Bobbie Farrell is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights and member of the Village Garden Club. She discusses her involvement in the Western Reserve Herb Society, including in conjunction with the Cleveland Botanical Garden, the Horseshoe Lake dam controversy, the importance of planting native species of trees and plants for sustainability, her time as president of the garden club, the club’s Cherry Tree Grove, older members’ involvement in stopping freeways planned in the Shaker Lakes.
Farrell, Bobbie (interviewee)
Cameron, Caitlen (interviewer)
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:00] Alright. Hello, my name is Caitlen Cameron, and I'm here with...
Bobbie Farrell [00:00:05] With Bobbie Ferrell. I will spell that for you.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:10] Yes, that would help.
Bobbie Farrell [00:00:10] B-O-B-B-I-E. And my last name is Farrell, F as in Frank, A-R-R-E-L-L.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:20] Alright. It is Wednesday, June 30th. It is kind of muggy outside. It's on and off rain all day. But it is beautiful out. No rain right now, which we're a little lucky for that, but I'm here with Bobbie to talk about the Village Garden Club and her experiences in it, and I can't wait to get started. Are you ready?
Bobbie Farrell [00:00:42] I'm ready.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:45] Okay. So, I kind of just want to start with some basic background. So when were you born?
Bobbie Farrell [00:00:51] I was born in 1943.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:54] Okay. Were you born around this area?
Bobbie Farrell [00:00:55] Actually I was born in Oak Park, Illinois.
Caitlen Cameron [00:00:58] Oh, okay. What is that like?
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:00] Well it was... I was... We moved back to Ohio when I was very young, but in college I had a roommate who lived in Oak Park, Illinois, in a Frank Lloyd Wright house.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:12] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:12] So it was fun to go back to Oak Park and stay with her in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. And there are several in Oak Park.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:20] That's amazing. So when did you leave? Like when did you finally migrate out of there?
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:27] Oh, to Ohio? When I was in kindergarten.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:33] In kindergarten! Okay. So you were born there but you weren't there forever.
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:36] Forever, right. Right. So I've been in Cleveland, specifically Cleveland Heights for many years. For fifty years. Over fifty years.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:47] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:47] So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:01:47] So why did your parents move here?
Bobbie Farrell [00:01:49] My father's job. My father was in a savings and loan at the time, which is something that doesn't exist anymore. But it was... He gave out home loans and worked. He was vice president of a savings and loan company.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:06] So what did your mother do?
Bobbie Farrell [00:02:08] My mother was a homemaker, an avid golfer. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:12] Really? Was she good?
Bobbie Farrell [00:02:14] Well, they belong to a little... A small golf club, which is now a country club. And yes, she, you know, she just sort of competed in matches there. And yeah, she enjoyed it. She really enjoyed it.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:32] Thanks. Did you ever play golf with her?
Bobbie Farrell [00:02:34] I played golf with my... Yes, I think I did. I played golf with both my mother and father, but mostly I played with other children and young adults my age until I finally gave it up. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:48] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:02:49] In college. It's... Yes, it was too slow. I didn't have the time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:56] Yeah, I never played golf either, so I understand.
Bobbie Farrell [00:02:57] [Laughs] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:02:59] So you said you went to college. Where did you go?
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:02] I went to DePaul University in Greencastle, Indiana.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:06] Really? I have a friend that goes there.
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:08] Oh really?
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:08] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:08] Oh my goodness. Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:11] So what did you study?
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:13] I studied romance Spanish and... But then I as we were saying earlier, I spent a year at the University of Madrid and then came back and was teaching at Hathaway Brown where I met my husband, and he is an emeritus, retired professor of physics at CWRU.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:39] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:39] And at that time I could get my master's for... At no expense as being related to a full-time professor. So I got my master's in romance languages.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:53] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:03:54] And, and continued to teach for a little while.
Caitlen Cameron [00:03:58] So do you... So how long did you teach?
Bobbie Farrell [00:04:00] I taught for about ten years off and on. I taught at Hathaway Brown and then we had a sabbatical. One issue, you know, one sort of perk of academic life is that every seven years you get to take a year off. And my husband was still working. But...
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:20] Oh, you didn't get to do it together?
Bobbie Farrell [00:04:22] Yes, but we took the family myself and our four children went to Oxford, England, where he had a sabbatical, and he has a family nearby. And in fact, his cousin lives in Oxford and is married to an Oxford don, an algebraic topologist. Unfortunately, they've both passed. But we had a wonderful time at Oxford and his parents were alive and his brother is still in England so it was... He was working at the university, but it was a nice family...
Caitlen Cameron [00:04:56] That's amazing.
Bobbie Farrell [00:04:57] Gathering, too, so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:02] Wow. So that's great. So what [do] your husband and you do now?
