The Spring Valley Garden Club, founded in 1960, will be celebrating another longtime community organization — Brave Community Theatre, formed 12 years after the garden club — during the annual Ag Days flower show Friday, Aug. 18, at Spring Valley Estates.

“I was inspired to use Brave Community Theatre’s (BCT) 45th anniversary when I heard it was upcoming at the 2016 production.  I saw it as a way to connect two Ag Days events,” remarked Spring Valley Garden Club member Ann Ihrke, announcing the theme for the 2017 Spring Valley Garden Club Ag Days flower show, “The Play’s the Thing: A Salute to 45 Years of Brave Community Theatre.”

The garden club has many ongoing projects in addition to the flower show. The club’s work is evident throughout Spring Valley, but especially downtown where there are large tubs of petunias, “a way to beautify our community,” said Ihrke. The club also had a plant sale in May and a garden tour of several homes in and near LeRoy besides planting various flower beds and tubs around Spring Valley. 

The flower show is another way to share the beauty of nature and showcase the members’ talents. The show includes refreshments and live music by JJ’s Pickup Band.

“We always pick a theme for the flower show because it makes the show fun to plan.  We try to make every flower show theme fun,” said Ihrke.  “The club didn’t choose any special flowers for the anniversary of BCT.  We decide our theme early in the year so each member can decide for themselves if there is something special they want to plant for the show.”    

Ihrke didn’t have to sort through stacks and stacks of old newspapers to find the titles of the plays that BCT has performed. She contacted board member Jeff Thauwald and asked for a list of all plays ever performed by BCT, and luckily, the group keeps a database with that information.  Over the years, BCT has performed very few repeat plays, which include a wide variety — dramas, musicals, comedies and fairy tales.  In picking out which plays would be represented, the garden club’s members had a list to which they could refer. 

“We chose plays that the title suggested a theme or something to interpret,” noted Ihrke. “For example, one play we are using is ‘Our Town,’ which suggests using accessories that represent Spring Valley, and we chose BCT plays from all decades, so we might be representing a play they performed in or saw years ago.  But representing BCT’s history is a way to connect the two long-standing Ag Days traditions and celebrate the longevity of both.”      

Once the club chooses a theme, Ihrke has a process she goes through to arrange her flowers for the annual flower show. She usually starts with an accessory to represent the category, an item to go with the arrangement. For example, last year, the club’s “A Tour of Bluff Country” theme had one category called “town festivals.”  She built a Ferris wheel out of Tinker Toys, added battery-operated lights, and then figured out the flower arrangement. 

“The challenge came in transporting it to the show from my home,” said Ihrke. “I keep my category list close at hand for several weeks before the flower show and jot down ideas as they come to me.  Seeing how members use their imaginations to interpret the theme’s categories is great.”

Although the Spring Valley Garden Club has been around for more than 50 years, the members would like to see it keep going at least another 50, but only more new members can make that happen.  The club does have a couple new members this year, bringing total membership to 14, ranging in age from 30-something to 80-plus years. 

“We are always looking for new members,” said Ihrke.  “You don’t have to be an expert gardener or have a degree in horticulture.  Any age and interest level is welcome, or come to a meeting just to visit and experience it firsthand.  What I like about the garden club is coming together because of a common interest in gardening and forming social relationships as a result.” 

The Spring Valley Garden Club’s 2017 flower show on Friday, Aug. 18, runs from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the great room at Spring Valley Estates. More information about the club’s history, pictures of past flower shows and meeting information can be found at its website,  The club can also be contacted through the website and has an event page on Facebook.