The Waikanae Beach Garden Group held their 25th anniversary meeting last week and used the occasion to honour Maggie Smith, presenting her with a life membership.

Unaware of the award she was about to be given, Maggie was charged with giving the 25th birthday speech at the celebrations and shared anecdotes about the group over the last 25 years from the very first meeting to now.

Held at the Waikanae Uniting Church the group was formed in 1993 with the first meeting held on June 28.

Looking back on the minutes, Maggie said the first meeting was "well attended, whatever that means.

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"At the first AGM in March 1994 the minutes said there were 70 people at the meeting," Maggie said, in slight disbelief.

"I don't know how they all fitted in — it must have been a standing meeting I think."

At their first meeting the guest speaker was Helen Guthrie, formally from Te Horo who shared her vast knowledge of roses.

Other memorable speakers were botanical artist Susan Worthington and NZ Gardener editor Lynda Hallinan who spoke more about alcohol and how to make apple cider than how to actually grow the plants were needed to make it!

After sharing about the last 25 years, group president Lorraine Wootton surprised Maggie by presenting her with a membership award.

"Maggie, it's with great pleasure that we ask that you would accept this award of life membership, in recognition of sincere appreciation of understanding, of loyalty, dedication, and friendship during 25 years to the group.

"Your vast knowledge of gardening has enlightened us all and I'm sure you will continue to enlighten us some more."

As one of the founding members it was fitting that Maggie spoke at the birthday celebrations, with everyone believing that the award was very well deserved.