By Florence C. Flynn, Durham Garden Club Historian
Eighty years ago, on March 23, 1933, twelve ladies interested in gardening gathered at the Durham Library with Mrs. Stanley Pardee of the Meriden Garden Club to organize a similar club in Durham. They were Mary Asman, Gertrude Atwell, Blanche Coe, Josephine H. Francis, Daisy Hall, Annie Page, Gertrude Page, Hattie Page, May Roberts, Mary Stone, Alice Strong, and Carrie Wilcox.
It was fitting to return to our roots and have a celebratory meeting at the library. The meeting began with a History of Durham presented by Sarah Atwell. Laura Frances presented The Durham Garden Club with a Proclamation from the Town of Durham thanking the dedicated members for their community service. Ronnie Schoelzel, president of The Federated Garden Clubs of CT spoke about all the wonderful projects that the state and national clubs have been involved with and thanked the members for their support by participating. Later, members enjoyed a lovely luncheon at Time Out Taverne.
The mission of The Durham Garden Club is “To promote interest and activity in all forms of gardening, to encourage education that will lead to keener appreciation of the advantages of garden development, and when possible to use this knowledge for the betterment of our homes and our community.”
The first club project focused on the removal and elimination of the Mill Bridge dump. Since that time, the club’s main focus has been Civic Beautification.
The Durham Garden Club has maintained a high level of activity and visibility throughout the years. Some of the most recent award winning projects include The Triangle landscaping at the junction of Routes 79 & 17, Project 2000, The Greening of Main Street (which involved replacing diseased trees along Main Street), The Hillside Project, Blue Star Marker and Gardens at the Town Hall, Daffodil Days projects, and their efforts to eliminate visual pollution by participating in Adopt-A-Road and eliminating unsightly billboards. Their awards are on display this anniversary month at the Durham Public Library along with monthly floral and horticultural exhibits. Their brochures are available at the circulation desk.
The floral decorations displayed at Strong School Step-Up Day, District 13 Graduation and Durham's Memorial Day parade are also provided by The Durham Club. The Artistic Design Committee participates in various floral competitions throughout the year including Festival of Trees and Fine Art and Flowers at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford.
The Durham Garden Club raises revenue for all its projects from various events including Standard Flower Shows, Silver Teas, plant sales, as well as annual wreath sales. It gives it back to the community by providing quality programs involving lectures, school programs, and workshops about floral design, landscaping, horticulture, birding, and conservation. It donates books and media to the Durham Public Library and has been involved with their landscaping as well. A generous scholarship is also given to a local graduating high school senior who can further the aims and interest of The Durham Garden Club and The Federated Garden Clubs of CT.
The Durham Garden Club promotes and encourages “green gardening” whenever possible by reusing, recycling, and using earth friendly products.
The Durham Garden Club is a member of National Garden Clubs, Inc., The Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut, Inc., and The New England Region of National Garden Clubs, Inc. The club meets on the second Thursday of every month except for July and August. The public is always welcome to attend meetings. This is a great time to join us. Please call Flo Flynn 860-349-0504 if interested.