Sharon Miller at 2011 Lakebay Fuchsia Society sale. Photo courtesy of Frank Shirley.

The Lakebay Fuchsia Society, established in 1995, holds its 21st annual sale May 7 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Key Peninsula Civic Center. A wide variety of fuchsias plus some annuals, perennials and vegetable starts will be available.

Organizer Sharon Miller belonged to a fuchsia club in Snohomish and when she and husband Loyd moved here, she missed her friends in that group. She gathered some people interested in gardening to her home and proposed the idea of a Key Peninsula club.

Rose Grant and Sandra and Earl Forsythe helped set up a meeting that included a Fox Island couple, Bill and Evelyn Tyler, who had belonged to a Seattle club. The Lakebay Fuchsia Society was born.

Original charter members who are still involved include the Millers, the Forsythes, Nancy Rehusch and Ginnie Aardahl, their current president. Sharon Miller had been a representative to the Northwest Fuchsia Society, where she’s now president, for assistance with their bylaws.

The Northwest Society gave them $50 for startup funds back in the beginning and a club in Oregon also sent $50. Meetings were first held at the library and top membership reached 50 or more, with nearly that many in the group now.

Meetings are held in the Whitmore Room, KP Civic Center, on the first Thursday of each month except January and September, with a Christmas party in December.

“The Northwest Society is a great organization,” said Miller. “Malls [in the Seattle area] paid us to put on flower shows, but required us to pay for the liability insurance.” It was a huge amount, so they bought it as a group for all of the clubs, an average of about $6 per member.

Representatives from each fuchsia club make up the Northwest organization, from the Canadian border to one in Beaverton, Oregon. They purchase books as a group to resell to club members, and also have a training program for show judges.

“I trained judges,” said Miller. She realized that judging was very involved and created a manual to be used for the process. She ran a judging show for the KP Community Fair for a few years, teaching judging rules for both vegetables and flowers.

“Members of the Lakebay Fuchsia Society were not too interested in flower shows, but they’re all gardeners,” said Miller. They created their fuchsia garden at the civic center in 1998 and sell many items from their own gardens at their annual sale.

Fuchsias from small starts to full flowering baskets will be at the May 7 sale, complete with knowledgeable members on hand to offer advice and information.

“It’s been fun,” said Miller, “but there are days I get tired of being on my knees with my nose in the dirt!”

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