‘Old-timers’ encouraging younger gardeners to join their Langley club

For three decades now, a geranium and fuchsia club has been meeting in Langley.

Jean Hausermann grew up in her parent’s greenhouse, and has always loved gardening.

She started growing a few geraniums in her own Langley garden and greenhouse some 30 years ago.

Somehow, and she doesn’t quite remember how, about that same time she became embroiled with a new group calling themselves the Valley Fuchsia and Geranium Club. She joked, adding it’s a great group of people and she loves the camaraderie.

Anyway, it didn’t take long – as her husband, Phil, tells it – before he too was fully immersed in her hobby. And together the pair started more and more plants from cuttings, and began selling them first to friends and then farther and father afield.

Soon, they were shipping both geraniums, and eventually fuchsia cuttings, throughout Canada, the U.S., and Europe.

Even though Phil was out of town a lot in those days, working as a heavy duty mechanic in logging camps, he found it relaxing to return home and join his wife in their greenhouse and garden, tending to their plants.

“I had a stressful job back then, and this was my relaxation. It was relaxing to fool around in the greenhouse,” Phil said. “It still is, although it takes a little more effort now.”

The elderly couple have since retired and moved further out in the valley, swapping out the greenhouse and property in Willoughby for a slightly smaller greenhouse and larger property in a rural neighbourhood of Abbotsford.

Despite the move back in 2014, Phil and Jean still flex their green thumbs as often as they can.

They currently grow about 1,000 varieties of geraniums, plus some 150 to 200 different fuchsias, and Phil brought some of their latest fuchsias and geraniums to the club’s recent plant sale.

“We’re happy to help,” he said.

Phil was one of a handful of what he calls “old timers” club members who participated in the club’s joint plant, garage, and bake sale in Murrayville a few weeks back.

Proceeds from the annual spring sale are used throughout the rest of the year to rent space for the garden club’s monthly meetings, explained Jean, who currently serves as club president.

The club has 24 members, said director Christine MacIntosh. “We’re small, but mighty.”

New members are always welcome, Jean elaborated, noting the club meets the fourth Tuesday of the month, starting at 7 p.m. at the St. Andrew’s Anglican Church (20955 Old Yale Rd.)

Anyone interested in attending is invited to call Jean at 604-381-3274.

The club continues to attract members from throughout the Lower Mainland, including Vancouver, Port Coquitlam, Surrey, and Abbotsford, Jean said, recalling how it has always brought like-minded gardeners together to share in their passion for these plants.

The club was started 30 years ago, by George and Tina van Rijn – of Chestnut Greenhouses in Cloverdale – and Cliff and Phyllis Anderson. They felt a club should be developed in the Fraser Valley, so they teamed up with several others friends and fellow garden enthusiasts. From there, the club grew, Jean said.

While the social aspect is a big component of the club, the president explained that these meetings typically feature a guest speaker to educate people on different aspects of the plants.