On October 27, 1934, a small group of men and women gathered at the home of Edgar Brown (23 Hopmeadow St.) to talk about horticulture and plan a flower show Miss Julia Pattison was the club president, Mrs. John S. Ellsworth was the vice president, and Mr. Edgar Brown served as secretary-treasurer. (There were other men in the club, but soon it became a woman-only club.) These first officers declared that the purpose of the club was “to stimulate an interest in horticulture, to assist in civic planting, to aid in the protection of native trees, birds and wild flowers, and to further a higher efficiency in flower arranging and landscape design.” This is very similar to today’s mission.
Annual flower shows were the primary activity of the club, and a new theme was selected each year. In addition, extra shows were held for special events, such as the town’s tercentennial in 1970 and the country’s bicentennial in 1976. Eno Memorial Hall was a frequent venue, but the very first show was held at “Orkill Farm,” what we now refer to as “The Apple Barn.”
House and garden tours were added in the 1940s, and each house was decorated with seasonal floral arrangements made by skilled members. Then, as now, tours were held to raise funds for a special project. In 1954, for example, a tour was held of nine local gardens to raise funds for the War Memorial Pool. Similarly, in 2009, a garden tour was held to raise funds for Flora, the sculpture that decorates the Circle Garden at Simsbury Meadows.
Plant sales began in 1955, held on the grounds of Eno Memorial Hall. They quickly became the annual fundraising event that continues today. Monies raised are used to fund scholarships given to students of Simsbury High School and University of Connecticut who plan to study in a horticultural-related field.
As the years have passed, priorities of the Club have changed. During WWII, flower gardens were converted to vegetable gardens, and garden club members grew vegetables to share with those who had no gardens. Teaching young people became an important mission of the club, and a Junior Gardener group was formed to learn flower arranging and assist in civic beautification. In the 1950s, the Club led the Town clean-up campaign each year, and dressed the traffic islands with flowers to keep the town beautiful. In the 1960s, when the Historical Society assembled buildings for the Massacoh Plantation, the Club designed the Herb Garden, built the brick pathway, and donated the sundial and stone bench. Plantings of trees, bulbs, and perennials have been done at the Historical Society, as well as at Eno Memorial Hall, Schultz Park, the War Memorial Pool, and most recently, the Circle Garden.
Involvement in the community is as strong as ever. The club continues to care for the Herb Garden, the Doorway, and the Betty Fisher Gardens at the Historical Society, and the Circle Garden at Simsbury Meadows. Selected Town buildings are decorated for the holidays each year with 30 wreaths made by Club members. Members also create floral arrangements to display at the public library.
As a member you can get involved in the many club activities: enjoy the monthly meetings, take a horticultural trip with fellow members, try your hand at floral arranging, spend an hour helping in the Circle Garden or the gardens at the Historical Society, and help out at the plant sale. The rewards of participation are satisfying and worthwhile.