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?
The Lenox Garden Club