img_1891_2This year’s Silver Trowel award was given to Joan Andrews on January 26, 2012 at a meeting of the Orinda Garden Club (OGC). This award is given annually, usually at our holiday party, to an outstanding volunteer and Joan has been that for decades. She was unable to attend the holiday party so the award was presented as a surprise at her garden club meeting.

Which came first at The Gardens, Joan Andrews or OGC?  Which ever, it has been a productive and beautiful collaboration amongst all three.  Joan was an early volunteer and the Orinda Garden Club has been a partner with The Gardens ever since it was established in the early 70s.

As the first chair of the Development Committee, Joan developed the brochure, “What is Heather Farm Garden Center?”  In addition, she initiated an early membership drive along with establishing the tree and bench donation funds. In 1985 she spearheaded the project for the outdoor classroom (wooden deck and table area under the stairwell), used today as the gathering place for the many outdoor.

Joan served as President of the Board during 1986-87, while still the Development Chair. She was the leader in preparing the application for the Garden Club of America Founders Fund award.  The application was sponsored by the Orinda Garden Club and though GHF was not a first place winner, we were awarded two consecutive second place awards of $10,000 each which allowed the pavilion at GHF to be built in the late 80’s.

As if she hadn’t done enough already, in the 1990’s in partnership with Bob Cowden, Joan conceived the idea of creating the semi-circle garden of David Austin roses. The idea was implemented by OGC. For the last twenty years Joan has been the OGC representative of the project, and has been out maintaining the garden with the other OGC volunteers.  She has worked closely with Patrice Hanlon, GHF Garden Director, and has presented many of the Austin rose needs to OGC for financial and active support.  The Austin roses are a star in the Cowden rose garden providing an exquisite backdrop to the center circle of hybrid teas.

Joan appealed to OGC to further its commitment to GHF when she secured funds for the renovation of the Mural Garden.  And recently, Joan was the liaison between GHF and OGC in securing the seed money for the construction of the proposed lath and growing center at the gardens.

Volunteers are the mainstay of The Gardens, and Joan has truly been an outstanding one for decades. Thank you, Joan!