about the Carlsbad Garden Club?
We are a hardworking group of men and women who like to dig in the dirt!

If you could grant the club one wish, what would it be?
That we had 150 members working for Carlsbad as hard as our current 55 do!

If you had to describe the Carlsbad Garden Club using only five words, what would you say?
Dirty knees and clean shovels!

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Q&A with Carlsbad Garden Club Board Members

What do you love most about being in this organization?
“Sharing with like-minded people the joy of new knowledge and discoveries.” ~ Susan Omanski, President
“I treasure the friends I have made. After all, who doesn’t love a gardener?” ~ Cynthia Phillips, Vice President
“I love gardening, and what could be more fun than sharing all the various aspects of gardening with others?” ~ Fran Whitton, Treasurer

What would you say to someone considering joining the Carlsbad Garden Club, or just looking to become more involved in their community?
“If you have a love of gardening, you couldn’t find a better organization. The members are warm and friendly and welcome everyone with open arms. There is something for everyone.” ~ Chris Marois, Secretary
“The garden club is an enjoyable way to reach out and learn more about our community and its needs, and to help make it a beautiful place to live and work.” ~ Fran Whitton, Treasurer
“Give it a try. You will learn and you can teach. You will give back to your community.” ~ Cynthia Phillips, Vice President

Carlsbad Garden Club At-A-Glance

Name of Organization: Carlsbad Garden Club
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 626, Carlsbad, CA 92008
Meeting Location: Carlsbad City Library, 1775 Dove Ln., Carlsbad CA 92011