The Lenox Garden Club Celebrates 100 Years with Donation of 100K
In 1911, William H. Taft was president of the United States, a first class postage stamp cost two cents, and the Lenox Garden Club was founded. Two years later, the Garden Club of America came into being and the Lenox Garden Club became one of its first member clubs...Like the Garden Club of America, LGC members first came together to share their knowledge and love of gardening. Unlike what stereotypes might suggest, the Lenox Garden Club has always been about much more than flower shows and garden parties. During World War I, the LGC sponsored a Red Cross ambulance and planted Victory Gardens. Then, like now, its mission was to stimulate the interests of its members in horticulture, flower arranging, civic beautification and environmental concerns.
Preservation and improvement of the environment have always been central to that mission. The club sponsored the Pleasant Valley Bird Sanctuary, seconded the purchase of Bartholomew’s Cobble, helped restore the gardens at Naumkeag, and sponsored the Berkshire Garden Center, the present Berkshire Botanical Garden. Through the generosity and hard work of its members, it supports and initiates scholarships and environmental and educational projects. The club’s biggest project has been the restoration of Lilac Park in Lenox. The project began in 1991 and has resulted in a village park that offers residents and visitors respite and beauty. Club members continue caring for the lilacs, planting and weeding the daylily and daffodil beds, doing spring and fall clean-up.
The club’s major fund-raiser each summer, Hidden Treasures of the Berkshires, a house and garden tour, raises money to support local horticultural, educational and civic beautification projects. The club has supported Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Chesterwood, Housatonic River Walk, funded the Berkshire Botanical Garden’s Horticultural Interns Program and Winter Lecture Series, and given financial support to 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.
During its 100 years, both the club and individual members have received numerous awards and recognitions. Some of those include Founder’s Fund Awards for the club, individual awards for club members such as the Garden Club of America Historic Preservation Award, GCA Zone 1 Horticulture Awards, GCA Creative Leadership Awards, medals of merit for mentoring, creativity, and civic improvement. Two members have had their gardens catalogued and photographed for inclusion in the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens.
The Lenox Garden Club has always distinguished itself at flower shows. At the International Flower Show in 1954, they 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, the club’s 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. The club’s Quito, Ecuador garden, entered in the 1987 Boston Flower Show also was awarded the Webster Cup.
The Lenox Garden Club’s decision to celebrate its 100th Anniversary with a gift of $100,000 to construct a Dedicated Classroom for the BBG is not surprising. For 100 years, the club has understood that the best growing conditions for the planet and its inhabitants combine education, community commitment, and a passion for preserving the beauty around us. What better way to ensure healthy growth than to create a place for learning?
Michelle Gillett Lenox Garden Club 2011
Dedication plaque for the new dedicated teaching space named, The Lenox Garden Club Classroom at the Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge, MA. Photo by: Tjasa Sprague
The dedication party for The Lenox Garden Club Classroom was held on July 8, 2011. Members of The Lenox Garden, the Board of Trustees of The Berkshire Botanical Garden and special invited guests celebrated the 100th Anniversary of The Lenox Garden Club and the club’s gift to the Botanical Garden. Photo by: Tjasa Sprague
Lenox Garden Club…. The Stewards of Lilac Park
The tract of land that Lilac Park is situated on was donated to the town of Lenox, MA in 1908.Initially, lilacs were transplanted into the park from local estates. Around the mid century mark, the condition of the park was in poor order and Lyle Blundell was commissioned to plan a restoration. His design was implemented and carried out by The Lenox Garden Club. Care of Lilac Park was sporadic; and again, it met with disrepair. In 1991, it was The Lenox Garden Club in conjunction with town officials, who began the job of restoring Lilac Park to its former glory. Overgrown areas were cleared, lilacs were pruned, drainage was improved, and 100 named lilacs were planted in the park. Additionally, some hemlocks, small shrubs, 1500 daylilies and thousands of spring bulbs were carefully planted.Benches were installed to complete this four year project. To assure that the park would continue to serve the public, the maintenance and care of the gardens would be overseen by The Lenox Garden Club and funded by its annual Garden and House Tour, “Hidden Treasures of the Berkshires”. Today, in the springtime, members from The Lenox Garden Club gather to clean the garden beds of leaves and garden debris.This year (2011), our club’s centennial year, has seen many interesting lilac projects in honor of our commitment to the park. To encourage participation in the park clean up day, a member of the LGC Horticulture Committee sought out and obtained 50% discount coupons for new work gloves from a local hardware store for every club member.An informational meeting was held in Lilac Park andmembers of the LGC Horticulture Committee offered instruction about the history of the park, lilac care, propagation, poetry about lilacs, and conditioning tips for cut lilac blooms. This was followed by a lilac pruning workshop in the park with a local certified arborist and state official. The LGC Horticulture Committee published a booklet on the club website entitled, “Lilac Essentials”, to gather all this valuable information together. To further commemorate the lilac, the LGC Horticulture Committee offered its members the opportunity to purchase a 2 gallon container of Syringa ‘Bloomerang’ to plant in their own gardens. Bloomerang has been named the club’s Centennial plant of the year.
