The Orcas Island Garden Club was founded in 1958. Currently our membership is around 150 members, mostly living on Orcas Island. We typically have 70 people at our monthly meetings.
Orcas Island has a population of approximately 5,000 people (more in summer!) and an area of 57 square miles. The island is shaped like a saddlebag, with a narrow isthmus at the top and the two distinct sections surrounding fjord-like Eastsound. The island topography is quite varied, with farm valleys, bays and inlets, and several mountains: Mt. Constitution, the highest point in the county, at 2,409 ft. Turtleback Mountain at almost 1500 feet; and Mt Woolard, at 1,180 feet.
Due to the hilly topography and lengthy shoreline, Orcas Island boasts a variety of micro-climates that create both gardening opportunities and challenges. Over the past two years, in a citizen-science project, club members have charted rainfall and temperatures around the island inorder to map the micro-climates. Most of the rain falls in spring and winter. Summers are dry, and water is a precious commodity for many gardeners. While the low-lying valleys typically have good soil, the higher elevations and shoreline areas usually feature thin soil over bedrock or no soil at all. The most damaging garden predators are deer, with bunnies running a close second. (Our members are always interested in deer-resistant plants.) Other member interests include flowers, ornamental trees and shrubs, vegetables, herbs and fruit trees, and organic and sustainable practices.
The Garden Club meets ten times each year -- September through June -- with nine of our meetings featuring presentations by expert speakers on a variety of garden topics, followed by a social hour with coffee, tea, and sweet and savory snacks. The June meeting is a picnic, followed by our annual garden tour on the last weekend in June. Monies from the tour help fund our programs and grants to island non-profits, including the "Farm to Cafeteria" garden at the public school, a seed library at the library, rain gardens in Eastsound Village, and many other wonderful projects.