Member Spotlight: Janet Manning

Janet Manning has been a loyal and enthusiastic member of the Garden Club of Denver for 22 years, and her passion for conservation and gardening extends back even further.  Janet was first exposed to GCD as a volunteer guide at Mt. Goliath.  The club had been the driving force behind the restoration of the Mt. Goliath trail, and, through her service there, Janet got to know Barbara Baldwin, Marilyn Wilson, Joanne Sinclaire, Lainie Jackson and Knobby Brown. She was later proposed for membership.

Janet was drawn to GCD because she has always been an active volunteer, and she thought the club could offer her opportunities to learn as well as make new friendships.  She continues to enjoy the unique inter-generational connections she has made through GCD. She has taken on numerous leadership roles including Co-Chair of horticulture and conservation, Recording Secretary and President from 2014- 2016 (the club’s centennial year!) She has also held a major role with GCA as Conservation Vice Chairman, Partners for Plants, from 2016-2018.  She says that P4P was the perfect GCA job for her.  She was charged with overseeing native habitat restoration projects all over the country.  While it was a significant amount of work, she loved doing it.

Outside of GCD, Janet has generously given her time to numerous other organizations. She has a passion for working with the homeless and has been active with MetroCaring.  She served as Executive Vice President of Junior League, chaired the Presidential Search Committee at the Iliff School of Theology, and served on the board of Sewall Child Development Center. She continues to be an engaged member of St. Barnabas Church, where she is the garden co-chair, and she cooks meals for the homeless every month at the St. Francis Center.

Janet was born in Minnesota and her family moved to Gunnison, where her father was a professor at Western Colorado University, when she was 2 years old.  Her father taught psychology and was a founder of Head Start in Ft. Collins.  His work took the family to Ft. Collins when Janet was 12, and she lived there until she started at Colorado College.  While at CC, she met her husband, Bob, to whom she has been married for 55 years.  Together they have two children and five grandchildren.

Janet’s current GCD passion is learning more about our archives and helping to preserve the history of the club.  Along with GCD Historian Sheilagh Hudon and Lindsay Dodge, she has been reviewing boxes of GCD papers, and thinking about what needs to be saved, and how it should be saved (paper files or digital or both), and what should be added to the GCD archives at the Denver Public Library. She has enjoyed learning about the strong GCD women like Ruth Waring who advocated for the creation of the Denver Botanic Gardens decades before it was started.

A few other fun facts:

Favorite plant or flower: Peonies, dahlias and roses (Janet says she can’t pick just one – it would be like picking a favorite child!)

Pastimes: Reading, gardening, hiking, and spending time with friends

Last book read: Erasure by Percival Everett, a satire about race and writing AND Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard about plant communication and intelligence (Janet says she is always reading one fiction and one non-fiction book)

Something GCD members may not know: Janet has a trophy for “Best Girl Skier” from Gunnison, 1959. Also, she became a cheerleader at CC when she went to watch her friends try out and there were not enough people to fill the squad.

Childhood career goal: policewoman or doctor (but, Janet says, the latter seemed unattainable for a woman at the time.)

One item she can’t live without: Comfortable shoes

If she could only eat one thing: Salad with her special homemade vinaigrette

Greatest passion: the natural world and its beauty, science, mystery, and conservation

What I Avoid Like the Plague: Paperwork (when Janet was club president, she hired someone to help her stay organized!)

Janet’s garden is a source of joy not only for Janet, but for the neighborhood as well.
Janet’s work as a Mt Goliath guide has helped many visitors to learn about flowers and plants found in the high altitudes above treeline.
Janet and her granddaughter.