by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Soul of Photography

In Good Company of Flowers & Friends

volunteer_corless2The last 18 years in Rancho Santa Fe have been filled with friends and flowers for Shirley Corless. After retiring from the San Francisco Bay area, Shirley and her husband Steve found their home in 92067, and she found her niche in the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club. She has been serving the club and community ever since.

Shirley guesses she has been gardening for about 70 years, having started as a child in England. Today, she considers herself a “good maintenance gardener.” “I pot and take care of products of my husband’s creativity,” she shared. “Roses are my special love, but we recently have cut down from 300 to about 50 – they are a lot of work.”

At the Rancho Santa Fe Garden Club, Shirley has served on the board for many years. Her roles have included horticulture chair and chairing the Garden Tour and Flower Show, among many others. Shirley explained, “A very special program for me is the annual wreath making event held each December. It is open to the public and each participant makes two wreaths, one for their home and one for the Senior Center to distribute to homebound seniors.”


Name: Shirley Corless
Community: Rancho Santa Fe
Profession: Retired. Formerly Director Volunteer Services/Community Relations
Family: Married. Three children, eight grandchildren, and two great grands
Hobbies: Gardening, cooking, music, reading, travel in Europe, and my friends
Favorite Spots in 92067: Walking the many trails, and the beautiful trees and flowers lining our streets


volunteer_corless3Contributing to the community is an important aspect of the RSF Garden Club’s work. Shirley explained three of the club’s programs that stand out to her, saying, “The Garden Club is very committed to their Scholarship Award Program, the upcoming Petals and Prose for Children at the Rancho Santa Fe Library, and ongoing participation in the Petals for Patriots program where a group of Garden Club members take flower arrangements to the Wounded Warrior barracks at Camp Pendleton twice a year.”

Shirley also enjoys engaging in the community in ways that incorporate her hobbies of reading and walking. She is a regular volunteer at the Book Cellar, a committed walker with the Relaxed Walking Group every Thursday, and a member of the Rancho Santa Fe Advisory Committee of Mainly Mozart, which hosts five concerts a year at the Garden Club.

A strong community is important to Shirley and Steve, who have been married for nearly 60 years. “When we moved to Rancho Santa Fe we knew no one,” she shared. At the time, the community had an active Newcomers Club. “It was a wonderful way of making new friends and acquaintances of all ages,” she reminisced. “I think our present community could benefit from a similar program.”