For the first time in its 61-year history, the Boca Raton Garden Club was named club of the year for the state and the Deep South Region of National Garden Clubs, which includes six states.

Club president Carol Brown brought home several wins from back-to-back conventions last month in St. Petersburg, the Deep South and Florida Federation of Garden Clubs. She also won the leadership award for the state.

Brown announced the wins in the May newsletter on the club's website, http://www.bocaratongardenclub.org. The Deep South Region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. There are 198 garden clubs with 13,500 members in Florida, according to the federation's website.

"I attribute this to increased publicity, so we were able to increase our membership and have younger members who instantly became involved," Brown said. "To compete for the club award, we had to put together a book of evidence 12 pages long, and you're judged on membership increase, communications, service to the community, club projects and fundraisers."

Membership is close to 160. The club had six fundraisers, including the recent Kentucky Derby party at Elks Lodge 2166 and a Mardi Gras party with a live jazz band at its clubhouse and garden. Among the club's projects were "Our Beautiful Cities, A Standard Flower Show," a holiday sale, two plant sales and a floral design study course, and it teaches a gardening class at the Louis and Anne Green Memory & Wellness Center at Florida Atlantic University.

"We also won awards for our garden therapy geriatric program and for the public program we did for our 60th anniversary as a Town Hall Talk for the Boca Raton Historical Society & Museum," she said. "We also had a display of artifacts there."

Marion Tieniber, the club's horticulture chairwoman, was behind Brown's leadership award nomination.

"She has brought this club up in membership at least 20 percent because of her welcoming attitude and creative activities. There's something for everyone in this club," she said.

Gloria Blake, Deep South Region director and a former Florida Federation of Garden Clubs president, was president and is still a member of the Boca club, although she now lives in Cocoa.

"I think it really is because of Carol and her attitude, and she has generated the interest to these members," she said. "She has come up with so many innovative projects, and she takes it into the community, and that's what we are really for."