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The original invitation
Mrs. Martin in her garden, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
"Walden," the garden of Mrs. Cyrus H. McCormick, a founding member of the Lake Forest Garden Club
GCA members campaigned against the logging of redwoods as early as the 1930s.

The Garden Club of America: a timeline

1904: Mrs. J. Willis Martin (Elizabeth Price Martin) founds the Garden Club of Philadelphia.

April 30, 1913: Encouraged by the letter-writing campaign of Mrs. J. Willis Martin and Mrs. Bayard Henry, the founding garden clubs gather in Philadelphia "to overcome their indifference and to put aside their fear that being organized would destroy their independence and kill the joy of living." The women call their new organization "The Garden Guild," and agree to hold their First Annual Meeting the next day. Adopted at that meeting is the following policy:

"The objects of this association shall be: to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening among amateurs; to share the advantages of association through conference and correspondence, in this country and abroad; to aid in the protection of native plants and birds; and to encourage civic planting."

June 1913: In the minutes of Lake Forest Garden Club Directors’ meeting, Kate Brewster writes:

"A letter was read from Miss Goodman, Secretary of the Garden Guild, announcing that there was much dissatisfaction with the name chosen for that organization and that it would probably be changed to the Garden Club of America."

The twelve founding clubs of The Garden Club of America are:

  • Amateur Gardeners’ Club, Maryland
  • Bedford Garden Club, New York
  • Gardeners, Pennsylvania
  • Green Spring Valley Garden Club, Maryland
  • Lake Forest Garden Club, Illinois
  • Garden Club of Michigan
  • Garden Club of Orange and Duchess Counties, New York
  • Garden Club of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Garden Club of Princeton, New Jersey
  • Short Hills Garden Club, New Jersey
  • Warrenton Garden Club, Virginia
  • The Weeders, Pennsylvania

1913: Mrs. J. Willis Martin suggests that member clubs contribute to a regular newsletter, or Bulletin, as a way to communicate with each other between annual meetings.

1919: The GCA begins its first campaign against billboards.

1921: A GCA founding member testifies before Congress on behalf of parks in Washington, DC.

1928: The American Academy in Rome approaches the Garden Club of America about giving a fellowship in landscape architecture. The GCA begins its first significant fundraising campaign among its member clubs, eventually raising the requisite funds to establish a permanent fellowship and partnership with the American Academy in Rome that continues today.

1930’s: GCA members campaign to save California’s redwood forests.

1933: The GCA establishes the first Horticultural Committee.

1939: Mrs. Harold I. Pratt, former GCA secretary, presents "Gardens on Parade" at the World’s Fair in Queens, New York, and introduces attendees to new techniques in hydroponics, flower arranging, and horticulture.

1954: The Northeastern Zone becomes the first zone to sponsor "The GCA Interchange Fellowship," an exchange between English and American graduate students interested in horticulture.

1989: The GCA formally establishes position papers pertaining to environmental and conservation legislation.

1994: The GCA presents an incomparable collection of thousands of historic glass slides of America’s early 20th century gardens to the Archives of American Gardens of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

2013: Centennial Celebration


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