Lake Minnetonka Garden Club

One local gardening club proves it’s not all about the plants.
Heidi Heiland, a 15-year member of the LMGC, tends to the plants in her home garden.

Deep roots. Family trees. Blossoming love. Personal growth.

The English language itself speaks volumes as to how closely gardening seems to be tied to family, friends and community. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club (LMGC) has spent the last 85 years striving to share their passion for plants with the lake-area community.

With nearly 140 members, the LMGC is a well-rounded organization with many foci of interest and expertise, including garden history and design, horticulture, flower arrangement and shows, photography, and conservation. As president, Wayzata’s Sally Hornig oversees and participates in all aspects of the organization, though individual members are encouraged to find a niche that best fits their unique interests. “The other members all have a wealth of different skills and knowledge,” explains Hornig, “and we all seem to absorb from each other.”

Each member’s total time commitment to the club varies based on their selected area of interest, the time of year, and any potential titles or board positions they may hold. Heidi Heiland, a second-generation member with nearly 15 years under her own belt, recalls thinking long and hard before taking the plunge and applying for membership. “It’s a serious club,” explains Heiland, a Plymouth resident. “This is the 303 of gardening clubs—not the 101. I knew I had to wait until I could be a good steward [before I joined].”

The total membership in the club is relatively static, and new applicants are only considered once a spot opens up—a rare occasion, according to Hornig. Then begins an internal nomination, voting and selection process that will ultimately shape the next era of the LMGC. New prospects must be nominated and sponsored by a current member in order to be considered.

So who exactly are they looking for, you might ask?  “Well, I don’t know if there is a typical member,” admits Heiland. “Basically, we’re all just people who have a passion for plants, and want to be involved and give back to the community.”

And sharing that passion is something that not only ties the multi-faceted club together, it’s one of the cornerstones of the organization itself. Since its inception, the LMGC has donated more than 240 acres of land—establishing both the popular Minnesota Landscape Arboretum as well as a prairie marsh dedicated to the conservation of the white Lady Slipper orchid, Minnesota’s state flower. They are involved in multiple civic projects, including the Camp Courage Fragrance Garden and the Harriet Tubman Garden project, as well as annual social gatherings like the Bulb Sale Booth during James J. Hill Days in Wayzata and the last summer’s Flower Show at the Arboretum.

Perhaps their most high-profile local endeavor is the yearly planting and maintenance of the Wayzata Depot Gardens, which are open to the public. Members of the LMGC meet at the Depot every Monday morning “from snow melt to snow fall” to plant, weed, prune and water their ever-evolving installment.

The Depot project is supported by all members of the organization—regardless of their position in the club—and attendance is required. “A no-show is a no-no!” warns Hornig good-naturedly, though for a gardener, getting out in the sunshine can hardly be considered a chore.

“And it really gives you a way to connect with people,” says Heiland. “You work with women you admire who you may not have time to see otherwise—basically, it’s socializing in a very active way.”

The regularly scheduled maintenance not only allows club members to catch up, educate themselves on new plant varieties and trade growing tips amongst themselves, it also presents a unique venue for the group to interact with interested members of the community as well.

“And really, that’s how gardening began,” says Heiland—“sharing things over the fence.”


Read up on the Lake Minnetonka Garden Club’s latest conservation efforts and community outreach by visiting the club's website.