100 Years of the Groton Garden Club
100 Years of the Groton Garden Club History Book.
How to Join
If you have already visited our club, and would like to join, please download and complete a Membership Form and return it by mail with your dues.
We meet on the first Tuesday of every month from October through June.
Groton Garden Club 100 Year History Overview
The year 2023 was a milestone year for the Groton Garden Club, as it celebrated its 100 year anniversary. From its founding on April 2, 1923, the Club has made a significant impact on the aesthetic of the town of Groton. Over the past 100 years the club has endeavored to fulfill its mission which is to encourage and promote interest in and development of all aspects of gardening. There were 22 founding members with the first officers being Mrs. William P. Wharton, Mrs. Charles Keyes, Mrs. Winthrop L. Sheedy. The annual dues were $2, and meetings were held monthly from March to October. Today the club has more than 80 women and men dedicated to beautifying municipal gardens and educating the community about gardening topics.
Bylaws were established in the 1920s and community service projects were developed.
Some initial projects of the Club included adding plantings to the Town Hall and Prescott School on Main Street. Members pruned the town bandstand shrubs and maintained the Railroad Depot plantings and lawn on Station Avenue.
The Club was also instrumental in founding the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts in 1927. This is the state organization of Garden Clubs. In addition, the Club contributed funds to the Arnold Arboretum, the Harvard Botanical Garden, and Groton’s Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture.
From 1926 through 1968 Club members regularly sent fruits, vegetables, and flowers from their gardens to the Benevolent Fruit and Flower Mission in Boston. These hampers, often overflowing with donations, were very much appreciated by the elderly, sick, and shut-ins who received them.
A junior gardeners program began and flower shows were organized in Boston and Groton. Member seed and plant exchanges were held, and dooryard plantings were encouraged. The 1930s saw the Club’s first plant sale and Christmas greens sale and they joined the New England Wildflower Society. A wildflower sanctuary was planted at the edge of the Dead River in the Town Forest.
This project brought together many volunteer groups including the Woman’s Club, Girls Scouts, and Boy Scouts. Mountain laurels and yellow lady’s slippers were planted, and the area was cleared of dead trees and a picnic spot developed. The Club planted 539 wildflower plants including columbine, bloodroot, and jack in the pulpit in the spring of 1933. In the fall, 1100 more plants were installed. Over the next three years more than 6,000 plants were added to this sanctuary. Unfortunately, many of these plants were damaged or destroyed by flooding during the Hurricane of 1938 and sadly, the project ended.
World War II affected the Club profoundly. Regular meetings were suspended from 1942-1945. Victory gardens were created, and flowers were sent to Lovell Hospital at Fort Devens in Ayer. Teas were held to benefit the Red Cross and seeds were sent to England. The Club was reconstituted in 1946 and members entered the Boston Flower Show and held local flower shows. Flower Show participation has historically been a central part of garden club activities and the Groton Garden Club was no exception. There were flower shows in Boston, Groton, and surrounding communities. From the 1930s through the 1950s many shows were in Groton.
Members would transform the Town Hall into a scene of beauty with charming woodlands, a waterfall and rippling brook winding its way through wildflowers and tall grass. There was a pergola covered garden, a cozy tea room, rock garden displays, and miniature gardens designed by children. A special flower show was held for the Groton Tercentenary Celebration in 1955. Also, during the 1950s and 1960s, many seasonally themed flower shows featuring a tearoom and plant sale were held at various churches in town. During this period the Club often entered the Boston Flower Show putting together themed displays, many of which earned awards.
During the 1960s many Elm trees along Main Street were lost to Dutch Elm disease. Club members worked with the town Tree Warden and a landscape architect to create a plan to replace the lost trees. Funds were raised for the cost of the replacement trees from house and garden tours and an appeal to local organizations and Main Street merchants. The detailed plan itself includes photographs of Main Street as well as the species of existing trees, and recommended planting location of new trees. The Garden Club arranged to have the original panels archivally framed, and they are now displayed on the second floor of the Groton Town Hall.
Through the years plant sales have been the Club’s largest fundraiser. The sales have been held annually since 1934 with plants dug or propagated from members’ gardens or started from seed, as they still are today. Multiple locations on Main Street were used including the Library, Town Hall, Miss Boutwell’s House (History Center), and the Old Brick Store. Funds raised from these sales are used to maintain the many municipal gardens in Groton and for member programs and education.
This article introduces you to the first 50 years of the Groton Garden Club. Learn about the next 50 years in a follow up article coming soon. Until then, if you would like to find out more about the history of the Club, visit the Groton Public Library. The Club published “Gardening for 100 Years 1923-2023” which is available for checkout. There is also a display case containing Club artifacts or you can visit our website at www.grotongardenclub.org.
As the Groton Garden Club celebrates its 100 year anniversary in 2023, we are looking back at the projects and activities taken on through the years. This article showcases the more recent work of the club. Today, there are more than 80 members dedicated to community service work, beautification of our town, and educating the public about gardening topics.
The club celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1973 with a house and garden tour. In 1976, to celebrate the nation's bicentennial, plantings were added to town commons, the post office, the town hall; and a float was part of the bicentennial parade. A major project during the 1970s was the landscaping of the new Nashoba Hospital and Mental Health Building in Ayer. Done in stages, the planting included trees, shrubs, perennials, and spring bulbs.
Garden Therapy Programs at the Hale nursing home were well received.
The Club continued to maintain municipal gardens and holding its annual plant sale, bulb sales and flower shows to raise funds.
New projects in the 80's included The Marion Nash Memorial Garden at the Nashoba Hospital in Ayer, landscaping at the Petapawag Canoe Launch, and Knops's Pond.
The club was also instrumental in the formation of the Friends of the Trees.
Members gather in December to make seasonal decorations for the Council on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program. To share their creativity, floral arrangements are provided to the Groton Public Library.
To brighten the lives of cancer patients, the Club supports the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, MA, through garden maintenance and winter container arrangements. The Club also presents an Annual Public Lecture bringing a speaker to our community to discuss current horticultural topics. Passes to various botanical gardens are sponsored by the Garden Club and are available to the public at the Groton Library.
Projects from the last 100 Years
The Garden Club maintains 10 municipal gardens in various areas throughout the town of Groton. There is a long and varied history of design, installation, and maintenance of these gardens. Here are some highlights.
Watering Troughs 1954
Prescott Common 1969
Hollis Street Traffic Island 1970s
Blue Star 2011
Hanson Family Memorial Gardens 2011
Four Corners Traffic Island 2014
Police and Center Fire Station 2015
Firemen’s Common 2016
Carol Wheeler Memorial Park 2019
Native Plant Garden 2022
The Club culminated its 100 year anniversary with the project 100 Native Plantings for 100 Years. The club was awarded a grant for this project. This whole club project brought an awareness of the importance of native plants to the community.
The Club’s annual Plant Sale held each May, is our only fundraiser, and allows us to continue our community service work. As we look to the future, we hope both our plantings and our members thrive and grow.
Our work is for the enjoyment of the entire community. Through it all, members continue to follow our mission of encouraging and promoting interest in, and the development of, all aspects of gardening.