Cass County Democrat Missourian

‘Gardeners are good people.’ Members from Cass and LS put hearts into beautifying area

Sharon Sommer of Pleasnt Hill and Kaye Morris of Lee’s Summit discuss the flowers during as tour of Bob and Frances Schmuck’s garden in Raymore.
Sharon Sommer of Pleasnt Hill and Kaye Morris of Lee’s Summit discuss the flowers during as tour of Bob and Frances Schmuck’s garden in Raymore. Special to the Journal

If you’ve admired the flower beds at the Lee’s Summit Social Services building, you’ve seen what some tender care from the Lee’s Summit Garden Club can do.

The club, which has many members from Cass County and other areas in the metro, did their annual planting and maintenance on the spot in May.

“We go all willy-nilly,” said Laurie Wilkins, club president and Raymore resident. “The gardens are well-planted already. We ask that people bring annuals with them.”

Last year, one part of the flower bed “wasn’t looking too sharp,” according to Wilkins. She put money she got from a garden club award toward buying bushes for that area to help attract butterflies.

“We have irises, columbines and cannas. We did concentrate heavily last year on putting in a lot of natives, because the city of Lee’s Summit was concentrating on monarch butterflies,” said Wilkins, who joined the club in 2000.

That partnership came about years ago, when the garden club met in a city building on Market Street. Instead of paying for the space, the city asked them to help with the gardening, Wilkins said. Although the group no longer meets on city property, they still happily help.

Now in its 25th year, the club meets about once a month to hear speakers and visit gardens — with the occasional service project thrown into the mix. One of the club’s regular projects is picking up trash downtown on their adopted street, a stretch of Third Street between Market and Southeast Green streets.

When it first started, the club was part of a state garden association. They broke away from that because the association was more interested in judged flower shows, and the people in the club were more focused on landscaping, Wilkins said.

As far as programs go, the speakers come from all different horticultural walks of like. Sometimes, it’ll be a Master Gardener, while another month, the speaker might be a beekeeper.

During the summer months, the members get outside and tour gardens. In June, they visited Bob and Frances Schmuck in Raymore to see a garden bursting with a variety of colorful vegetation, along with water features and a small working railroad track.

Occasionally, their field trips are farther afield. In past years, the members have traveled to Iowa for a tulip festival and to Omaha to see the Lauritzen Gardens.

But it’s not the speakers or the garden tours that keep the club going; it’s the friendly atmosphere.

“It’s a nice environment, and people have common interests. It’s nice to see people energized by the same thing, and that’s gardening,” said Brenda Downs of Lee’s Summit.

Fellow club member Sharon Sommer, who lives in Pleasant Hill, agreed.

“It’s the companionship,” Sommer said. “I think all gardeners are good people.”

The club also offers an annual $500 scholarship through the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg for horticulture students. This year’s winner, Christina Sperry, studies horticulture and agronomy and hopes to open her own community supported agriculture system.

You don’t actually have to live in Lee’s Summit to be part of the club, though most of its members do. Wilkins actually lives in Raymore and was a Grandview resident when she joined.

“They’ve not only allowed me to be a member, but I’ve held every office. We’re kind of a laid-back group,” she said. “We’re more about sharing with others and helping how we can in the community.”

For more information on the next meeting on July 9, go to the club’s website,