A Growing Community
The Bernardo Gardeners Club began in 1974 with only 13 members. Today, the club boasts 104 enthusiastic members, all of them dedicated to the club’s causes of civic beautification and conservation. Club members donate trees every Arbor Day, maintain the library gardens, provide garden therapy services, and award scholarships to horticulture students. They also, of course, take time to relax, socialize, and trade gardening tips and tricks with fellow members. We talk to Club President Audrey Koble to learn more.
Q&A with Bernardo Gardeners Club President Audrey Koble
What is the history behind the Bernardo Gardeners Club?
The Bernardo Gardeners Club was founded in 1974 by Alma Lee to pursue her interest in gardening. Our success is based on the efforts of dedicated members who support each other to achieve our goals. Together, we continue to grow in both membership and scope.
What is the club’s mission?
Our club’s mission is to create, promote, and further interest in horticulture, gardening, floral and landscape design, plant and bird life, and appreciation of the natural beauties of the State of California. We engage in civic beautification and assist in projects for the conservation of our natural resources.
How did you personally become involved with the Bernardo Gardeners?
I joined the club in 2007 after a friend invited me to a meeting. I enjoyed meeting the members and the speaker so I joined. I quickly became the webmaster for our website, historian, and the photographer. After five years I took on Membership Oversight – in charge of membership renewals and the database records.
What is your current role within the organization, and what duties does it entail?
In July of 2017 I was installed as president. I am still the Membership Oversight Chairlady, which brings me a great deal of satisfaction. I also am the contact person listed on our club’s brochure should someone be interested in learning more about our club. As president, I attend our district’s meetings, assist my chair people when necessary, am in charge of an activity or responsibility should there not be a volunteer (my choice), lead our monthly board and general meetings, and am involved in every activity we offer.
What is the most rewarding thing about your role? The most challenging?
Meeting the new members is my most rewarding aspect as president. It is a pleasure to meet so many nice people. We all share in the love of gardening and wanting to keep learning about all the different aspects of the garden world and being in tune with nature. I’m most challenged during our general meetings by having to squeeze all that we have to talk about in the short amount of allotted time.
What are the primary goals of the Bernardo Gardeners, both short-term and long-term?
Short-term: to continue to secure great speakers, offer fabulous and interesting trips and enjoy like-minded gardeners sharing their experience in all aspects of horticulture. Long-term: to keep improving our events, offer more ways to improve our community’s civic beautification needs, and increase ways of attracting new members so our club can continue to grow and thrive.
At-A-Glance | Bernardo Gardeners Club
Mailing Address: 12631 Peachwood Court
Meeting Location: RB Swim & Tennis Club, 6955 Bernardo Oaks Drive, San Diego, CA 92128
What have been some of the organization’s most memorable projects over the years?
I would say the 2010 Chelsea Garden (in honor of Poway High School’s Chelsea King), formally located by the old RB Post Office on Bernardo Center Dr., was a big one as it was an emotional time in our community. We received the California Garden Club, Inc.’s Palomar District’s First Place Award. The planning and creation of the RB Library’s Children’s Garden and the foyer garden was another source of pride and a memorable experience. Our latest ongoing project is the maintenance of the beautiful roses at Webb Park in Rancho Bernardo.
Are there any exciting new projects or events coming up soon?
Although we do not have any meetings in June, July, or August, we do have a bus trip planned for June 21 to visit a botanical garden and a nursery with international plants in Vista. In July we will have, by invitation, a new member brunch at a member’s beautiful home. September will be our first meeting and will feature an expert speaker to talk about vermicomposting. In October we will be having a bus trip to the Huntington Library and Gardens with an optional “English Tea” Service.
Can you tell us a bit about some recent guest speakers? What have been some memorable presentations over the past year?
Our last few speakers were crowd-pleasers. The very knowledgeable David Ross, Sr. Manager of Walter Andersen’s Nursery/Poway, presented plants that grow best in our area and new plant varieties. The dynamic Giselle Schoniger from Kellogg Garden Products captivated our members and guests with her discussion on the different soil amendments Kellogg offers and soil requirements for specific plants and trees. We have had so many great speakers over time. The Bat Lady, Francie Spears, who brought her bat Ollie to a rather slightly scared but fascinated audience, was terrific. Team speakers Bert and Sharon Kersey, whose video “Back Yard Barn Owls” brought out laughter, shrieks, and giggles by attendees.
Can you tell us a bit about your annual garden tour event? How did this year’s tour go?
Great! We offered attendees five gardens to visit in the Rancho Bernardo/Poway area. The weather was beautiful despite a gloomy forecast of rain, and 200+ people thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Lovely comments were made with the repeated message that all the homes were unique and gave them ideas for their home landscaping projects.
Are the Bernardo Gardeners involved in any volunteer work? How does the club stay involved with the local community?
The Bernardo Gardeners Club is a volunteer club. We donate time to several community organizations and perform philanthropic services. Our Garden Therapy Project delivers enjoyment to both the Gateway Assisted Living home residents and our dedicated volunteers alike. Once a month from October to May, a themed craft is worked on together. The residents really look forward to this fun event. Civic beautification is a major part of our club’s mission. Volunteers maintain the Children’s Garden at the RB Library and the garden at the library entrance. Our club also creates a plant or flower arrangement at the library weekly. We donate funds to three local schools and are looking for another elementary school, hopefully in the 4S Ranch area.
“We all share in the love of gardening and wanting to keep learning about all the different aspects of the garden world and being in tune with nature.”
How would somebody go about joining the Bernardo Gardeners? What is the criteria for membership?
The only criteria for becoming a member is enjoying being with others while improving garden knowledge in a fun atmosphere. Annual membership dues are $25 per person or $35 for a person and their spouse or significant other. Membership dues are due each June 1. An application form is in the colorful brochure featured in the foyer of the RB Library. One can go onto www.bernardogardenersclub.org to the “Join Us” tab and print out an application form and with their check, mail it to the address indicated on the application. There is also an email address listed on the “Join Us” tab should a person wish to contact an officer for further information.
At-A-Glance | President
Name: Audrey Koble
Profession: Retired – Mortgage Services
Community of Residence: Poway
Hobbies & Interests: Gardening, traveling, photography
Favorite Local Spots: Bernardo Winery, 4S Ranch shopping complex
Is there anything you’d like to share that most people don’t know about the Bernardo Gardeners?
We offer three trips a year to various garden-related sites throughout Southern California, with an emphasis on San Diego County. We have five meetings a year where we feature a speaker who is an expert in his/her field. We have many community-related projects and offer scholarships to students transferring to a four-year college or learning institution majoring in horticulture studies. We also contribute to the Backyard Produce Project, which grows food for local needy people. In addition, we donate funds to support three local elementary schools.
Is there anything else you would like to add for our 92127 Magazine readers?
We look forward to meeting residents in the 92127 zip code area and we would be happy to welcome them into our club.