With our picturesque landscapes, inspiration for many artists, it is no surprise that almost every town on the North Shore has a garden club. According to The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, Inc., our area has close to fifty active organizations. Many communities have more than one club, some clubs partner together, and a few are private. One of the common denominators of the organizations featured below is their dedication to civic beautification and volunteerism through the language of gardening.
Newburyport Horticultural Society
Known locally as “The Hort,” the Newburyport Horticultural Society (NHS), established in 1944, has roots dating back to 1832. According to president and horticulturalist Molly Janicki, NHS is an active group that tends many public gardens throughout the city. Recently, at their monthly meeting, Janicki gave a lecture on sustainable gardening. In addition, the NHS has an annual fundraiser called “Books in Bloom” that brings the community together to view approximately 45 floral arrangements inspired by a beloved book. Done in conjunction with the Friends of the Newburyport Public Library, the money raised goes for scholarships for local high school seniors as well as the Friends of Newburyport Trees. Check for new dates of Books in Bloom with the Newburyport Public Library.
For information, visit newburyporthort.org.
North Shore Garden Club
The North Shore Garden Club (NSGC) started with a meeting in the living room of Mrs. Philip Dexter, of Manchester, in 1915. Over one hundred years later the club is still going strong. As a member of the Garden Club of America (GCA), the NSGC follows the GCA mission of leadership in horticulture, conservation, and civic improvement. And, it has supported many local organizations over the decades including the Beverly Hospital Memorial Garden, the Herrick House, and The Trustees of Reservations. “We have a long history with the Sedgwick gardens at Long Hill in Beverly including the annual plant sale in May,” says Susan Barry, president of NSGC. The members also play a key role in helping The Trustees maintain the property by volunteering many hours a year with Dan Bouchard, senior horticulturalist at Long Hill. “I can’t thank the North Shore Garden Club enough for their enthusiasm, advice, hard work and friendship over the years in making the Sedgwick Gardens one of the most special gardens in New England,” says Bouchard. The Plant Sale at Long Hill is scheduled for later this year.
For more information and updates on the plant sale, visit thetrustees.org.
Salem Garden Club
Since 1928, the historic city of Salem has benefitted immensely from the civic involvement of the Salem Garden Club (SGC). Comprised of over 70 active members, the SGC has spread its horticulture deeds far and wide across this diverse city. For example, they plant and maintain many areas including the large urns on the traffic island on Washington Street.
Perhaps the SGC is most known for its garden tours that started in 1937. Today its garden tour is a biennial event. “On ‘off’ years we do scouting missions throughout Salem looking for the next neighborhood to feature,” says board member Meg McMahon. In 2019 the Salem Willows area was where the tour was held. Past sites include the McIntire Historic District, Salem Commons, and South Salem neighborhoods. Most of the SGC monthly meetings are open to the public and usually take place at the Community Life Center on Bridge Street.
For more information, visit salemgardenclub.com.
Seaside Garden Club
The Seaside Garden Club (SGC), in Manchester-by-the-Sea, was gathered in 1969 so that townswomen could tend to their own gardens without hiring a professional. Flash-forward to 2020 and education, hands-on workshops, and civic beautification are the main goals. The SGC meets on the second Tuesday of each month (September-June) at the Manchester Community Center. Recently, they invited lecturer Susan Guest to give an evening talk, “Your Body in the Garden: An Ergonomic Approach to Gardening.” Members brought nibbles and drinks for social time beforehand. But the SGC is much more than just a social club; they tend to many flower containers in town, create Mother’s Day bouquets for elderly residents, and run an annual plant swap. Scheduled for May 12 at the Manchester Community Center, the swap raises funds for a $2,000 annual scholarship awarded to a deserving Manchester/Essex High School student.
For more information, visit seasidegardenclub.wordpress.com.
Generous Gardeners (Gloucester)
Not quite a “club” but a civic improvement movement since 2011, Generous Gardeners has transformed Gloucester into a true garden city. Last fall the green-aproned volunteers planted 19,100 tulips and dug up and cleaned 720 dahlias (for planting in the spring) on Stacy Boulevard. Led by go-getter Susan Kelly, its main mission is to beautify public spaces in Gloucester, especially the iconic boulevard which is currently undergoing a $7 million seawall construction project. Generous Gardeners has worked with the DPW to create a quarter mile of granite-edged beds along the storied seawall, home to the Gloucester Fisherman and the Fishermen’s Wives statues. One of many bonuses of this volunteer group has been to connect the senior community of Gloucester with its newer residents.
Generous Gardeners raises money for its projects through its popular annual garden tour. This year’s theme is “Gardeners’ Gardens,” featuring gardens in East Gloucester. The date is set for Saturday, July 11.
For more information, visit generousgardeners.org.
Topsfield Garden Club
Organized in 1926, the Topsfield Garden Club (TGC) plays an important civic role in the town as well as The Topsfield Fair. Members are not required to volunteer certain hours; rather, they choose projects that appeal to them—and there are many. Not only does the TGC decorate and maintain many plantings in the town, they run an Arbor Day Celebration at the Proctor School as well as “The Grow Spring EXPO”—a trade fair that brings local agriculture, horticulture, and environmental preservation enthusiasts into the wider community. Last year it had approximately a thousand visitors. This year’s EXPO is cancelled due to the coronavirus. Next year’s EXPO will be held on April 10, 2021. For more information, visit tritowngardenclubs.org.
Looking to improve your own garden at home? Check out this complete guide to garden arches.