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:04] Well, he is a retired professor of physics and he has been involved with the Emeriti Academy at
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:14] Case. But he's also... While he was getting his Ph.D. in physics, he also got a licensiate from the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:22] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:23] And so he's always played the piano. And right now he is going back to his favorite music, the Bach Preludes and Fugues. And he is playing through those...
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:34] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:35] And memorizing the 48 Preludes and Fugues.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:39] That's amazing.
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:39] He's not far along yet, but that's, that's his goal.
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:42] That's still an amazing goal, so that's great.
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:44] [Laughs] Right!
Caitlen Cameron [00:05:44] And you, are you just encouraging. or are you... [crosstalk]
Bobbie Farrell [00:05:47] Oh, yes. Yes. No, I'm, I'm encouraging. Although we have now a digital, not a digital piano. We have a virtual piano which... And so he can put on headphones and only hear himself so.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:05] Well, that's amazing. Okay. So, back to you. I know your husband is amazing, but also so are you. I would just like... So when did you start going? So was that back when you were a kid or no?
Bobbie Farrell [00:06:18] Oh yes. Well, I think I was interested in gardening when I was a kid. I always remember that my mother got a box of pansies every year on Mother's Day and we would plant the pansies and... But she was never really much of a gardener. But I remember in elementary school in Cleveland, there was a gardening program. It may have been leftover from the days of Victory Gardens, but you were given seeds and instructions and you went home and you planted your own vegetable garden.
Caitlen Cameron [00:06:53] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:06:53] And I did that for a few years with my dad's help more than my mom's. But but my first interest in gardening was herbs. And I was a member of the Western Reserve Herb Society...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:08] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:07:09] And for many years and because we lived in a house that had a lot of sun, and herbs love sun. So that was my first real attempt at my own gardening...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:23] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:07:23] Was with herbs. And our first house also had a rose garden. So I had to work to maintain the rose garden, but my plantings were herbs.
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:33] Were herbs.
Bobbie Farrell [00:07:34] So...
Caitlen Cameron [00:07:36] Were you good at growing them?
Bobbie Farrell [00:07:37] Well, they grow themselves, really. They, they're very not fussy. They don't mind the clay soil that we have in Cleveland Heights. They don't want to be wet, they don't want wet feet, but sun and a little bit of rain or watering and they're very happy. And I love the fragrance, the thyme and oregano and rosemary. Well, rosemary, you have to bring in, but so many others that you can grow outside...
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:05] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:06] That are...
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:07] Do you have a favorite herb?
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:08] Let me see. Well, my favorite herb because of its fragrance is lavender, and lavender is a perennial so you can leave it out in your garden and generally it will survive the winter and thrive and grow. So right now, lavender is my favorite.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:27] Lavender. I have some huge brushes in my yard right now and I'm so proud of them. But at the same time, I'm nervous because we're tearing down trees and I'm like, watch for the lavender, please!
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:39] Absolutely! Absolutely. I know. But if it's really well established, hope... it should be. It should survive.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:46] It should survive.
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:47] Yeah. In fact, I was just making lavender wands with my granddaughter last week. I harvested some of the lavender and made lavender wands.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:55] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:55] So that was fun. Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:08:57] That's cool. How do you do that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:08:57] Well, you pick I think an odd number of stems, usually eleven I think. And you bend the stem, you bend the stems over the flowers so that here are the flowers and you bend the stems over so that you're covering the flowers...
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:20] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:20] And then you weave ribbon in and out of the stems.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:25] Ohhh.
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:25] And so you have a little, a little wand and then you just win the ribbon around the.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:30] The base.
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:31] The base...
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:31] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:32] The empty stems after you've covered the flowers inside and wind it really tightly. So when they dry, they won't fall out, and you can put it in your cupboard, hang it somewhere where you'd like to sniff lavender.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:48] Sniff the lavender?
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:49] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:50] Where did you learn that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:51] At Western Reserve Herb Society.
Caitlen Cameron [00:09:54] Really? Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:09:54] We used to have there used to be a big herb fair and we would make oils and vinegars and confections and wreaths from dried herbs and also lavender wands and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:08] Wow. Tell me more about like, so the Western Reserve one, like what that organization was like?
Bobbie Farrell [00:10:15] Oh well, they maintain an herb garden at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and it was a gift. And it's been... I think it was started when it was just at the Garden Center of Cleveland. It was started, oh, in the '50s maybe.
Caitlen Cameron [00:10:36] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:10:36] And it's been maintained by the Western Reserve Herb Society. We... Every Tuesday during growing season, we go into the many gardens that are the medicinal garden, the dye garden, the rose garden, you know, sort of testing new herbs garden, and we weed and maintain and plant and, during the summer, and then in October, we everything is harvested and we have the herb there. And winter is just assessing and evaluating and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:13] Yeah, it's a little break, too, right?
Bobbie Farrell [00:11:15] Right. Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:11:16] That's amazing. So if you were there, how did you migrate to the Village Garden Club?
