By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The holiday season is going to look greener in the many households in southern Brooklyn, thanks to the Garden Club of Bay Ridge, which held a Christmas basket-making workshop on Monday, giving members a chance to use their green thumbs to show off their creative sides.
Members gathered in a basement room at Christ Church Bay Ridge on Ridge Boulevard first thing Monday morning and quickly got to work filling wicker baskets with flowers, pine leaves, pine cones, red ribbons and bells.
“It really gives our members a sense of satisfaction to make their own baskets. It’s better than going to a store and buying one already made,” Club President Flo Troiano told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Many of the baskets will be donated to elderly homebound members of the club, Troiano said. The club has 51 members and many of them are senior citizens.
In addition to baskets, the club members created wreaths to be put on doors and sprays to be placed over graves at the cemetery.
The Garden Club holds a Christmas basket-making workshop every year. “Our members love it,” Troiano said.
The workshop harkens back to a time when everything was made at home, before commercialism and mass production took over the American consumer.
Carolyn DeLuca, chairman of the basket making event, said she purchases the supplies from Parkway Florist on Fort Hamilton Parkway. DeLuca said she gives owner Bob Lindsay a list of how many members are planning to take part in the workshop and he supplies the right amount of materials. “He knows exactly what to give us,” she said. Lindsay is the son-in-law of club member Melanie Proscia.
The supplies were placed on cafeteria tables and members were free to roam around going from table to table, selecting the ingredients for their baskets.
Members didn’t come to the workshop empty-handed. Each came bearing a Christmas present. “Our club is donating gifts to resident of the Augustana who don’t have families,” Troiano said. Lutheran Augustana Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation is a nursing home and rehab facility operated by Lutheran HealthCare, the entity that runs Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park. The unwrapped presents included bathrobes, slippers, sweaters, scarves, and gloves.
Club member Mary Quinones, who is a vice president at Lutheran Medical Center, suggested that the club donate gifts to Augustana, Troiano said.
The Garden Club of Bay Ridge dates back to the Roosevelt Administration. The club was founded in 1934 by a group of 11 women who were seeking to educate their fellow Bay Ridge residents about gardening and horticulture. Over the years, the baskets made by members have been donated to local churches, libraries, hospitals, and the US Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton, which is located in Bay Ridge. Club members also did landscaping work for schools and libraries.
During World War II, the club sent flowers and gifts to wounded military personnel at hospitals, sold war bonds, and helped Bay Ridge residents create “victory gardens.”
The club still has its own peony garden in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
In recent years, the club has been involved in many environmental projects, including the Bloomberg Administration’s “Million Trees” campaign to plant 1 million trees on city sidewalks. Several club members canvassed the neighborhood on foot, making note of dead trees that required removal, tree stumps, and trees whose roots had uprooted sidewalks.