At the 2013 Annual Meeting of District II of Garden Clubs of Illinois, Inc., Director Mary Burke congratulated the Naperville Garden Club on the occasion of our 85th anniversary.
In 1927, the “Garden Committee” of the Naperville Woman’s Club met and decided to establish a Garden Club. “Nearly 40 ladies” attended and the speaker was James Young of Young’s Aurora Nursery. He begged the women to run the club with an “ardent desire for the good of individual and municipal gardening,” not along “pink tea lines.” The ladies continued to meet as a Garden Committee within the NWC, selling iris rhizomes for spring planting.
In 1929, an independent Garden Club was formed and one of the first official actions was the organization of the Junior Garden Club. This relationship with the youth in our community continues today. (If you find a ladybug or a praying mantis in your garden, it probably came from one of our Junior Gardener projects.) Dues were 50 cents a year and the iris was selected as the official Naperville Garden Club flower.
During the war years in the early 1940’s, the Club sponsored Victory Gardens. The city gave the Club use of part of the Martin Mitchell farmland for this purpose and the gardens successfully yielded abundant crops.
A financial turning point or the Club came in June of 1960 when it contacted an entire railroad boxcar of buckwheat hulls (600 bags weighing 50 lbs. each) to be sold to the gardening public of Naperville.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, the civic committee projects included plantings at the train station, the Nichols Library, school grounds, the Barn, Martin Mitchell Museum, Central Park and Naper Settlement. In the 1980’s the Club’s 50-book collection was donated to the Naperville Public Library.
Our projects today include gardening at Martin Manor, the Blue Star Memorial Marker in Burlington Square Park, the donation of trees each year to celebrate Arbor Day and Garden Therapy projects at the Ecumenical Adult Care Facility.
The Naperville Garden Club has come a long way since 1927. Guests are always welcome, so come grow along with us. For more information, visit www.napervillegardenclub.org.
Thanks to our club historian, Bonnie Bula, for contributing to this column.