Sunday, February 5, 2017

Member Spotlight: Designing Lady Pat Cashwell

 Pat Cashwell was the recipient the 2015 Maslon Award
of The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc.
By J. S. Corser
Editor, Durham Co. Master Gardener

Pat Cashwell is a Southern lady not afraid to get her hands dirty and get to work.

While concurrently working a successful 17-year nursing career, 14 years for the Duke University Medical Center, Pat has stood as an elegant and accomplished tour de force 50 years in North Carolina’s floral industry and accredited design and gardening organizations. Her impact first began with the florist industry, chiefly with late husband Harry F. Cashwell, Jr.’s business Cashwell Florist, Inc., in Durham; then she shared her design and business expertise with local Durham garden clubs and at the state level for The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. The highways of North Carolina have also reflected Pat's beautification impact, since she has been judging the NC Department of Transportation Roadside Development Wildflower Program for the last seven years. Her design presence and discerning eye is also an annual occurrence at the North Carolina State Fair flower show and exhibition as a nationally accredited flower show Master Judge.


Pat attributes her paternal grandmother inspiring her to begin growing and designing floral arrangements. Pat's family lived with her grandmother during WWII. After the war her grandmother built a country home in Shelby, NC and had the space to grow gladiola, iris, rosa and roses to make the floral arrangements for her church. Pat would spend weeks in the summer visiting her grandmother and later inherited her grandmother's horticulture and design library as well as the church vases.

"I'm not really a gardener; I don't have a green thumb. I'm more of a designer than a horticulturist," Pat said.

She reminisced that husband Harry did all of the actual gardening as his weekend passion from work. At the time Pat met Harry, he was the organist and choir director of his church and owner of his florist, Davis-Cashwell Florist, later Cashwell Florist. Pat helped run the business from 1963-1986.

Garden Clubs

Initially Pat did not work in her husband's florist, so she created her own design outlet. In 1962 she organized the Colony Park Garden Club in Durham’s eastside neighborhood Colony Park when it was a new subdivision. Pat served as club president and put together many high-profile flower shows receiving blue ribbons for her floral arrangements during the eight years she lived in Colony Park. After leaving the neighborhood in 1970, she put her floral expertise to work for the Heritage Garden Club in Durham and has served as the club’s president, vice-president, secretary, and as perpetual committee chair over the last 42 years. In 2005 Pat began the Heritage Junior Garden Club with fellow club member Margaret McCotter; the Junior Club met through 2015 (and is attempting to recruit new members since Pat and other club members' grandchildren have left Durham for college). With the Heritage Garden Club, Pat continues to work on the club's annual Poinsettia Project for Veterans at the Durham VA Chapel. As with her nursing career, Pat said she really likes to work with veterans, and beautification projects through garden clubs are a way of maintaining that relationship.

Page from Pat's scrapbook featuring 1960s newspaper clippings of the Colony Park Garden Club.
Pat is the fashion model wearing white.

Council & District

Pat has also served as a president, vice-president, secretary and committee chair for the Durham Council of Garden Clubs and as an officer and chair at the District 9 level for The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. Pat’s flower shows for the Council included “April in the City” which won the National Garden Clubs award #17-A in 1983. She edited the Council’s annual Yearbook/Membership Directory which also won state award #57 in 1984. (Aside from the Durham Council projects, Pat spearheaded a design project for Duke University’s British American Festival in 1984, when the committee needed floral arrangements for the “Strawberry Tea” event.) As ongoing Council Beautification Chair, she organized a civic improvement/beautification project for the Durham Rescue Mission in 1987 and more recently she was a chair for the 2014 Blue Star Memorial Marker Project with Durham VA Medical Center. On the District level, Pat has served as District 9 Director, Secretary and Treasurer as well as the Chairman of Nominations and Yearbooks.


At the state level for The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc., Pat was Chairman of the Organization Study Committee and the Garden Therapy Committee and a member of numerous other committees. She was appointed Editor of the North Carolina Gardener for two terms. Currently Pat is completing her 7th year as Chairman of the Roadside Development Committee which judges the annual DOT Wildflower Program. In 2015, Pat received the prestigious Maslin Award, a top individual award for years of service to The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc..

Flower Show Judge

Pat became a Nationally Accredited Flower Show Judge in four years by 1992 and became a Master Judge in 1994. Pat is a member of the North Carolina Judges Council and is a very active member of the Piedmont East Judges Club. She has been an active flower show Master Judge for the North Carolina State Fair floral exhibitions and Co-Chaired the 2016 GCNC Annual Meeting Flower Show, "Let the Music Play." Pat's own floral designs have won numerous blue ribbons and accolades. She also exhibited at the 2015 North Carolina Museum of Art "Art in Bloom" event in Raleigh.

Honored Life Member

 Lastly, through her 50 years of executive board contributions and tireless passion for beautification and design projects in Durham and around North Carolina, Pat has been honored with life memberships, including a Life Member of the South Atlantic Region and National Garden Clubs, Inc., and a Life Member of The Garden Club of North Carolina, Inc. 

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