Bobbie Farrell [00:11:23] Well, that, I was so grateful to be invited to join the Village Garden Club. I had a good friend and neighbor, Irene Smith, who belonged to Village Garden Club, and another good friend, Bland Banwell, who was also a neighbor who proposed me for membership in the Village Garden Club, and that's when I really started to learn about perennials and gardening. And I'm constantly learning. But I really, through their programs, horticultural programs, and I really started learning more about gardening. And so Village Garden Club is such a wonderful group of very accomplished women who love gardening and love to share their knowledge of gardening. And so it's been a wonderful experience for me to be part of Village Garden Club.
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:26] That's amazing. What year did you say you joined?
Bobbie Farrell [00:12:27] You know, I was going to look it up for you, but I think it was about '80... No, it was in the late '80s or early '90s...
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:36] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:12:36] That I joined. And I wish I could remember, um, I. I guess it was just before we took our sabbatical, another sabbatical. But anyway, I...
Caitlen Cameron [00:12:53] That's okay. So you said those two friends helped you get involved with the club...
Bobbie Farrell [00:13:01] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:02] What type of programs did you do? You remember any specific programs that [you did]?.
Bobbie Farrell [00:13:06] Wel,l I remember more the members who I was impressed with. Jean Eakin was still a member and Mim Greene and Kay Fuller, and they all had been involved in preventing a freeway from going through the Shaker parklands and they were organizing and going to Washington. I know in our archives we have a photograph of them in Washington. And Jean Aikin brought Stuart Udall, who was then Secretary of the Interior, to Cleveland. Or he was in Cleveland. She brought him and marched him through Shaker Lakes and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:13:49] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:13:50] Impressed on him the beauty of the spot. And so the programs were always interesting. They were about what to plant when, how to attract pollinators, visits to the Land Conservancy to learn how that functions in preserving land. And, lately, environmental programs, solar energy... We had... Every October was sort of a program on the environment and how to be mindful of taking care of the environment.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:34] Have you ever directed any of the meetings or anything like?
Bobbie Farrell [00:14:38] Well, I served as president for two years...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:41] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:14:41] And I am now program chair.
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:44] What?!
Bobbie Farrell [00:14:44] So I've just, our committee has just set the programs for next year. And we are we are going to have our first program is going to be a horticultural tour of a member's garden. She has a...
Caitlen Cameron [00:14:59] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:14:59] Huge garden and Cynthia Druckenbrod, who is a local horticulturalist, is going to lead a tour and then will be able to ask her questions about our own gardens. And the second meeting is going to be with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District about what they're going to be doing to redirect...
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:23] Oh, yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:15:25] Doan Brook and what's the future of Horseshoe Lake.
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:31] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:15:32] And then we're having a flower arranging meeting in November with our dear member, Helen Schreiber, who is brilliant at arranging flowers. And we're also going to have a talk by Cynthia Druckenbrod on native plants and pollinators. We're very interested...
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:51] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:15:51] In native plants now and we maintain the Grove across from...
Caitlen Cameron [00:15:54] Yes.
Bobbie Farrell [00:15:54] The historic, Shaker Historical Society and we're very interested now in planting more native trees.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:02] Okay. So moving away from cherry trees...
Bobbie Farrell [00:16:05] Yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:05] And things like that and moving more into native, can you tell me more on why you guys want to do that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:16:11] Well, the original cherry trees that were planted were not totally suitable for this climate...
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:18] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:16:19] And did not survive as long as native trees would. And and now we're really interested in protecting native habitat, native bugs and bees and insects and that are attracted to native trees and are nurtured by native trees and more so than imports.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:42] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:16:42] So we're all we're all beginning to focus more on adding native plants to our gardens.
Caitlen Cameron [00:16:49] I know the save-the-bee programs are huge right now because they're so essential to the ecosystem. And it's terrible that, like, I mean, so much land gets destroyed all the time for condos and...
Bobbie Farrell [00:17:00] Exactly.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:02] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:17:02] Exactly. Well, one of our new members has a beehive in her garden. Her partner has established a hive of bees. And I for the first time put out a mason bee house. And...
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:15] Really, what is that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:17:16] Well, Mason, bees are individual bees—they don't function as a community—but they're very early bees so they pollinate early crops, early flowering crops, and they again exist as individuals. But they go into... They're like very little narrow bamboo tubes...
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:40] Oh, okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:17:41] And they go inside and they lay their egg and they seal it up and they go off and die.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:48] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:17:49] And then next spring, the larva will come out of the little tubes [crosstalk] and will have new mason bees. So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:17:57] Wow. Do you have any in there right now?
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:00] I do.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:01] That's cool!
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:01] I do. Yeah. Yeah. Some of the tubes are plugged up, and we did see the bees going in and out of the tubes earlier in the year. We put it up in about March...
