By Christine Galeone, Contributing Writer
Hudson – During WWII, when Sandra Joyce was a small child, victory gardens were boosting morale. These vegetable gardens, planted by residents to reduce their reliance on the public food supply, were the Hudson resident’s introduction to the impact of gardening on people’s lives. Since then, her love of horticulture has grown. The National Garden Club’s master judge has enjoyed sharing her passion for gardening for years.
Although Joyce believes seeing her parents and grandparents grow vegetables, flowers and fruit influenced her, she became truly enamored with gardening as an adult. When she and her husband, John, bought their home in Hudson in the 1960s, it needed gardening and landscaping. To learn more, she co-founded the Hudson Garden Club.
“A lot of people here had property now that they had never gardened, and they wanted to learn about it.” Joyce said.
In the early 1970s, the couple agreed it could help put the kids through college if Joyce went to work outside the home. Because of the fun she had attending flower shows and learning, Joyce decided to take a class and turn her hobby into a career. Soon, she found a job at a Clinton flower shop. But after about a year and a half, her entrepreneurial spirit planted a new dream.
She recalled saying to herself: “You know? I could do this. I could do this on my own.” In 1975, she opened the Apple Valley Flower Shoppe in Hudson.
Joyce then became involved with the National Garden Clubs (NGC) and The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts. She even served as president of the latter from 1999 until 2001. Her hobby and career grew even further when she took the courses, did the research and completed the examinations to become an NGC Master Judge at flower shows.
In the 1990s, when a friend told Joyce and another judge that there was a great need in New England for NGC Flower Show School instructors, the easy-going Joyce was happy to oblige. Joyce laughed as she recalled that when both of them wanted to teach design, their mutual friend insisted that Joyce teach horticulture.
“But once I got into horticulture, I really was much happier,” she admitted. “I don’t think I would have been happy teaching design, because I did it every day of my life for 40 years.”
The accredited NGC Flower Show procedure, horticulture and symposia instructor said “meeting so many people across the country” has been the most rewarding thing.
“I think the friendship and the camaraderie and sharing of ideas is really important. And I really treasure that,” she said.
Joyce is also happy to offer advice. She advises gardeners: “Don’t take on too much. Don’t try to accomplish everything in one season.”
“One thing to remember is landscaping and gardening outside changes all the time from year to year,” she noted. “It grows, and it changes its look. So something that you put in that was small, you turn around five years later, and it’s overtaking. You have to plan well.”
Although Joyce recently sold her shop to a former employee, she continues to chair and judge flower shows, lecture at clubs and teach at NGC Flower Show schools. Joyce, whose favorite flower is the daffodil – partly because of its bright yellow beauty that pops up “when nothing else seems to be in bloom” – has more hopes and dreams. Although she has visited many of her favorite gardens, including The Huntington Desert Garden, The Butchart Gardens and local ones such as Tower Hill Botanic Garden, she would love to see Keukenhof, the gardens in the Netherlands where millions of tulips bloom. She also hopes that her work will help others to become more “environmentally conscientious.”