On May 11, 1998, the Tillandsia Garden Club celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Twenty-five years later on the same date, about 50 people gathered at the Palmetto Club in Daytona Beach to celebrate the club’s 75th anniversary.
“We have planned and worked all year for this day, and it’s finally here,” said Carolyn Bacci, second vice president of the club and anniversary chairwoman. “Seventy-five years — what an impressive number.”
Today, the club has 34 active members.
It all started in 1948 with seven Ormond Beach women who combined their love of plants and their desire for camaraderie to form Tillandsia, which is one of the oldest garden clubs in Volusia County, Bacci said.
Named after a type of moss that grows on native trees such as the live oak, the club has anchored itself in the community for more than seven decades through its support for local school gardens, youth education, Habitat for Humanity and other community service projects. The founders of Tillandsia paved the way.
“These seven ladies just didn’t want to dig dirt and plant plants,” Bacci said. “They had a mission — to maintain the beauty of their community through various civic beautification projects and promote the education and understanding of horticulture and conservation in our schools and throughout our community. Basically, to instill a love of gardening in others.”
First Vice President Miki Dowst and Recording Secretary Julie Johnson helped Bacci organize the event.
75 years of service
Some of the club’s early accomplishments include helping to create the gardens at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum, enhancing the gardens around the former Ormond Memorial Hospital on Sterthaus Drive and planting seeds in the median strip along I-95.
“I don’t think I’d be doing that today,” Bacci joked.
In 2003, members helped students plant seeds at Ormond Beach Elementary and eventually helped develop school gardens at Tomoka Elementary, Pine Trail Elementary and Ortona Elementary.
For three years, members developed and assisted with a “Farm to Table” gardening program at Westside Elementary, leading the club to win second place in the Deep South Garden Club Association Special Achievement Award in 2018.
This year, the club donated $2,000 to Beachside Elementary to establish a garden program.
“They’ve already sent us pictures of their early harvest of vegetables — big smiles on their faces, of course,” Bacci said.
Over the years, members planted trees at Tuscaloosa Park, the Casements, the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Ames Park, Holly Hill City Hall and others. The club has hosted its own judged flower shows and participated in the “Everybody’s Flower Show” at both Oceanside Country Club and the Ocean Center.
Members started “Garden Therapy” programs for seniors in Ormond Beach at The Sarah House, Grand Villa, Brookdale and Seaside Manor assisted living facilities.
And each year, Tillandsia sponsors a student’s participation in the Florida Federation of Garden Club’s “Save the Earth’s Environment through Knowledge” high school conference.
“As you can see, connections with our community are diverse, widespread and cover so many areas,” Bacci said. “Seventy-five years is a very long time, and there is so much more that could be mentioned, but this would go on and on and on.”
'Spirit of hope'
Since 2004, the club has sponsored the landscaping for 13 homes through its partnership with Habitat for Humanity. The most recent home was completed on Saturday, May 6.
Tillandsia has won the FFGC’s Habitat for Humanity landscaping award all three times the club has vied for it.
Lori Gillooly, CEO for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Volusia County, said the club’s contribution to the community has been outstanding. The greatest strength of Habitat for Humanity is its supporters, its donors and its volunteers, she said.
Not only do supporters provide tangible work to help the organization build homes for families in need, they also provide what she called a “spirit of hope.”
“You have been not only a tremendous partner who has brought life and your love there and great beauty to what we do, but you have become friends to us, and we are so grateful for that,” Gillooly said.
Keep planting, she encouraged.
“The seeds you have sown have made a tremendous difference in this community, and a tremendous difference for Habitat for Humanity,” she said.