Garden Club hosts tea gala at historic property

Annie Blanks | 3154450 | @DestinLogAnnie |
The members of the Destin Garden Club, which held a "Southern Belle Tea to Remember" at the McIlroy estate in Destin on Tuesday morning. ANNIE BLANKS/The Destin Log

Ladies in pastel dresses and elegant hats sipped on champagne and munched on hors d’oeuvres at one of Destin’s most historic homes Tuesday morning.

The ladies there were all members of the Destin Garden Club, which hosted a “Southern Belle Tea to Remember” gala at the home of Peter and Pam McIlroy, a sprawling five acre estate on Calhoun Avenue with unobstructed views of the Choctawhatchee Bay. 

The views were the perfect setting for the Garden Club event. When they’re not having tea parties, the group meets monthly at the Destin Library to socialize and learn about various home and garden initiatives.

“We’re an unusual club,” said Pam McIlroy. “In the sense that we’re both a working club and a social club.”

The club is responsible for maintaining the grounds at the Destin Library. Library director Jurate Burns said the group maintains several garden beds around the grounds, one raised bed and even a butterfly garden.

“It’s wonderful. They come in and they do a lot of work. Last month, they filled 18 big black trash bags full of yard debris,” Burns said. “It’s a lot of labor, a lot of tax savings for the city because we really don’t have gardeners or people who have the love of flowers like (the garden club) does.”  

Garden Club chair Velda Dougherty said Destin’s unique environment poses some challenges to growing, but the garden club seeks to learn how to grow things that agree with the city’s habitat.

“It’s not always easy to grow things in this town,” Dougherty said. “But we do our best to learn and become master gardeners.”

The club has an entry fee of $35 a year, and everyone is welcome to join, according to Dougherty. The group invites an expert to each meeting to teach about various home and gardening techniques.

Marilyn Kennedy, garden club member and one of the hostesses of the event, said the members strive to be the best gardeners they can be.

“Whatever the topic is, we want to be an expert on that topic,” she said.