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:11] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:12] And they started coming shortly after.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:14] That's amazing. You're growing bees. [laughs]
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:17] I know, it was so much fun without having to...
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:21] Wear the bee suit and get on.
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:23] Exactly. Exactly. Oh. No honey, but still the pleasure [crosstalk] of keeping the bees alive.
Caitlen Cameron [00:18:32] So, okay, so I kind of want to go back. You said you were President for a little bit. Can you tell me about that time and the things that you did in that position?
Bobbie Farrell [00:18:42] Yes, well, it was, it was a lovely time. As I say, we still had very... Well, we've always had very impressive women who just know a lot about gardening and are very involved in community projects. And when I was president, I just had a wonderful time. Everyone was so supportive and so helpful. And members, as I said, were involved in conservation efforts even at that time in the Doan Brook Conservancy. And we had one report that I just loved. Kay Fuller, every meeting, would talk to us about what we could do to not harm the environment...
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:32] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:19:32] And she would always be talking about recycling, reusing, not wasting anything. And it was something that I always looked forward to...
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:43] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:19:43] Because she was a wonderful character, and she had a twin sister who was also in the club...
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:48] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:19:48] Who is much more quiet. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:51] Yeah, one always gets the like the outgoing, and one's the quiet one, right?
Bobbie Farrell [00:19:55] [Laughs] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:19:59] So what years were you president?
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:00] Oh, I was afraid you were going to ask...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:02] Oh. I'm sorry.
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:02] If you can take a minute, I can tell you exactly.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:05] Okay. Alright. Go ahead.
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:09] Oh, I was president from 2001 to 2003...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:13] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:14] And it was just wonderful. Everyone, as I say, was very involved in the club, very kind to other members, and we all just so enjoyed each other's company. We had... The meetings are preceded by lunch...
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:35] Mhm.
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:36] A catered lunch, and we met in members' homes at that time. We weren't such a large group, and many of our members meetings were in members' homes. And so it was just a very special time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:20:50] So as a president during 2001, you said, that was during like September 11. Did that have any effect on anything?
Bobbie Farrell [00:20:59] You know, I think people were aware and were... But I don't remember it having an effect on our group. Yeah, no, I don't.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:19] I just know that was a big time during our country. Like, it was like everybody trying to get together and being like a unity type of thing. so that's why I didn't know if it had an impact.
Bobbie Farrell [00:21:29] Well, it's true in that we did. I think the group is characterized by how we cohere as and enjoy sharing our knowledge and enjoy being with each other and respect each other's talents and skills. So it's just a very special group and thank you. Yeah. Yeah. And I joined in 1994, so it was the early '90s.
Caitlen Cameron [00:21:58] Okay. Wow, so I'm there for quite a while and that's, that's a great impact.
Bobbie Farrell [00:22:06] Yeah. It's, it's been wonderful.
Caitlen Cameron [00:22:10] So I guess. Okay, so I kind of have another question about the club and its impact on the community. So you say you do like programs with the members and for teaching and things like that, but how does the garden club impact on the Shaker community itself?
Bobbie Farrell [00:22:32] Well, I think our biggest impact is our Grove of flowering trees on South Park across from the Shaker Historical Museum. And we have been planting trees there since the 1930s. The club was founded in 1930. Oh, let me see, 1930. And shortly after, we started planting trees, actually on both sides, the Cleveland Heights side and the Shaker side of Horseshoe Lake, and, but it in the '50s we started planting trees in the memory of deceased members. So whenever a member passed away, on our spring, our May meeting, which we call the Cherry Tree Meeting, we'd dedicate it to planting a tree in the Grove for a deceased member or members. And that has been going since the 1950s.
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:37] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:23:38] And I just think it's a wonderful tradition for gardeners and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:23:43] What is that meaning, like the cherry tree meaning, because it has to have some type of impact, right, like on you as a member?
Bobbie Farrell [00:23:50] It does. It does. It's a very special meeting. We usually have it in the Grove. Actually, when we were a smaller group and there was more space, we met at the Shaker Historical Museum and then we would just walk across the street and meet at the Grove and dedicate a tree to a member if we had a deceased member that year. And it was a way of celebrating what we had done to maintain the Grove, and to enjoy it in bloom. It's usually very early in May and the trees would be blooming at that time.
Caitlen Cameron [00:24:30] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:24:30] They're blooming earlier these days. But it would be a time when we would, yes, recognize our members and memorialize our members and enjoy being in the Grove that we've maintained. And now we do go over and we, as we age, have had to hire more assistance. And we've always had an arborist who would, or a tree service that would do the trimming and the mulching and the fertilizing and feeding, but members also would go over and weed around the trees and and take care of the trees. So it's really central to our club, this community project of establishing this Grove around Shaker Lake. And when we're working over there, a lot of people come up and say, oh, you know, we love this Grove and we now have a bench installed...
