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Annual Garden Gala attracts overflow crowd

February 27, 2019
By ED FRANKS ( , Pine Island Eagle

Cars were parked along Stringfellow Road as far as the eye could see Saturday for the 18th annual Pine Island Garden Club Garden Gala at Phillips Park.

"I've always been a gardener," Garden Gala Chair Beth Smith said. "I gardened in Maryland but gardening in Florida is so different. That's one of the reasons I joined the Garden Club, to learn how to garden in Florida. I still have a lot to learn but it's very interesting."

This years gala included over 70 vendors with a variety of nurseries, garden art, local artists and local businesses. Additions this year were an All Native Garden Center, Little Gator Farms and Edison Ford Winter Estates.

Article Photos

Castle Creek Bonsai plants.


"This year's theme is 'Go Native,'" Smith said. "We want to encourage people to use native plant landscaping while at the same time celebrate the plant history of the Calusa Indians."

There were five lectures this year. Kraig Hankins, environmental biologist, spoke about "The 10 Worst Lawn Mistakes;" Dolly Tomlinson, Master Gardener, spoke about "Planting an Herb Window Box;" Kathy White, Master Gardener, spoke about "Adding color and personality to your Garden;" Donna Cook, Pine Island Garden Club, spoke about "Flora arranging using plant material from your yard;" and Marty Kendall, Master Gardener, spoke about "How the Calusa Used Our Plants."

"This is my first time as chair and getting everything together but I had a lot of help," Smith said. "It takes all hands to get this done and I'm thankful everyone pitches in. We made a few changes by adding a raffle wheel and restructuring the raffle and this year we added Craig Timbes to emcee the event."

Local merchants and individuals donate raffle prizes for a silent auction and for the raffle, as well as donations of baked items for the sale. Little Lilly's Island Deli offered a selection of lunch items.

"Marty and I have been to every Garden Gala and I can say this has to be the nicest day and the most people we've ever had," former Calusa Land Trust president John Kendall said. "All proceeds from the gala will be donated to our island charities such as the Calusa Land Trust, CROW, Beacon of HOPE, Pine Island Food Pantry and to assist the Pine Island Elementary School."

"For my first time I though everything went quite well," Smith said. ""Everyone here is so helpful and so friendly I could do it again. Pine Island is like one big extended family."

Frank Tuma provided hours of island music.



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