Magnolia Garden Club’s foundation is friendship.

The club in April celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Charter member Linn Blanchard has been with Magnolia all 50 years.

“I think we have a great club,” she said.

The club and the bonds it forms have not changed much since the beginning, she said.

“It was basically kind of like it is now,” Blanchard said of the first meeting.

“I cherish the friendships that were made over the years.”

A golden anniversary is cause for celebration. And celebrate the club did on April 20.

At the home of member Ray Sabalis, the anniversary was marked at Magnolia’s spring annual dinner.

Just before dusk, the ladies gathered for the event at Sabalis’ home on Broughton Street.

The group meandered to a patio and garden area behind the home where they posed for a group photo and made a toast to the club’s milestone.

Tables were set in the dining room and front hall of the residence, where the ladies enjoyed chicken tetrazzini and salad.

New officers were installed. Rosemary McGee, the 2015 president, said the 2016 officers include: Sabalis, president; Beth Thomas, vice president; Penny Summers, secretary, and Norah Thompson, treasurer.

Magnolia Garden Club was established by the Dogwood Garden Club on April 4, 1966. The club’s charter members were daughters or daughters-in-law of members of the Dogwood club.

The club, which meets the third Wednesday of each month from September through May, was federated on Sept. 7, 1978. It currently has 30 members.

Magnolia Garden Club has an affinity for gardening and flowers, but as one club member said, “We’re probably best known for our ability to cook.”

“It’s a garden club, but we do a lot of our own food and planning meals and such,” said longtime member Carol Riley.

The club engages in projects throughout the year and group activities.

During the 1970s, good cheer baskets were created for the needy, floral arrangements were made for the library and the club sponsored an anti-litter coloring contest in schools.

Wreaths were also made for the pediatrics unit at the Regional Medical Center (then known as Orangeburg Regional Hospital) in 1975.

The club’s program topics have included basic flower arranging and growing fruit trees, gardenias and hydrangeas.

“We used to have fall auctions. We would all make something. It was a wonderful time together. We would invite friends to join,” club member Theresa Marshall said.

Marshall said the club has also contributed to CASA, the H. Filmore Mabry Center for Cancer Care and the Orangeburg Arts Center.

“Lots of years, we’ve given a book to the county library,” she said. “We also donated magnolia trees and cherry trees to the Edisto Gardens.”

Marshall recalled local florist Julian Berry coming by in the 1980s to teach the women of the club how to make flower arrangements.

“We had so much fun,” she said.

A number of speakers have visited the club during dinners and business meetings.

At Christmas, the ladies host a Christmas get-together at one of the members’ homes and invite their husbands.

“There have always been beautiful parties in every home,” Marshall said.

Marshall recalled a friend of the club, the late Elroy Myers, playing the piano as the women would gather around to sing Christmas carols.

Those Christmas parties, Blanchard said, are among her favorite memories. She also looks forward to out-of-town trips the club has annually.

Following in the footsteps of being founded from another club, Magnolia played a similar role in 2006, helping establish the Petal Pushers Garden Club.

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