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:29] Yes.
Bobbie Farrell [00:25:30] So people can actually pause and sit and enjoy the Grove. And so we get many compliments from people who use the... Who stroll through the Grove. And...
Caitlen Cameron [00:25:43] It is beautiful. I've been there and I was... I told Allison, I said, I would like to sit here because it's so beautiful and peaceful. So it's definitely a wonderful, great work that you guys have done over the years. And you can definitely tell there's a lot of love in the group for sure. Is there any... So, are there any members that have passed that you, say, planted cherry trees for that were memorable to you that you'd like to mention?
Bobbie Farrell [00:26:11] Well, yes, I thought about this and and there were, especially those who were sitting on, or who were members of the board when I was president. And one of them especially, well two of them, one who has passed who was absolutely the heart and soul of the Cherry Tree Grove when I was president and on the board and has just died last year was Mickey Horner. Mickey Horner was responsible for the Cherry Tree Grove for many years. She was also historian...
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:03] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:27:05] And kept wonderful records of took photographs and kept programs. And every annual meeting she would bring out the scrapbooks of all of the photographs, news clippings, all of the news from Village Garden Club for that, for the year. So I really miss Mickey Horner a great deal. And she was also a member of the board of the Shaker Historical Society...
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:33] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:27:34] For a long time. Yes. In fact, she left money to the historical society.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:41] That's great.
Bobbie Farrell [00:27:41] And so she was a very special member for me.
Caitlen Cameron [00:27:46] Okay. Well, that's... You said there was also another person?
Bobbie Farrell [00:27:48] Oh, well, Mim Greene, who I also enjoyed very much because she had been part of this team that really worked very hard to prevent the freeway from going through the Shaker parklands. And she was very, very lively and had a wonderful sense of humor. It's, well, and Kay Fuller, I miss, too, who gave the horticultural reports. She had a night-blooming cereus and she would always invite members over to have a glass of wine and see her night-blooming cereus.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:20] And what does that look like?
Bobbie Farrell [00:28:23] Well, we have a... Sally Cantor has a night-blooming cereus and also has said that she will invite interested members to see it bloom. And she showed us photos of it blooming. So it's white and very sort of wispy flowers. But, anyway, I'm excited. She says it's going to be blooming in the next couple of weeks, so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:49] That's great!
Bobbie Farrell [00:28:50] She'll keep us posted
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:53] You'll have to take plenty of photos.
Bobbie Farrell [00:28:55] [Laughs] Right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:28:55] So did they tell you any stories about the Clark freeway fight or anything like that you remember?
Bobbie Farrell [00:29:02] Well, yes, they did. They would talk about their visit to Washington and their campaigns, even in Cleveland, to get people to sign petitions and to talk to legislators. And I just think it was their very determined nature that this was something that they firmly believed in. And they marshaled their resources to support what they believed in and successfully. So I really admire them for that.
Caitlen Cameron [00:29:43] It is incredible they were able to accomplish it. And, you know, nowadays, if somebody sees condo being that next door, you can't really fight that or do anything about it, but back then, like, I mean, the amount of effort and passion they had for the gardens was incredible.
Bobbie Farrell [00:30:00] Yep, yep, and they, yes, I mean, I remember when they applied to the Department of the Interior to have it protected, or to have it actually a park as the Shaker Lakes Nature Center is, they were first told, well, it's not a natural... They're not natural lakes. They're dammed. They're manmade. And so they went to a great deal of effort to convince the Department of Interior that it should be designated as a park. And I think the Nature Center was built at that time, and that's also a wonderful asset.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:42] Do you ever go there?
Bobbie Farrell [00:30:44] Oh, yes. Yes. And my grandchildren go to summer camp there.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:48] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:30:48] And our oldest grandson was a counselor there before Covid, and our granddaughter just finished a week of camp at the Nature Center.
Caitlen Cameron [00:30:58] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:30:59] So, yeah, it's a lovely, lovely place.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:02] So, I never even asked but how many kids do you have?
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:06] Four.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:07] Four?
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:07] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:07] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:08] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:08] And how many grandkids?
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:09] Four.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:10] Four and four.
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:11] Right. [laughs] So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:31:14] How old are they?
Bobbie Farrell [00:31:14] Well, fortunately our four grandchildren are close to us. Well, our oldest grandchildren are fifteen and twelve, soon to be thirteen, and they just live about a mile away in Shaker Heights. Our other grandchildren are nine and seven and they live in Valley City, which I didn't know about until they moved there. But it's west, it's in a corner of Medina County close to Lorain County. It's west of Strongsville. And they moved there because they have two horses and five dogs and they needed a barn and land and so... [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:04] Actually, I think it's close to the frog jumping capital of the world.
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:06] Could be. Well, for the first time we are going to go to the Leaping Frog contest...
