The members of the Green Thumb Garden Club of Somers Point have been sprucing up landscapes since 1952.

"The club was started by women who really wanted to know a little bit more on how to take care of their gardens and enhance their landscapes," said Linda Keyser, former club president and Somers Point resident.

The club, which Keyser said last year boasted 31 paid members, has grown into an organization that offers competitions and events for local members. Among those events are a garden tour and various speakers, such as an upcoming presentation by Joseph Neidinger, florist and owner of the Secret Garden in Linwood.

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Members of the Green Thumb Garden Club also participate in the annual Ocean City Flower Show, maintain a native plant garden by the senior center in Somers Point and host a garden sale in the spring, in which many of the plants sold come from club members' yards.

"We have some great speakers lined up for this year," said President Diane Miller, of Somers Point. She said the club has a beekeeper and wreath-makers lined up to speak.

New this year was a garden tour and contest, with titles including best flower garden, best eco-friendly garden, and best beginner garden, Keiser said.

"The idea of having the garden contest was because we didn't have the competition that we used to," Keyser said. "The last one in Somers Point was in 1976."

More recently, Miller said, the club is increasing efforts to draw in younger gardeners - and more men.

"A lot of our members are 80 or older, most are nearing 60," Miller said. "We try to get speakers to try to draw in a younger crowd."

"The club is not exclusive to women but at the moment we just have one male," Keyser said. "Others come in, and they get a little shy around all these women."

The club's sole male member, Bob Ellis, 65, of Somers Point, whose wife is also a gardener, said he tries to tell the women of the club to bring their husbands, but so far none has shown interest - and are "probably more interested in football and baseball," he said.

"It surprised me it was mostly female members," Ellis said. "There are lots of men that are in gardening. I'm in gardening!"

There is a concern that, regardless of gender, younger generations are just not interested in gardening anymore.

"Gardening is a lost practice. Look at all the lawn people we have now - they weren't around 60 years ago," Miller said.

The Green Thumb Garden Club meets once a month, September to June. Joseph Neidinger will speak at the first monthly meeting of the season Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. at the Senior Center Building on Ambler Road in Somers Point. He will demonstrate flower-arranging.

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