On July 9, The Lenox Garden Club hosted its 21st Annual Garden and House Tour which made possible the beautiful Lilac Park that we have today.The Lenox Garden Club continues to watch over and care for this park as part of its civic commitment to the community of Lenox. Lilac Park is 103 years and is a testament to the fact that lilacs really do captivate all who have had the pleasure of their scent.
MaryEllen O’Brien Lenox Garden Club 2011
LGC - Conservation Committee - Food Net Project "Grow An Extra Row" I’m pleased to report on our successful LGC Conservation Project.We had at least eight members donating pounds and pounds of produce weekly from their gardens this summer. The drop off locations were either Tuesdays at Guidos North or Wednesdays at the WIC office in Gt. Barrington. Paul Deslauriers of the Food Net coordinated this effort and we are hoping to continue this worth-while project next season if members are interested.Below are Paul’s comments about our project.
“All the produce from the participants has been greatly appreciated.The WIC produce is usually gone by Tuesday afternoon.The Guido’s drop-off produce goes to South Congregational Church, the Christian Center and the Harvest Table and becomes part of the 250 meals served on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.Thank you.”
I also would like to thank our members who planted extra and found the time to deliver their donations.Martha Booth and Barb May said it all:It was fabulous to see mothers of young children picking up our fresh vegetables to take home.Congratulations to those who made the commitment.
Sarah Boyd LGC Conservation Committee Chair December 2011
During the fiscal year 2010 - 2011 Lenox Garden Club supported the following in either membership or donations:
GCA ZELLER SUMMER SCHOLARSHIP in Medicinal Botany in honor of Gertrude Burdsall
During the fiscal year 2006-2007, Lenox Garden Club supported the following in either membership or donations:
BERKSHIRE BOTANICAL GARDEN Membership, Summer Intern, and Winter Lecture
GARDEN CLUB FEDERATION OF MA.
CENTRAL BERKSHIRE HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
FLYING CLOUD INSTITUTE
LANESBOROUGH TREE & FOREST COMMITTEE
OTIS CULTURAL COUNCIL
LENOX GARDEN CLUB
Community Donations 1991 – 2011
Ashintully Gardens Bartholomew’s Cobble Berkshire Center for Families & Children Berkshire Botanical Garden Berkshire Historical Society Arrowhead Berkshire Natural Resources Bidwell House Chesterwood Egremont Land Trust Edith Wharton Restoration Elm Watch Garden Club of America Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity Hebert Arboretum Hillcrest Educational Center Housatonic River Walk Housatonic Valley Association Laurel Hill Lenox Library Lenox Pedestrian Bridge Lilac Park Massachusetts Audubon MA Chapter – Nature Conservancy Naumkeag Pittsfield Beautiful Project Native Project Sprout Richmond Elementary School Southern Berkshire Youth Association Sheffield Historical Society Stockbridge Library Student Conservation Fund Trustees of Reservations Ventfort Hall
Williams River Fund Williamstown Rural Land Foundation