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Brief History Of The Petunia Scouts

Camp Fire
(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Five years ago, I called a few friends with daughters the same age as my youngest and began to try to form a Girl Scout troop.

It wasn’t so easy. There is much paperwork, many rules and serious regulations to form a Girl Scout troop these days. I understand the reasoning, but the truth is that my group of capable friends and I just never could meet all the stipulations to become official.

So we took another route. We set out to become Daisy Scouts, but we ended up taking a horticultural diversion and became Petunia Scouts.

We planned our meetings with great activities and started meeting every other week. Five years later, the Petunias are going strong.

I suggested the name Petunia Scouts in honor of my grandmother. For some reason when the movie Steel Magnolias came out, she would always say, “They may be steel magnolias, but we’re steel petunias.”

This was coming from a woman who took a painting class in 1977 and learned to paint a magnolia. She painted that same magnolia on every available surface for the next 20 years. She loved and lauded magnolias. But for whatever reason, she didn’t want to be a steel one. Metaphorically, I’m not certain how she saw the difference between the steel versions of magnolias and petunias, but I figured, if petunias worked in her mind as an appropriate replacement for magnolias, they were suitable for our purposes, too.

Over the years, our Petunias have gone camping, learned to sew, to knit, picked Satsumas, cooked pizza and spaghetti, set a table, sang at a nursing home, learned to Cajun dance and so much more. The Petunia moms have become some of my dearest friends and even though our girls are growing and getting busier ever year, the Petunias persist.

I learned with my older daughter that many of the groups they had been a part of for years disintegrated at about age 10. I’m hoping that won’t happen with our Petunias. I am so grateful for the things we learn together and hope it continues for years to come.


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