The distant smoke of burning sugarcane trigger fond memories for Wellington’s Twig Morris. Born in San Francisco, Morris relocated to Hawaii as a child. “I find it kind of interesting that I ended up here,” she said. “I can see the sugarcane burning, and it makes me feel at home.”
Morris’ father accepted a physician’s job on a sugarcane plantation in Hawaii. Her father was a true country doctor, who also enjoyed fishing in his spare time, which was one of the primary reasons that the family made the move, landing on the island of Oahu. Morris loved her time there. She had many friends, and life on the island was serene and safe.
“What a wonderful place to grow up. It was like any other small-town, country setting. Everybody knew everybody,” she recalled. “We lived on a cul-de-sac, so we were always out on the street playing. We could walk to the movies at night, and our parents never worried. It was a kinder, gentler time.”
Morris didn’t take her paradise-like surroundings for granted, taking full advantage of the beaches and the mountains.
“The beach was right there. If you liked to hike, the mountains were there, and it was always green, and it was always warm and like here in Florida,” she said.
Though life on the island was wonderful, she eventually had the desire to get out and experience a world beyond the idyllic setting.
“You know, when you grow up on the island of Oahu, if you can possibly afford it, you want to get off of the rock and go to the mainland and see the world. So, I did,” Morris said.
She left paradise and headed to the Big Apple. Well, specifically Adelphi University on New York’s Long Island, where she studied dance. Morris had gained an interest in dance while in high school, and also under the tutelage of her mother, who had been a dancer.
Spending lots of time in nearby New York City, Morris took every opportunity to hop on the train to see a show or enjoy the city’s museums. Following her graduation, she landed a job in New York, and soon after met Kevin Morris at an engagement party. He was a friend of the groom-to-be, who also happened to be Twig’s roommate’s fiancé. A year and a half later, Twig and Kevin married. They will celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary in July.
Setting aside plans to become a dancer, Morris instead worked for an advertising agency, before becoming a stay-at-home mother to her two daughters, Chrissy and Katie. Once the girls were in school, Morris returned to the workforce, landing a job she loved with a Fortune 500 company that manufactured medical supplies and diagnostic equipment. Morris was a part of the public affairs department at Becton Dickinson for 11 years.
Following retirement, Twig and Kevin Morris moved to Wellington. Daughter Chrissy lived in the area and suggested they come down and take a look. The couple settled in Village Walk, where Morris serves on the architectural committee. In an interesting twist, Chrissy later moved to Hawaii. Apparently, the old saying “you can never go home again” isn’t true. Morris now visits Oahu fairly often.
“Every time we go back, it is always nice. My mother was very active in the community, and my dad was the doctor in the town,” she said. “Just about every kid born there, my dad delivered. My mom taught dance to half the community in the schools. When I go back, they go, ‘Oh, right, I knew your dad. I knew your mom.’ It was nice that they were being remembered that way. It’s a very special place with very special memories.”
It’s possible to fall in love with more than one locale. Morris has settled into the Wellington community quite well and feels at home here, too.
“We’ve met so many wonderful people in our community and, of course, through my involvement in the garden club,” she said. “All of my friends there are very special, and we’re all involved in similar pursuits, because we all love gardening.”
Morris has been involved with the Wellington Garden Club for more than a decade and is currently a committee chair. She first served as corresponding secretary, and then went on to serve as treasurer, first vice president and president in ensuing years.
Somehow it seems especially fitting that a dedicated gardener goes by the nickname Twig. Mary Tree is actually Morris’ given name. “Tree” is an old English surname that was passed down through her family.
“Twig is a nickname that I was given, actually before I was born. [My mother] said, ‘I know this baby is going to be a girl, and I am going to name her Mary Tree the Second, and we’re going to call her Twig,’” Morris explained.
Morris was introduced to the local garden club nearly by accident, during a visit to the Mounts Botanical Garden. The club was having a plant sale there, and Morris asked for more information.
The Wellington Garden Club is a nonprofit organization that dates back to 1981. Morris is a strong believer in the club’s mission to further the education of members and the public in fields of gardening, horticulture, botany, floral design, landscape design and environmental awareness.
Educating today’s youth on the importance of caring for the earth is a priority for Morris. The club sponsors garden clubs at schools and partners with the Village of Wellington on an annual tree planting.
“This year, the tree planting was in the Peaceful Waters Sanctuary in September,” Morris said. “We do a beach cleanup earlier in the fall, which also involves the youth. It is an eye-opener for the kids, and for the adults, too. You can see how much plastic is washed up on our beaches.”
While the Wellington Garden Club isn’t a social club, it is a great way to meet people, Morris said. “We want you to get involved, to help with the kids, to help with the fundraisers and various aspects of the club,” she said. “That’s why we invite folks to come to two meetings before they join.”
Morris is looking forward to the 2019 Garden Tour in April, a ticketed fundraising event presented by the Wellington Garden Club. The upcoming tour will feature the gardens at Deeridge Farms, which the club is touting as a once-in-a-lifetime tour of this impressive Wellington equestrian estate.
“There are numerous gardens on the property,” Morris said. “It’s very extensive. It’s acres and acres of a mobile-guided tour, because we will have golf carts that will take people from one garden to the next.”
Proceeds from the event are designated for the club’s outreach programs. Advance ticket sales are available. Learn more at www.wellingtongardenclub.org.
Morris is passionate about gardening, but she is also looking forward to new adventures with her husband.
“I’m looking forward to taking a few more cruises than we have done, doing more travel,” she said. “That was the original plan when we first retired, and we did do a couple of cruises, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. I also learned about a train trip across the Canadian Rockies that takes place sometime next year, and I thought that sounds interesting.”
In the interim, there’s plenty of gardening to be done.