The inspiration for what would become Desert Designers took form in September 1983. Mary Cochran and Christie Brininger invited a group of garden club members interested in designing to a luncheon at Mary Cochran’s home. The idea of a designers group won immediate approval. The lunch also seemed to win approval as each contributed for the meal to start a treasury so the club could begin. It was our first fundraiser.
The new club planned monthly meetings, elected officers and set up a format where each member would bring a design on a selected theme for a friendly critique. Desert Designers was officially welcomed into membership in the Arizona Federation of Garden Clubs in October 1983 at the East Central District meeting at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center in Tempe. Christie Bininger served as East Central District Director and Anne Connor, President-Elect of AFGC, installed the officers.
After a successful first year of learning and lively fellowship, the club ended the year where it began, at a luncheon at Mary Cochran’s home. Desert Designers likes to eat as well as design. Our holiday potlucks attest to this.
Except for special occasion and holiday celebrations, the Pyle Adult Recreation Center in Tempe has served as the meeting place for the Desert Designers. In appreciation for the entryway cabinets with examples of floral designs. These would be on display for a month each time. We shared what we were learning and doing. Later in another example of sharing, we offered beginner designing classes in 1996-1997 to members of other garden clubs.
During the next few years, new members joined the group and it stabilized around a membership of 20-30. Different formats were used for bringing designs. Some years, every one brought a design to every meeting. In other years, members brought designs to selected meetings.
We remembered two former presidents and charter members with memorials. In 1991, we planted a tree in Tempe’s Joyce Park for Elzada Faurschou. In 2001, we contributed to the AFGC scholarship fun for Christie Bininger, who had been the State Scholarship Chairman.
From 1989 to 1999, the club sponsored the design division at the State Fair Flower Show. Members donated prize money from the Fair to the club. Since members won many first-place awards, the treasury swelled even with $5 dues. In 1999, dues went to $10 and in 2007 to $20.
With this infusion of money, the club sponsored a gala 10th Anniversary party in October 1993 at the East Central District Meeting. Colorado’s talented designer, Dixie Freudenberg, provided the program.
In 1997, Desert Designers created centerpieces for the design banquet at the Pacific Region Convention. In 1998-1999, we celebrated our 15th Anniversary with a Japanese floral design program and hosted the East Central District Meeting with a historical design program. In 2000, we represented Arizona in the Club Competition at the International Flower Show in San Diego.
On March 23, 2001, we held our first Standard Flower Show at Tempe’s Pyle Adult Recreation Center. We completed our PETALS project, a Kiosk at the Rose Garden at Mesa Community College. In 2002, we won the Club Competition Award at the Scottsdale Garden Club Flower Show. Its yearbook won first in its class in state and region.
The club celebrated its 20th Anniversary in October 2003 with a party at the home of its President, Sharron Luoma. In March 2004, the club staged its second Standard Flower Show, Make Believe, at the East Central District Meeting in Tempe. The yearbook won first in its class in state and region.
Again, in 2005, the yearbook won first in its class in state. We created floral designs for Mesa Community College using dried material for their desert campus. MCC planned to use the designs for special events.
In 2006, our yearbooks featured the Red Hot Desert Designers and rated 100 percent. In 2007, our yearbook won best in its class in state. It is getting to be a habit as Desert Designers won the Club Competition Award at the Scottsdale Garden Club Flower Show in 2007.
Desert Designers celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a Sonoran Serenade at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix on April 13, 2008 with over 350 attending. The 2008-2009 Yearbook, a blue ribbon winner, featured the 21 designs from that celebration.
During 2008-2009, Desert Designers invited members of nearby clubs to join them in learning basic design techniques. Two of these guests joined Desert Designers. They won second in the Club Competition at the Scottsdale Garden Club Flower Show in March 2009 with Marcie Brooks, Wanda Collins and Diana Johns coordinating the entry.
During 2009-2010, the club enjoyed a variety of activities. It created and donated the centerpieces to the state fundraiser, Sparkle, gave children’s books to local libraries, participated in the State Flower Show, It’s Showtime, with Marcie Brooks as chairman and embraced featuring the daffodil, NGC President Renee Blaschke’s Golden Days project. The yearbook garnered another blue ribbon. We remembered on of our charter members, Ruby Bundrick, with a memorial donation to the AFGC scholarship fund.
The group has truly been a designing one, having fun with flowers and becoming friends.