During the seventiesthe growing organization worked toward establishing its own Garden Center by holding a series of fund raising events such as house tours, plant and craft fairs, flower shows, and selling books and homemade goods. Big mahogany trees were planted at the animal shelter. Bike paths and picnic areas were added. A plant bank was established and landscaping courses were taught. The Garden Club took on the fight to stop the Lethal Yellowing palm tree disease.
In the eighties the club's projects included planting trees along U.S. 1 and Sombrero Beach Road. The organization became a founder of the Florida Keys Land and Sea Trust. Trees were planted at Marathon High School and the entrance to Key Colony Beach was landscaped. Members helped design and install "Welcome to Marathon" signs, and the "White Heron Award" was established.
The White Heron Award is still given to local businesses to encourage beautification projects. It started with roadside cleanups along U.S. 1, and today it features monthly awards to businesses along the highway between the Seven Mile Bridge and Conch Key. Judging is based on the appearance of a business's building, property maintenance, signs, landscaping, parking, and code compliance. Winners are recognized by the placement of the Garden Club's Great White Heron display in front of their establishment for a month.
The nineties brought recognition to the Marathon Garden Club when it was awarded the Governor's Environmental Education Award for its efforts to save the Queen Conch. The existing Garden Club Center was purchased and renovated, and today it is used for a variety of meetings, workshops, exhibits, flower shows, and educational programs. A kitchen adjoins a large octagonal function room with a high vaulted ceiling. It is available for the use of local agencies and organizations, as well as private functions such as wedding receptions.
For example, the Island Opera Theatre, the Keys only traveling repertory company, has performed at the Garden Club. School classes and other large groups can be accommodated at reduced rates. The Garden Club Center is also available for holiday office parties and other functions.
In addition to its community involvement, the club encourages members do their own part by improving the gardens and landscaping of their own homes and neighborhoods. Classes are taught by local experts on topics such as floral arrangements, landscape design, conservation, and orchid growing. The group networks with other garden clubs and trips are arranged to places like the Dade County Tropical Fruit and Spice Park. Annual events include plant sales each spring and fall, a flower show during the first week of February, and a neighborhood house and garden tour in March.
If you were to compare the Marathon of 50 years ago with today's city, you might be surprised to learn that many of the beautification and environmental improvements were due to the efforts of the local garden club. A variety of projects continue today, as club members work with local businesses and other organizations to beautify the area and protect the environment, through efforts such as improving the roadside appearance along the Overseas Highway and saving the endangered Queen Conch.
Call (305) 743-4971 for more information.
5270 Overseas Highway
(MM 50 Bayside)
Marathon, Florida 33050
The Marathon Garden Club is located at mile marker 50, bayside, across from the New Walgreens. A unique garden, gift and gardening shop is located on site. The club can be contacted at (305) 743-4971 or found on the Web at http://www.marathongardenclub.org/