When the pandemic began, it was difficult for people to find any solace in being locked down in their homes for an unforeseeable amount of time. The same was true for gardeners. However, they were at least able to seek refuge from anxiety in the bliss of their gardens.
Like their own gardens, Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall became a refuge during the pandemic – allowing gardeners to form a community and strengthen their mental fortitude as things got tough in the outside world.
“I think all of us who were suddenly trapped at home without a lot of other support systems that we take for granted – extended family, friends, and so forth – our homes and our gardens became a refuge,” said Judi Burkhartsmeyer, president of the Sunshine Garden Club of Santa Clarita. “Nurseries, like Green Thumb, that allowed us to beautify our space really helped our mental health.”
This was one of the reasons the club, founded in 2013 and part of a statewide organization known as California Garden Clubs, gave an award to Green Thumb at a ceremony on Monday.
As far as how Green Thumb — and gardening in general — has impacted the community, Burkhartsmeyer said the proof is in the numbers.
“Most of us get into gardening because it gives us kind of a zen-like moment in our life and we feel productive and happy working in the dirt, seeing our flowers. So allowing that to continue during COVID wasn’t just a benefit to those of us here in California, it was critical nationwide,” said Burkhartsmeyer. “As a matter of fact, our club has seen a huge increase in membership as a result of COVID because people got back to gardening. There wasn’t a lot else they could do and so they started planting a garden… and suddenly discovered they really enjoyed it and wanted to know more.”
“We didn’t let [the pandemic] stop us from having our meetings and that was helpful, still being able to get together and talk with other gardeners and compare notes and be encouraged by each other,” said Rita Paul, secretary of the Sunshine Garden Club. “My husband and I are members of the club and we did a lot of gardening.”
Burkhartsmeyer said that since the pandemic, their membership has nearly doubled and it even added new members at the award ceremony on Monday.
Bryan Payne, general manager for Green Thumb Newhall, accepted the award on the store’s behalf.
“We’ve been in the community for 50-plus years and we love this community, we love our customers. We’re passionate about what we do here at Green Thumb,” said Payne. “COVID… was an exceptionally challenging time for everybody and for us as a business. It was challenging and wonderful at the same time because we had so many people come in… we couldn’t handle it… But we got through it. We all got through it [and] the yards are beautiful.”