Stonington Garden Club
– Beautification – Conservation – Education –
HISTORY OF THE STONINGTON GARDEN CLUB
Although the origins of the Stonington Garden Club date back to the early 1900s, little information was recorded until July 6, 1926 when “Mrs. Frank L. Henderson won 1st prize in a rose contest at the Stonington Garden Club”, the account of which is published in The Stonington Chronology 1649-1976.
The Stonington Garden Club was a charter member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Connecticut in 1929, however, according to Stonington Historical Footnotes (August 1965 article), it disbanded during World War II, and was reorganized in 1958 with 30 members. Its purpose at that time was to stimulate interest in gardening, to encourage civic planting and to promote measures for the protection of wild flowers, native plants, birds and wildlife.
In 1996, with the active membership limited to 48 people, and an unlimited number of Friends, the membership voted on a change in the Club’s objectives, underlying the increasing awareness of the environment and the Garden Club’s role in preserving it. The objective of the Stonington Garden Club now reads, “to educate and encourage interest in the environment, conservation, community projects and to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening.”
The Stonington Garden Club has historically aided in the beautification of its Town and Borough. Amongst it’s projects; redesigning the grounds of the historic Lighthouse, the Borough Square surrounding the Library, the wetlands adjacent to the Community Center, and purchasing and planting trees along North Main Street to replace hurricane-topples ones.
Yearly activities include: the Christmas Workshop, making decorations for local nursing homes and Meals on Wheels’ recipients, and wreaths for the Library, the Community Center, and the historic Nathaniel Palmer House; Summer floral arrangements weekly for the Library and the Lighthouse Museum; Spring and Fall, “cleanup” at the Lighthouse; the Annual Plant Sale held in May (proceeds to go to “The Children’s Garden”); and the Village Fair (held the first Saturday in August) with proceeds donated to the Stonington Community Center.
Gardens by the Sea, a walking tour of private gardens in the Stonington Borough started in 1980 and held every three years, is our major fund raiser making it possible to finance our many public endeavors.
From 1985 to the present, the following projects were funded:
Purchase of trees for North Main Street
Landscaping for the Stonington Free Library and the Lighthouse Museum
Funding and Creating the Children’s Community Garden
Creation of NatureScapes, natural science program with annual field trips for each 3rd grade class in Stonington (private, public, parochial)
Scholarships for 2 high school students to attend Project Oceanology at the University of Connecticut’s local facility; Annual Environmental Award
Purchase of mobile science carts, and annual purchase of science books, tapes, CD-ROMs for the high school and two middle schools
Major funding for the creation of a grape arbor and perennial beds at the Nathaniel Palmer House, Stonington Historical Society’s grounds
Startup funding for Wayland’s Wharf gazebo
Reclaiming wetlands at the Stonington Community Center with the DEP
Published What’s Up Outside, a 56-page teacher’s workbook on Natural Science (1988)
Creation of a wildlife garden at The Vine Street School
Other yearly donations include: the Connecticut Historic Trust Preservation, Avalonia Land Conservancy, Federated Garden Club Scholarship Fund, Village Improvement Association, the Nature Conservancy, Rivers Alliance, and Garden Books purchased for the Stonington Free Library
The rights to the book, What’s Up Outside, were sold to Modern Learning Press. It is to be expanded to include the natural habitats of all 50 states in the United States, with royalties given to the Stonington Garden Club in perpetuity.
In January of 2000, The Stonington Garden Club was accepted into the Garden Club of America, which will provide a new gardening relationship with many clubs throughout the United States.
The following article appeared in the newspaper in 1946 announcing a meeting of the Stonington Garden Club, following a 5-year period of inactivity due to WWII.
|THE SUN, WESTERLY, R.I., SUNDAY, JULY 7, 1946|
|Stonington Garden Club Will Hear About Weeds Tuesday|
| Stonington, July 7 – After a period of inactivity through the war years, the Stonington Garden Club will again begin to function. The first meeting will be held in Stonington Free Library, Tuesday, July 9, at 4 o’clock. Everyone who is interested in flowers is invited to attend.|
Rev. Mark G. Paulsen will give a talk on Weeds. Later there will be an exchange of seedlings. All lovers of gardens are asked to bring, neatly packaged, and labeled, small plants that can be spared.
Mrs. Frederic C. Paffard is in charge of the exchange of seedlings.
The word “exchange” is not strictly literal. Those who come and are unable to bring anything for exchange, may be the very ones most in need of returning home with something to fill in bare spaces, and will be welcome to whatever is available as long as the supply lasts.
To those who may not be familiar with the customs of the Garden Club, perhaps it should be explained that there are neither invitations or dues to our Stonington Garden Club. Interest in gardening is the only qualification for membership. The Garden Club treasury is whatever small offerings are dropped into the little wooden box that appears at the meetings, labeled Benefit of Garden Club. The last expenditure from the garden club box was on October 16, 1941, when in response to an appeal for American seeds for British soil, the garden club was happy to find it could send a contribution, which practically disposed of all its funds. So, again, the Garden Club Box will be ready to receive whatever is offered.
After this long interruption the club is looking forward very eagerly to gathering again.