Garden Club of America

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The Garden Club of America is a nonprofit organization made up of around 18,000 members and 200 local garden clubs around the United States. Founded in 1913,[1] it promotes the recording and enjoyment of American gardens as well as conservation and horticulture.


The foundations for organization were laid in 1904, when Elizabeth Price Martin founded the Garden Club of Philadelphia. Among its founding members was author and gardener Helena Rutherfurd Ely (1858-1920). In 1913, twelve garden clubs from the eastern and central United States signed an agreement to form the Garden Guild, later to become the Garden Club of America.[2]


The recording and preservation of the history of American gardens was an early objective, which saw the gathering of material throughout the 1920s and early 1930s, culminating in the publication of Gardens of Colony and State by Alice B. Lockwood. The book described gardens that had been in existence before the mid-19th century. At the same time, Garden Club members were instrumental in the recording of hundreds of gardens around the country by the use of lantern slides. Much of the importance lies in the documenting of many gardens that no longer exist or that have fallen into disrepair.[3] Much of this material has made its way into the Archives of American Gardens, a unit of the Smithsonian Institution, where it has been stored since 1992.[4]

Conservation has been another objective, the Garden Club of America having promoted the preservation of California redwoods since the 1930s.[2] The club also gives out a $5000 scholarship annually for field research and study of wetlands in the United States.[5]

A horticultural committee within the club was established in 1933, and a former secretary promoted a horticultural display "Gardens on Parade" at the 1939 New York World's Fair[2] The 18 local branches from Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois that form Garden Club of America Zone XI support the American Flower Show Series which has been held at Chicago Botanic Garden since 1973.[6]


  1. ^ "About GCA". Garden Club of America website. New York, NY: Garden Club of America. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Garden Club of America: a timeline". Garden Club of America website. New York, NY: Garden Club of America. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  3. ^ Gail Lee Dubrow, Jennifer B. Goodman (2003). Restoring women's history through historic preservation. JHU Press. pp. 44–46. ISBN 0-8018-7052-6. 
  4. ^ "Archives of American Gardens". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 9 February 2012. 
  5. ^ Center for Coastal Resources Management (2012). "Education: Garden Club of America Wetlands Scholarship". The College of William & Mary. Retrieved 3 February 2012. 
  6. ^ Siskel, Sophia (November 2010). "President's Circle Newsletter November 2010". Chicago Botanic Garden. Retrieved 1 February 2012.