Find Your ‘Soil Mate’

Soil Mates Garden Club creates gardens at Liberty Ridge Senior Living


Soil Mates Garden Club was first organized in early 2000. Twenty years later and gardening continues to be anything but a mundane hobby for members of the club.

The club is affiliated with the Garden Club of Kentucky, which means they are encouraged to do a Civic Project each year as a way to give back to the community. Past civic projects have included a plot at the Arboretum, the Beulah C Nunn Garden at the Mary Todd Lincoln Home, and gardens at Hope Lodge in Lexington.

Since 2018, their project has focused on the gardens at Liberty Ridge Senior Living, but none of the members of Soil Mates are actually members of the Liberty Ridge community.

“The first year we just did one garden; but we have expanded to 2 gardens for the last couple years. We design the plantings, then plant and care for the gardens throughout the summer months,” explains Joanne Fortson, who serves as the club’s secretary and historian.

“I moved to Kentucky from Colorado about 4 years ago. Within my first couple weeks in this city, I contacted the garden club to learn about membership. I was looking for new friends with a shared interest in gardening. She continues, “I found much more than I was looking for in this group!  I love my Soil Mates ‘sisters,’ and have learned a lot about gardening in Kentucky through this club.”

While COVID has canceled many of their activities in the recent months, brief business meetings are typically held once a month with a program or activity to follow. The club has toured specialty gardens, greenhouses, and farms including a garden designed by Joseph Hillenmeyer, the gardens at Castle and Key Distillery, a hemp farm, and a hosta farm. Other programs are gardening basics like a pruning demonstration and exotic how-to’s like planting and caring for bonsai.

Last year, Liberty Ridge gave the club a luncheon as a thank you, but because of COVID that was not possible this year. Instead, a plaque was made to place in the raised circular flower bed of one of the gardens thanking the Soil Mates Garden Club for the garden.

“Working the gardens at Liberty Ridge allows me to contribute to a community project that brings happiness to the residents and staff of Liberty Ridge,” says Debra Feheley, Treasurer of the club.

Anyone who is interested in being a part of the club is welcome. Prospective members can email at

Forston adds, “The Lexington Council of Garden Clubs lists 5 other garden clubs besides ours here in the Lexington area. Everyone has quite a choice of clubs if they are interested in gardening. Half of the clubs meet in the daytime (we do), and the others meet in the evening; so you are sure to find one that meets at a time that is convenient for you.”



This article also appears on page 15 of the November 2020 print edition of Hamburg Journal.

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