Founded in 1911...A Short History of Lenox Garden Club
The Lenox Garden Club was founded in 1911, antedating the Garden Club of America by two years. In 1913 we became a member of the GCA, and in 1916 we were the hostess club for the Annual Meeting, only one day long and largely devoted to afternoon tea. We entertained the GCA again at the Annual Meeting of 1962. This time four hundred guests arrived and stayed for four days. We have been the hostess club for four Zone Meetings: Zone II in 1968; Zone I in 1978; 1997 and 2016.
We have accomplished much over the years. During WWI we sponsored a Red Cross ambulance, and our "Land Girls" planted vegetable gardens where flowers once grew, canning and preserving the harvest. Later, in tune with the growing awareness of conservation and the environment, the LGC sponsored the Pleasant Valley Bird Sanctuary; seconded the purchase of Bartholomew's Cobble (winning the Founder's Fund Award); and was first to sponsor the Berkshire Garden Center (now the Berkshire Botanical Garden).
The LGC won the Founder's Fund Award again in 1952 by joining with others to sponsor a research expedition to England to benefit the New York Botanical Garden. Two of our members have had their gardens catalogued and photographed for inclusion in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens. Members have been the recipients of the Garden Club of America Historic Preservation Award, GCA Zone Horticulture Awards, GCA Creative Leadership Awards, GCA Medals of Merit, Zone I Nell Schwartz Mentoring Award, Zone I Civic Improvement Award, The Fenwick Medal, The Dorothy Vietor Munger Awards, The Harriet DeWaele Puckett Creativity Award, and the Ann Lyon Crammond Award.
Over the years the LGC has distinguished itself at many flower shows. At the International Flower Show in 1954 we designed "Plymouth 1649," a house and garden which won the Blue Ribbon and a special commendation by the New York Horticultural Society. In the bicentennial year of 1976, our 1676 garden in the New England Spring Flower Show in Boston won the Blue Seal, the Gold Seal, the Ames Cup for Horticultural Excellence and the Mrs. Edwin Sibley Webster Cup for Excellence in Design. Our Quito, Ecuador garden, entered in the 1987 Boston Flower Show, was also awarded the Webster Cup. The Zone I Flower Show, held at Hancock Shaker Village in 1990, sponsored by the Lenox, Berkshire and Bennington Garden Clubs, won the GCA Small Flower Show Award. "Bloomsday," a GCA small flower show, was held at the Lenox Athenaeum in June of 2006.
The restoration of Lilac Park, begun in 1991, is the largest project the LGC has ever undertaken. We have planted and tended approximately 55 memorial lilacs of many varieties, which we believe to be the largest collection of lilacs in western Massachusetts. This ongoing project has been funded by profits from the annual Garden and House Tour, which was begun in 1991 by two of our members as a means to fund the restoration. The town of Lenox has also assisted in funding. In recognition of the restoration of Lilac Park and of its benefit to the community, the LGC has received a Certificate of Merit from the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, and the Cornelia Watson Bowl for Historic Preservation.
The annual Garden and House Tour, "Hidden Treasures of the Berkshires," continues to be a highly successful fundraiser. Proceeds from the tour have enabled us to give away monies in support of local horticultural, educational and civic beautification projects. We have given generously to the restoration of the Chinese Garden at Naumkeag. We have funded the Berkshire Botanical Garden's horticultural Interns Program and Winter Lecture Series. Financial support has also been given to the following organizations: Great Barrington River Walk, Elm Watch, Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation, Hebert Arboretum at Springside Park, Ventfort Hall, Project Native, Habitat for Humanity, Bidwell House Museum, Lenox Library Association, Southern Berkshire Youth Association, Berkshire County Historical Society, and others.
The Lenox Garden Club is proud to be an active participant in the Berkshire community. In the coming years we will continue to enhance our knowledge of horticulture, flower arranging, civic beautification, conservation and the environment.