Throughout the past 80+ years, the HGC has offered informative programs and installed beautiful plantings in the town of Holliston, which have been a source of enjoyment and pride for Club members.
In honor of the Club’s 70th anniversary, member, Carol Meritt interviewed current and former members to get their perspective on what makes the Holliston Garden Club special. Her brief history follows:
1930s: The beginning
On July 10, 1933, Mrs. Henry Cutler invited 12 friends who enjoyed gardening and flower arranging to her home to discuss the formation of a garden club. The original charter of this new club stipulated that all members be “dirt” gardeners and take an active part either in the presentation of programs or in other phases of the club’s activities. Mary Wells was elected the first Club President.
1940s: The war years
The Club took part in the war effort on the home front by participating in a town-wide canning project. Members taught the art of canning fruits and vegetables to young women in Holliston. The Club was also active in visiting veterans’ hospitals with flower arrangements.
1950s: Club traditions grow
Some traditions we carry on today began during this period. The Open Meeting featured the chair of botany from Wellesley College who spoke on insecticides, while a speaker from the Garden in the Woods presented ‘Wildflowers in the Garden’. Food sales, Yankee swaps, flower shows, field trips to gardens far and near kept members busy. The traditional May Plant Sale also began during this period.
On the Club’s 25th anniversary, the Club planted Dogwood trees at the Town Hall, the Historical Society and at churches in town. Residents were also able to purchase the trees for their own yards – think of that this spring when these still-lovely trees are in bloom!
By the end of this era, the Club had begun to participate in educational programs offered through the State Federation of Garden Clubs. Conservation had become a popular topic and the Club aided in both national and state projects.
1960s and 1970s: A tree grows in Holliston
Continuing with its conservation efforts, the Club took on a number of projects designed to increase the tree population in the town. In 1966, partnering with the tree warden and a group of Middle Schools students, the Club planted 30 Crabapple trees at the Middle School. Sadly, all but one of these trees were removed when the Middle School was renovated.
In 1971, in honor of the space program, the club planted a Moon Tree by the police station. A variety of tree seeds were taken aboard the Apollo 14 mission to the moon and the resulting ‘Moon Tree’ seedlings were distributed to many towns in Massachusetts. One of these seedlings, an American Sycamore, was planted at the police station in 1976. This tree, which can grow to about 100 feet high and 10 feet wide is currently about 40 feet high and 15 inches in diameter.
1980s: Changing with the times
The early 1980s saw an influx of new members who brought a new spark of life to the Club. Members celebrated its 50th anniversary with a major flower show and luncheon at the Historical Society. The Club also developed the Pocket Garden for the Public Library during this era. With little funding available, the Club donated trees, shrubs, and willing hands for the garden and has maintained the site ever since. The stone dog in the garden was placed in loving memory of librarian, Phyllis Gilman.
The Club also continued to share its love of gardens with the community. The Daffodil Trail through the center of town along Washington Street began in the late 80s and the club expanded its beautification, Arbor Day, and civic planting activities to help “green” the town. The Club also held its first Art in Bloom at the Library, a non-juried flower show that blends art from Holliston High School students with members’ interpretive floral designs.
1990s: 60 years and still growing
For its 60th anniversary, the Club held a traditional Victorian high tea and members came dressed accordingly with hats trimmed in – what else?! – flowers. Club activities included a “tablescapes” and “traditional” flower show at the Library and the first Club cookbook fundraiser. The Club also organized and sponsored the “Downtown Window Box Competition” to honor the Town’s 275th and the Club’s 65th anniversaries. At this special juried program for local businesses, the Club provided awards to the best window box displays. Many participating businesses still maintain their window boxes today.
21st century: The new millennium
In honor of its 70th anniversary, the Club planted over 70 Magnolia trees in town and members’ gardens. The second edition of the Club cookbook raised $5,000 for the Holliston Food Pantry. A multigenerational project was organized in partnership with Holliston High School students in support of the Holliston Manor nursing home in the form of a wheelchair-accessible garden bench to be used by Manor residents. The Club also hosted two very successful Garden Tours, proceeds of which were earmarked for civic projects to benefit the town. In the fall of 2007, a garden of drought and deer-resistant plants was designed and installed at the Recycling Center on Marshall Street.
The twenty-tens – present: The work continues
The Club continued its commitment to the community and its members. Several Club members were stewards at the World Association of Flower Arrangers convention. In 2013 and 2015, the Club hosted ‘Art Blooms in Holliston’ featuring 20 and 25 (respectively) works by local artists with a corresponding, interpretive floral designs by Club designers. The 2013 Garden Tour featured 6 local, stunningly beautiful gardens. In 2013, The Club began its three-year plan to beautify the Rail Trail. In 2014, the patio garden at the Town Hall was installed by Club members. For the first time, Club members chaired both divisions of the 2015 Boston Flower Show. The frog and toad conservation workshop, ‘Frog Hollow’ was presented in 2016 to local children and parents.