A Garden Club for All Seasons The Norwood Evening Garden Club Celebrates 25-year Anniversary
The Norwood Evening Garden Club has never been made up of stereotypical white-gloved-tea-sipping-women. From its very beginnings in 1996, it has attracted hands-on, dig-in-the-dirt men and women interested in educating themselves about horticulture and beautifying not only their own properties, but also their communities.
It had been many years since a garden club existed in Norwood so the initial call for members attracted much attention from Norwood and surrounding communities, especially because the meetings were held in the evening. Today, members hail from Norwood, Walpole, Westwood, Dedham, Medfield, and Randolph. Since its inception, the club has become a non-profit organization and has affiliated with The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, Inc., New England Garden Clubs, and National Garden Clubs, Inc. Club members also serve on the Federation’s board.
According to the Club’s by-laws, their objectives are to “encourage interest in all phases of home gardening and to promote environmentally sound horticultural practices, civic beauty and the conservation of natural resources.” In its 25-year history, they have made great strides toward meeting these objectives – and then some!
Consider their civic beautification efforts. The Club adopted the Washington Street Corridor that runs from Norwood to Walpole, where they plant and maintain several areas with the assistance of Norwood’s Public Works Department. Through grants provided by the Andrew Boch Betterment Fund, an award and grant from The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, and a donation by a South Norwood businessman, they completed a four-phase project to design and plant the 236-foot strip in front of Hawes Pool Park in South Norwood. They also designed and maintain the beds at Guild Square, the “round” in Norwood Center, and the corner of Washington and Cottage streets on the Norwood Common. They have provided gardening assistance in maintaining the Walpole Library’s rain garden, and have worked with The Trustees of Reservations to design and plant a garden at the entrance to Francis Williams Bird Park. The last project on the Corridor was the design and installation of landscape plantings at the George H. Morse historical house in Norwood, which was completed in 2016.
In 2004, the group formed an alliance with the Norwood Historical Society to help restore and maintain the grounds of the F. Holland Day House with gardens suited to the style and period of this mansion. One of the Club’s members continues to maintain these gardens.
Members provide garden therapy for residents of the Ellis Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in spring and fall. And on the opposite end of the age spectrum, they work with high school students to produce Art in Bloom, in which members of the garden club prepare floral arrangements that interpret artwork produced by students. Last spring, the event was cancelled due to Covid, but Art in Bloom will be held again in April of 2022. This will be the 16th year of this ongoing community program which includes art from Norwood and Walpole High School students. The Norwood Historical Society provided the venue for showing the art and floral displays in 2004 and 2005. Since 2006, the George H. Morse House has hosted the event.
Education is extremely important to members of the Club, so they provide a yearly $1000 scholarship to a graduating senior of the Norfolk County Agricultural High School who will pursue a career in horticulture, floriculture, landscaping, or environmental science in its widest aspect. They also offer scholarships to club members for various garden-related studies including those required to become a certified Master Gardener. Many of their members have attended landscape design, garden design, judging certification and master gardener classes to hone their skills.
The Club’s donations to the Norwood and Walpole public libraries (in alternating years) enhance the collection of horticulture books available to local residents. And, in an effort to help eliminate food insecurity, the Club plants and maintains a vegetable garden at Adams Farm in Walpole as part of the Plant-A-Row for the Hungry initiative. Since starting the garden, they have donated thousands of pounds of produce to the Ecumenical Community Food Pantry of Norwood.
To raise funds for their activities, the Club holds a plant sale each May – rain or shine. And according to several of the founding members, it seems to have rained more often than not, but that has not dampened the enthusiasm of the community. The Club has developed a reputation for having outstanding plants at excellent prices. So, no one was surprised that there was not a plant to be had at the end of this year’s and the previous year’s sales.
The Club has consistently participated in the Boston Flower Show, the Marshfield Fair, and the Newport Flower Show, winning many blue ribbons and other honors for both horticulture and design. During their 25-year history, they have been frequent recipients of Publicity Press Book Awards from the state federation as well as National Garden Clubs; they received the Tommy Donan award for the cookbook they produced; and they received a civic development/civic beautification award for the work they have done on the Washington Street Corridor.
The group has also produced a 9-stop garden tour, put on two flower shows, organized a town-wide Earth Day celebration, and participated in many of the Town’s community events.
Each month, speakers chosen from the most knowledgeable experts and practitioners in New England educate and entertain members and guests on a wide variety of topics. The public is invited to attend any monthly meeting, except for those designated for members only. A small donation is requested of guests. The Club meets on the last Tuesday of the month at the Parish House behind the First Baptist Church beginning at 6:45 p.m. and new members – at all levels of gardening – are always welcome. For more information about the Club, go to http://www.NorwoodEveningGardenClub.com.
The Club has not yet decided how they will celebrate their 25-year milestone, but one thing is for sure: whatever they do will be memorable!
Donna Lane is a Norwood-based writer, lecturer and designer, and a founding member of the Norwood Evening Garden Club. You can reach Donna at [email protected]