By April 17, 2011 Read More →

Color for Everyone, Everywhere

Penny Binny, Modesto Garden Club

Color for Everyone, Everywhere
By Rebecca Murphy

Penny Binney,  President Modesto Garden Club

Modesto is alive with color. When you drive and walk around our community, you see big, bold splashes of color. There are amazing gardens, lush trees, handling baskets downtown, and then you turn the corner and you see a giant clock made of flowers. It is truly amazing and it is all the work of one of the most amazing Garden Clubs in the USA. Yes, right here in Modesto, the Modesto Garden Club has been raining color on Modesto for over 87 years. Let’s meet the President of this amazing volunteer organization that is the largest garden club in the nation with over 550 members. Penny Binny grew up in Hayward, and attended Chabot and Modesto Jr Colleges and is an experienced paralegal. She has been the President of the Modesto Garden Club since 2007 and is a very busy volunteer. ModestoView caught up with her before she gets into the very busy spring season as they prepare for their very important fund raising Garden Tour on May 7. Once you read this and see all that the Modesto Garden Club does, you will know why this fund raiser is so very important. This is not a club to join if you want to relax, garden club members deliver serious hours and make a huge contribution to Modesto. let’s get to know Penny.
to plant are they given a layout or do they create it themselves?

PB: We have Vice President’s (6), Directors, and Chair persons who work with the volunteers to create a plan for the project they are working on.
MV: How many hours do you spend being MGC President?
PB: At least 25 hours per week, if not more.
MV: Will you recommend a book or magazine for beginning gardeners?

PB: Sunset’s Western Garden Book: has almost every plant, tree, and grasses from A-Z. Garden Gate Magazine: gives you idea for planting groups of flowers.

MV: What is your favorite restaurant or meal?
PB: A good home cooked meal or BBQ always tastes better with friends around the table.

MV: What wonderful nurseries support the MGC?
PB: Four Seasons Farms, Frantz Garden Center, Morris Nursery, P&L Concrete & Garden Center, Park Greenhouse, Scenic Nursery, Westurf Nursery and Duarte Nursery.

MV: What is your primary source of funding?
PB: The MGC Annual Spring Tour on Saturday, May 7, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 and can be purchase at all the nurseries listed on the page 12.

MV: What is your favorite flower?
PB: I love all of them. My favorite tree is the Redbud.

MV: What do you think about the coming Historic CruiseRoute?
PB: This is the first time I’ve been made aware of the project. If it involves flowers and makes the City of Modesto beautiful with color, we are interested.

MV: What is your favorite spot and corner in Modesto?
PB: Would be the McHenry Mansion and McClatchy Park. MGC spent over $6,000.00 for plant material last year that was used around the home. We had 25 volunteers show up for the planting. City of Modesto asked the MGC if they had some volunteers to prune the roses at McClatchy Park and 8 volunteers showed up to prune over 200 roses.

MV: How long is your term of office at the MGC? How long have you been President?
PB: President’s term is two years and may be elected for an additional term of two years. In June, I will have been President for four years.

MV: How do you join the Garden Club?
PB: We love new members. Membership dues are $40 per year. You can join on the tour, or signup at a Garden Club Meeting, second Thursday of the month at the Modesto Senior Citizens Center, 211 Bodem Street (at Scenic Drive). You can visit the club’s web site,
I really enjoyed getting to know Penny and am completely amazed at all that the Modesto Garden Club does for Modesto, from the George Lucas Plaza, Arbor Day, workshops, table settings, out of town tours and the six $1500 annual scholarships. We hope you will get to know the garden club too.

MV: What is the most beautiful garden you have been in?
PB: For a very-very large garden I would have to say: Butchart Gardens, Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny or Marie Antoinette’s chateau at Versailles. On a local level, attend the MGC Annual Spring Tour and see: whimsical, historical; outdoor kitchens; water features and country gardens.

MV: Are there 3-4 annual flowers that you would recommend?
PB: Start thinking Water-Wise plantings. Modesto Garden Club partnered with the City of Modesto this past year and worked with Juan Tejada, Water Conservation Specialist, along with Anne Schellman, Horticulture Consultant. The City put together a 16- page magazine, outlining water-wise plants such as nasturtium, black-eye susan, marigolds, cosmos and grasses.