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:14] Yes!
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:14] In Valley City.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:15] That's what it is, yeah!
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:16] Yes, that's right. That... Our grandson participated last year and won in his category...
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:23] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:24] And so we're going to we're going to go, but we're... We didn't make it, but we're going this summer for sure.
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:30] Congratulations to him! I hope he wins again.
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:34] [Laughs] Thank you!
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:34] I don't even know. I would love to watch them, whatever they do, do they just encourage the frogs to jump?
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:40] I know, I don't know how. Our son-in-law was saying you can't touch the frog, but you can make a noise and, you know... [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:47] That's interesting.
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:49] Watch it leap. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:32:53] So do you have, have any of your children or grandchildren, are they interested in gardening too?
Bobbie Farrell [00:32:59] Well, I... They are. My daughter, the mother of the fifteen- and twelve-year-old, was never interested in gardening when I was gardening and she was not... And now she has a fabulous garden.
Caitlen Cameron [00:33:15] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:33:15] And so I'm so proud of her and I'm delighted. And the two children are also helpful. Eric, the fifteen-year-old, is going to edge and put down mulch for me. And as I said, I did lavender once with the twelve-year-old. And she's also now taking, exposing the silver seed pod of the money plants that I'm going to use in decorating a Village Garden Club tree for Glow. For the past, I don't know how many years, Village Garden Club has decorated a tree at CBG...
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:00] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:34:01] For their Glow festival over winter holidays from... We set up right after Thanksgiving and we take down right after the 1st of January.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:12] Okay. CBG is?
Bobbie Farrell [00:34:15] Cleveland Botanical Garden. Yeah, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:18] I just wanted to make sure.
Bobbie Farrell [00:34:19] Yeah, right, right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:20] So they've been involved with the Cleveland Botanical Garden for a long time, right? So how many of those activities have you been involved... because I mean you said you did things with the Western Reserve too so that's why?
Bobbie Farrell [00:34:33] Well with CBG, Cleveland Botanical Garden, I've been involved in planting containers for the Hershey Children's Garden through Village Garden Club. But mostly I've been involved with planning and decorating trees for the Glow festival in the winter.
Caitlen Cameron [00:34:53] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:34:53] And we have... We're... Last, well, one year we did school days and we had pictures of our—I think this is one Barb Shockey was president—we had pictures, school pictures, of all of our members that we...
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:08] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:35:08] Framed and hung on the tree with little school pads and scissors and things. And one day we did... Oh, once we did... We had to do something to do with gardens. So we had a wonderful tree with Peter Rabbit and so we had stuffed Peter Rabbits and stuffed vegetables...
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:31] How cute!
Bobbie Farrell [00:35:32] And wheelbarrows and watering cans and things like that. And my first tree was when I had recently left Western Reserve Herb Society and I was fascinated by tussy mussies, little bouquets of dried flowers.
Caitlen Cameron [00:35:47] Oh yes.
Bobbie Farrell [00:35:48] So we decorated our whole tree with tussy mussies and it was really lovely. A friend, a member, Dozie Herbruck, dries flowers in her extensive basement and from her extensive garden. So we had lots of material. So it was wonderful.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:04] So how do you make those? Can you give me like a...
Bobbie Farrell [00:36:06] Yes, well, you just take the dried material and you see what looks good in the center and you fill out the outer edge and you, you know, just look at the contrast of colors and leaf shapes and forms, and then you bind it and put it in a little paper doily or gold doily, and we just hung it from the trees, so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:32] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:36:32] We had all sorts of wonderful flowers, dried flowers from Dozie's garden, including the silver money plant seeds and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:41] Oh. Is it hard to dry flowers?
Bobbie Farrell [00:36:44] Well, the best way is to bundle them and hang them...
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:50] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:36:51] And put them in a dark, cool place, ventilated.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:55] So not the sun?
Bobbie Farrell [00:36:57] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:36:57] I've heard a lot of people say you put 'em in a window and then... But...
Bobbie Farrell [00:37:00] Yeah... No, I think you don't want them to get bleached. You want them...
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:04] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:37:04] To dry. We used to dry herbs on screens, on metal screens, but, no, I think you want them in a dark...
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:13] Dark place?
Bobbie Farrell [00:37:14] Dark place.
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:15] Now speaking about herbs, I remember you said you always loved growing them, right? So have you ever made anything with them, like dried or like smoked or anything like that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:37:26] Oh, well, I've made wreaths from dried herbs. Last year I dried my annual anise and I'm sorry, annual... it's going to come to me but it's a... Anyway. You dry it and it's very fragrant, and I don't know why the name is escaping me... And then I dried a lot of herbs and I put them on the wreath...
Caitlen Cameron [00:37:57] Oh, really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:37:57] And and made a dried herb...
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:02] Herb wreath?
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:03] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:03] That's cool.
