Forget the white gloves, ladies

Garden club myths persist. Even garden club members will tell you that: ladies in hats and white gloves. Yeah, right. They wear hats, all right, and gloves in the garden. But there's so much more to a garden club. These women are smart, dynamic and creative and ought to be recognized as such, as my visit with the almost century-old Four Counties Garden Club today bears out.

A half-dozen members got together late this morning at Mandy Swope's house in Malvern for two hours of conversation and crafts - in this case, using natural materials to make holiday ornaments for table, tree or wreath. They were working with an array of cool "found objects" - ash burrs, sea oats, wheat stems, seed pods, pussy willow, dried ferns, berries ... Some of the critter creations were more recognizable than others, others quite artful. More importantly, at least to me, there was good conversation and laughter and as one member noted, a total absence of stress, if only for two hours.

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These are women who've raised families, yes, and also had careers in finance, real estate, education, interior design.

This photo shows an arrangement Mandy did earlier. Notice how simple it is and how effortlessly she seems to have transformed ordinary flowerrs into something cheery and interesting. Wouldn't you like this on your kitchen counter? (and wouldn't you love to have the time to try and make something like this?)

The Four Counties women - from Philadelphia, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties - meet once a month, have their own flower shows, invite speakers to learn about photography, floral design, horticulture. They talk and bond and, in Mandy's case and others', support each other in sorrowful times. More on this in my story on 11/16.

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