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A growing concern

"For the first time in 40 years, a man is at the head of a Coupeville army of mainly retired townsfolk armed with hand spades, water cans and pockets full of seed.Gordon Eaton, a retired Coupeville resident with a lot of energy, was recently chosen by the 40 or so members of the Coupeville Garden Club as the 2001 president. It's the first time since the club was founded that a man has ranked supreme.He says it's been a woman's club up until a few years ago when he and a couple of other men decided to join. They wanted to share in the fun of being outside and playing in the dirt, the comraderie and the responsibility of keeping Coupeville looking beautiful. The women were tickled to have the men join and, of course, help out.We share a love of flowers and flowering plants and a love of Coupeville, he said. It's a combination of both things.As the head honcho, Eaton said he plans to keep up with all the good work that the garden club has done over the years and also add a couple of new projects to the group's packed schedule.Club members plant and maintain the 70 whiskey barrels that are displayed all over town. The barrels are filled with tulip, daffodil and other bulbs that bloom in the spring. After that, the members dig the bulbs out and replace them with plants that flower in the summer.The club cares for four of the town parks, including large Captain Coupe park, plus the landscaping around the town's entrance sign. There are club members who also work in the schools with children and teach them about gardening.During the town's annual Memorial Day Parade, garden club members hand out live plants to every girl and woman along the parade path.This year Eaton said he plans to tackle a giant landscaping project around the town rec hall. He said the club got a large chunk of money from the town's Arts and Crafts Council for lots of plants.The club is also educational. Each monthly meeting features a member who gives a horticultural-related speech, while a guest speaker addresses an issue related to the club. Town Mayor Nancy Conard, for example, spoke at the last meeting and discussed her plans for the town. It's incredible, everything they've done, said Conard, a self-professed big fan of the Coupeville Garden Club.The list of projects they are undertaking this year is just amazing. Faye Gordon, the club's treasurer, said the secret of the club's success in recent years has been it's creative fund-raising efforts. When she started seven years ago, she said the club had very little money to work with. Gordon had just moved into a house with a yard full of perennial plants, so she started digging them up and selling the plants at the rec hall.She started a tradition. Now every April the garden club has a big plant sale at the rec hall. The club also started selling plant-related items during the Greening of Coupeville festival.The money that the club raises goes back into the community in the form of plants and garden-related materials. In recent years the club members have raised an excess of funds and were able to spend money on a larger project. Last year they commissioned a bronze statue and fountain of a young boy - named Randy - pouring a bucket of water over his head. It stands in Cook's Corner park. Eaton said this summer the club members plan to add a statue of a girl next to Randy. He hopes to name the bronze girl Sally after Sally Hart, a garden club member who recently passed away. "

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