MV: Do you have a personal favorite
project the MGC is wworking on?
PB: Yes, the annual Modesto Garden Club Spring Garden Tour will be held Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour benefits our garden club projects. Visitors will tour eight gardens. Some with outdoor art; outdoor kitchens; water features; a water-wise, small space garden; a Mediterranean fantasy, a country garden complete with a barn and flowers.
The proceeds from our garden tour will benefit our community-based garden projects including the Modesto’s Flower Clock, the Courthouse Victims Garden, the Virginia Corridor Rose Garden, and George Lucas Plaza. We also support therapeutic gardening children’s education with garden projects and have 6 horticulture scholarships in the amount of $1,500.00 each.

MV: When MGC volunteers go out

Amazing Information about the Garden Club

How many volunteer hours are dedicated each year?  Hold on to your hats, this is an amazing list.

+ Flower Clock …………………129 volunteer hours

+ Downtown Flower Pots ………320 volunteer hours

+ Courthouse Victims Garden…..  88 volunteer hours

+ Senior Citizens Center………3,873 volunteer hours

+ Virginia Corridor Rose Garden.125 volunteer hours

+ Children’s Education………….660 volunteer hours

+ Therapeutic Gardening………..273 volunteer hours

+ Spring Garden Tour……………582 volunteer hours

+ Garden-of-the-Month………….121 volunteer hours

+ The Garden Club Office……… 671 volunteer hours

+ The McHenry Mansion………..  90 volunteer hours (one time planting 2010)

Did you know??

MV: Who waters all of your pots downtown?

PB: Downtown Improvement District owns the 273 downtown pots.  Last year the DID paid the City of Modesto $7,000.00 to water the plants in the pots. MGC purchased all the plant material in the pots.  This year the DID does not have the money to water the downtown pots, at this time.

Hanging Baskets

MGC bought 175 self watering hanging baskets. (City of Modesto requested they be

self watering.  The cost to MGC was over $20,000.00)  Last year the MGC planted 40

hanging baskets to be placed on J Street and we paid the City of  Modesto

$4,000.00 to water the baskets from May – November.  That’s $100.00 per pot.

If the DID cannot come up with the money to water the downtown pots, the cost then

would jump tremendously to water the hanging baskets.  Time will tell if the MGC

will want to hang the baskets.

Special & Standing Projects through the years
1924—Modesto Junior college-landscaped
1928—Arbor Day tree planting began
1932—Spring Garden tours began and Graceada Park magnolia trees and benches provided
1938—Municipal Golf course—trees provided
1939- -Community Christmas—first tree planted downtown
1962—Annual Camellia Festival began
1972—Memorial rose Garden established
1980—Great Valley Museum garden planted
1985—McHenry Museum front planter landscaped
1989—McHenry Mansion orange grove provided
1994—Historical Police substation landscaped
1995—Stanislaus Wildlife Care Center contribution began
1996—McClatchy Square Rose Garden Victorian style drinking fountain purchased and Residential Yard-of-the-Month contest began
1997—McClure Country Place Historical Landmark landscaping began
1998 Senior citizens Center landscape lights installed and secret garden began
Residential Senior Care Facilities chair gardening began
1999—Color Modesto project established with the City of Modesto, Graceada Park restoration funding provided
2000—Living, working Flower Clock
Office Project began
Victims’ Garden established
2004-05 Club Office Project completed
Demonstration Garden started
2007—Virginia Corridor landscaped with Knockout and Iceberg roses; provided benches along the adjacent corridor
2010—McHenry Mansion replaced with period flowers and shrubs

Modesto Garden Club Annual Spring Tour
The annual Modesto Garden Club Spring Garden Tour will be held Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The tour, which benefits local garden club projects, features the theme “Town and Country Gardens.  Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children (no strollers allowed).

Visitors will tour an eclectic array of eight gardens in urban and country settings.  Several homes will provide indoor glimpses as well and the Modesto Garden Club office and garden at 622 14th Street, Modesto, will be open for viewing. Tickets provide all the information you need on the gardens and their locations.

McHenry Museum Store, 1402 I Street
R.C. David, 1501 J Street
Scenic Nursery, 1313 Scenic Drive
Westurf Nursery, 1612 Claus Road
Four Seasons Farms, 1660 California Avenue
Marcy’s Hallmark Shop, 1700 McHenry



Posted in: featured

About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.