As any Carolina gardener can tell you, the challenge here is not just getting plants to grow, it’s also about keeping them from completely taking over! Enter the St. James Garden Club: These dedicated gardeners create order from chaos to make sure our surroundings remain delightful to humans and nurturing to important pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

Setting their charitable sights “outside the gates,” the St. James Garden Club has partnered with FOLSOI to clean up the overgrown area behind Harper Library in Southport to convert it into a useful and beautiful space for library patrons. At the Garden Club’s April monthly meeting, FOLSOI President Carol Brolley accepted a $3,000 check from Club President Debbie Bailey to accomplish that goal, and gave a brief presentation to Garden Club members.

Carol noted that among the findings of FOLSOI’s 2021 “Voice of the Customer” survey was the lack of “welcoming spaces” for patrons to gather. By developing the area behind Harper Library, we hope to create a welcoming space for book clubs, children’s story time, summer reading programs, and teen programs as well as individual readers.

FOLSOI’s vision for the space includes clearing underbrush and cutting back trees to allow more sunlight to filter in, creating a patio with benches and other durable outdoor furniture, planting low-maintenance flowers and shrubs, and maintaining the resulting area in the years to come. Add to that Southport’s sunny weather and “salubrious breezes” and we expect library patrons – residents and visitors – will find this a charming spot!

Fifteen Garden Club members have volunteered to help with this effort, and we are eager to leverage their extensive horticultural knowledge and “can-do” attitude! Special thanks are due to Julie Paladino, FOLSOI and Garden Club member, who helped to advance this collaboration of organizations. We look forward to watching it grow!