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:04] Yep, yep, yep.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:05] A lot more better than buying one at Pat Catan's or something.
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:08] [Laughs] Right!
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:08] So that's okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:10] No, it was fun, it was fun. And I've done that for off and on for many years, so... But I was inspired last year for some reason...
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:18] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:18] To do it. Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:19] Oh, so last year I know was incredibly difficult for everybody.
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:25] [Sighs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:25] How did that impact you?
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:26] Well it was wonderful that we could continue to have our meetings via Zoom. And one member of our board, Pat Chokel, hosted all of our meetings on Zoom and she would have... I found speakers. I was program chair then too and I found speakers through the Cuyahoga County Master Gardeners Speaker Bureau...
Caitlen Cameron [00:38:51] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:38:51] And the Master Gardeners have trained their speakers to give presentations on Zoom. So most of our programs were through the Cuyahoga County Master Gardeners. And thanks to Pat Chokel, who would have a test Zoom session with them first to make sure that they could share their screen and we could see the slides and... But, so it was wonderful. It wasn't the same as meeting in person...
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:19] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:39:19] But at least we could continue in that way.
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:22] Did you ever... How did you guys maintain the Grove during Covid? Did you go there separately or did you... How did you handle it?
Bobbie Farrell [00:39:31] Yes, separately, separately, and masked, outdoors with masks. So we did, we did go and... Yeah when it... Yeah, we have an adopt-a-tree program and members adopt a tree or two and make sure the area around the tree is weeded and so we sort of go on our own to do that...
Caitlen Cameron [00:39:58] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:39:59] And I did get my granddaughter to help me...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:02] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:02] Weed.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:04] That's good.
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:04] So, but yeah, we continued, I mean, with masks and social distancing and outside. Some people were more comfortable than others, but...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:15] Mhm. So you said you had your granddaughter help you. Is there a lot of... Are you allowed to have other people help with a lot of things in the garden, or is it mostly just men?
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:25] Well, it has been mostly just members. But this year, the chair of the Cherry Tree Committee has invited the Montessori kids...
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:37] Oh!
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:38] Some of the Montessori students, to come and help maintain the... adopt trees in the Grove. So they've been coming over and helping in the Grove. So that was nice to involve them.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:53] Yeah.
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:54] So, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:40:55] That's great. Montessori's a great academy. My siblings have went there in the past.
Bobbie Farrell [00:40:59] Yeah, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:00] That's great. Well. So, okay, there's help with that type stuff, the adopt-a-tree program. Are there any other programs that like, say, the community can get involved with?
Bobbie Farrell [00:41:14] Not at this point other than our Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:18] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:41:18] And we looked... We took a serious look at our budget and what we could afford to do. We talked about expansion within the community. But at this point we want to focus on maintaining what we do have. It's expensive to plant trees.
Caitlen Cameron [00:41:38] Mhm.
Bobbie Farrell [00:41:38] It's expensive to feed them, trim them, and maintain them. So we just feel that our finances at this point don't allow us to expand beyond that. We do what we can and, as an affiliate of the Cleveland Botanical Garden, by participating in their programs such as Glow and the Hershey Gardens. But that's our main civic project.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:11] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:12] Our flowering Grove.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:13] So how much does like the average tree cost to plant?
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:18] That's a good question. And you would have to ask Pat Agatisa. Three fifty, three hundred and fifty dollars...
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:24] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:25] I think. Yes, I think that's right.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:28] Okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:28] But...
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:31] Could be different.
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:31] Barb Shockey will be able to tell you exactly.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:34] Yeah. I'm sure.
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:34] Yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:35] So if you guys are implementing more natural or local native trees, is that, do you think that will bring your cost down?
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:43] I don't know if it'll bring our cost down, but it will we will feel better about nurturing native bees and insects. And so. Yeah, yeah.
Caitlen Cameron [00:42:54] That's true.
Bobbie Farrell [00:42:54] I'm not... I'm not sure. And who knows? I don't think it will impact the cost. I think they still have to be planted and nurtured and...
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:05] And nurtured and...
Bobbie Farrell [00:43:08] Yeah. [laughs] Right!
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:08] You guys take very good care of your trees, so, it's definitely evident and...
Bobbie Farrell [00:43:11] We...
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:12] You can definitely see it.
Bobbie Farrell [00:43:13] Thank you. Yeah. We are very attached to our trees. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:43:19] So, another thing I wanted to ask was like the future, I guess, what would you say to anybody wanting to join a garden club or start their own or things of that such? Any advice?
Bobbie Farrell [00:43:36] Oh, well, we would encourage anyone who would like to join and participate in our programs. They'll learn a lot about gardening, a lot about the environment, especially in this region. And they will acquire a wonderful group of friends who will share everything that they know and share their plants. It's wonderful when somebody has, is, you know, dividing perennials, they will share them with other members. And some of my favorite plants are from gardens of other members...
