In the late 1930’s, our economically broken Beaufort community was crawling … ever so slowly … out of the Great Depression.

By this time The Beaufort Garden Club was five years old. Because of the country’s dire financial straits, money was still very tight. In spite of it all, these ever optimistic garden club members defied the odds. Even during our Nation’s darkest economic times, these women found a bright spot! These gals pushed forward with their goal of “Beautifying Beaufort.” One of these ladies with fabulous foresight hatched the idea of having the garden club sponsor a “Plant Exchange” for the town.

This was the plan. Reserve the Community Club for a day. (The Community Club was situated on Carteret Street, where the Library now stands.)  Have all club members bring as many potted plants as possible, the plant stock coming from members’ individual gardens. Attractively display plants on tables for the public to look through. Have knowledgeable club members on hand to explain the care of various plants when asked. And … here’s the best part … GIVE THE PLANT, FREE OF CHARGE, TO ANY INTERESTED PERSON!!!

You’re probably conjecturing … Why???

You see, there was “method in their madness.”

The purpose of this generosity was to encourage Beaufortonians to take their “green treasures” home, nurture them, watch them grow, and find joy in the many ways plants added color, interest, and beauty to their properties and their lives. It was hoped that these “new gardeners” would be inspired to continue this trend on their own. This Plant Exchange not only gave joy to those who received the plants … but joy to those who wanted to share their passion for plants and flowers, as well.  It was a win-win situation all around!  In all my research, I was never able to find out who was the “master-mind” behind this ingenious idea … I would have loved to meet this brilliant woman! Maybe even share a watermelon martini…

Years later, in the early  1970’s , the “Plant Exchange” morphed into a “Plant Auction” ~ an intra-club fundraiser. This fun-filled project, which still continues today, is an excellent means of accruing funds for various club activities. It is amazing to behold, just how much a sister club member will bid for someone’s “prize plant.”

 This article was contributed by Carol Boone as part of a series honoring the 75th anniversary of the Beaufort Garden Club.