The Davidson Garden Club’s 37th Horticultural Symposium
The Davidson Garden Club, led by Club President Carole Elliott, hosted its 37th Davidson Horticultural Symposium on March 7. As always, the day was filled with engaging speakers, beautiful flowers, tasty food, and talented artists.
Founded in 1957, the Garden Club has a long history of community service, plant sales, philanthropical support, and famously, the annual Davidson Horticultural Symposium. The club’s history as a working group has been key to its appeal, providing funds for local programs, beautification projects, and educating the public.
Since 1984, the Davidson Horticultural Symposium has presented annual programs dedicated to the inspiration and education of professional and amateur gardeners. All 40 Garden Club members work year-round to make sure each symposium is better than the last. For over 30 years, the club’s own Robin Wilgus has created the artwork for the brochures and symposium materials. The only break in the annual Symposium was during the pandemic.
This year’s symposium, led by co-chairs Marnite Calder, Connie Coleman, and Candy Ellis, took place in the Davidson College Knobloch Campus Center.
With a sold-out attendance of 450, the day began with coffee and refreshments before attendees heard from the morning speakers: Richard Bisgrove, director of the Landscape Management course at Reading University, who spoke on A Historical Perspective on Gardens: What is a Garden, and Why a Garden; and landscape architect Edwina Von Gal, who presented Style with Serious Purpose.
Lunch was served at Vail Commons, featuring tables decorated with wooden birdhouses a team assembled, led by Regina Roach. One lucky person at each table went home with a new birdhouse. The day closed with John M. Dole, interim dean, College of Agriculture and Life Science at North Carolina State University, presenting The Joys of a Cut Flower Garden; and author Marianne Willburn presenting Garden Building–Exploring the Process.
Art, plants, books, and puzzles could be purchased throughout the day. The work of local artists Meredith Harris, Melissa Reddick, and Robin Wilgus were both enjoyed and purchased, as were plants from Dearness Gardens.
“The high spirits, enthusiasm, and great atmosphere really are contagious,” said club member Mary Wilson Stewart. “The club works tirelessly for 11 months, and it’s obvious—even the speakers who lecture all over the world marvel at the level of detail and organization that carry over to their positive experience here at Davidson.”
For decades, veteran and beginner gardeners have come to expect a combination of wonder and delight from the Garden Club’s Horticultural Symposium, a day filled with beauty, new and old friends, topped off by insight and inspiration from world-class gardening experts. This year’s event was all that and more.
Allyson Ray has lived in and loved Davidson since 1996. She is a retired financial planner who enjoys retirement more than anyone she knows.