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:15] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:44:15] Who have shared their plants with us. Yeah, Pat Chokel gives us dalia tubers. Dozie Herbruck gives up lots of wonderful plants. Her garden is just amazing. She calls all of her plants thugs because they spread and we're delighted to receive her... The things that she has...
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:38] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:44:40] Yeah, pulling out of her garden. They're stars in my garden, so I'm delighted. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:44:44] Yeah. Of course.
Bobbie Farrell [00:44:46] And yeah. And please, yes, think of starting your own garden club. It's... I think some garden clubs have been very small because women now work and they aren't free during the day and maybe you want to meet on weekends or in the evening. That might be a draw for someone starting a new garden club to attract younger members. But....
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:14] That's great. Is there something that the government does that, say, outsiders might not know?
Bobbie Farrell [00:45:21] That?
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:21] That like they might not... The information that... Because we know that they work with the Grove, that you guys do a lot of work in the Shaker area, but is there something that, say, somebody that wants to join the...
Bobbie Farrell [00:45:35] Would like to know, would like to know about. Well, our program, let me see, when is it going to be? One of our programs is going to be given by the chair of environmental sustainability for the City of Shaker Heights.
Caitlen Cameron [00:45:56] Wow.
Bobbie Farrell [00:45:56] And he has... He's involved in advising on this topic all around the area and is looking at making Shaker Heights a LEED city, an L-E-E-D city, which means an environmentally... [crosstalk] Yeah. And so they could learn about that if they came to our meeting. And we're also having Jeff Jowett from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District to talk about the future of Doan Brook and Horseshoe Lake. Oh, and if you want to make a fabulous arrangement, come to our November meeting with Helen Schreiber, who is just so creative and makes it seem not at all intimidating...
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:43] Really?
Bobbie Farrell [00:46:45] But enjoyable.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:46] Any advice for a first-time arrangement, like the types?
Bobbie Farrell [00:46:49] Well, usually we have... we meet or we have these arrangement classes in November so people can have arrangements for the holidays.
Caitlen Cameron [00:46:59] Mhm.
Bobbie Farrell [00:47:00] And in the past, we've also had Cathy Miller do these. But they're.... I just go and participate and then come home and try out my own ideas depending on what materials you have. But they're very encouraging. They just say, you know, just enjoy it, don't feel intimidated. Just, you know, use... Although they will provide examples. But I'm afraid I can't... I can't... Every arrangement that I've done with the Garden Club has been delightful and individual. We also have a member, Lorna Mierke, who is very involved with the Ikabana Society at Cleveland Botanical Garden, and we had a class in Ikebana arranging, which is very different from my usual arranging, which is just very sort of go out in the garden, pick what looks nice, put it in my hand, kind of look at it [crosstalk] and put it in a vase. [laughs]
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:09] That's okay. That's what I do too, but mine is probably worse than that. I'm sure yours are beautiful.
Bobbie Farrell [00:48:14] [Grandfather clock chimes] Well, that was advice from Helen Schreiber, so I took it to heart because... But she has a fabulous garden to pick in too, but...
Caitlen Cameron [00:48:30] Well, that's great. Okay, so, how do you join the Village Garden Club? Do you just apply or is it you have to have a recommendation?
Bobbie Farrell [00:48:39] At this point, yes, you have to have a recommendation and a seconding letter. And so but if you know a member of Village Garden Club or would like to know a member of Village Garden Club, you know, contact us and Dozie Herbruck is our president now and our membership chair is, I can't remember, but we have a membership chair. [laughs].
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:04] That's okay.
Bobbie Farrell [00:49:07] It may be Suzanne Stratton-Crooke, but anyway, yes, so and get to know us.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:16] Yeah. Do you do you guys like young members coming in?
Bobbie Farrell [00:49:19] We do have new members coming in, and we welcome new members. We're excited to have new members and we've had three new members. We have another new member coming on. So it's been a wonderful year for new members. So we're delighted, but we're always looking for more new members, so...
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:37] Okay. So we're reaching the end of the first interview. And is there anything else you'd like to add? Any events or things or memories that you didn't get to cover?
Bobbie Farrell [00:49:52] Oh, no, thank you. I feel like I've said a lot. [laughs] So.
Caitlen Cameron [00:49:58] Well again, this is Caitlen Cameron, and thank you for your time. And, oh, also, are you okay with me recording this and publishing this at the Cleveland State oral histories and everything like that?
Bobbie Farrell [00:50:15] Yes, I am, yes.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:19] Alright. Well, thank you for your time and...
Bobbie Farrell [00:50:21] You're welcome! I'm delighted.
Caitlen Cameron [00:50:24] Alright.
Shaker Heights Historical Society
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"Bobbie Farrell interview, 30 June 2021" (2021). Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection. Interview 918001.