OUTDOOR LIFE: Maynard Garden Club 1938-1962

On March 17 at 7 p.m., the Maynard Public Library will present a zoomed-in talk titled: “Urban Planting: 150 Years of Trees and Gardens,” sponsored by Maynard Community Gardeners. Registration (required) at maynardpubliclibrary.org/gardens.

The garden club we have now – Maynard Community Gardeners, 1995-present, is not a continuation or revival of the Maynard Garden Club which began in September 1938 and apparently ended around 1962. Perhaps a Little too easily, the differences between past and present-day could be described as “white gloves versus dirty knees”. The Maynard Historical Society has extensive notes on the original garden club, including minutes from several early meetings.

The 1938 decision to form a local garden club was sparked by a presentation by Mrs. Walsh, president of the Winthrop Garden Club, on the subject of “Garden Clubs”. From the beginning, a constitution and bylaws were drafted. Membership was limited to 25 and annual dues were 50 cents, later changed to 35 members and $1. According to the constitution of the MGC: “The object of the Club is to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening among amateurs.” By comparison, the current Maynard Community Gardeners has approximately 90 dues-paying members, dues of $20/year, and a mission statement: “Dedicated to sharing a common interest in horticultural pursuits, promoting city beautification, and creating gardening opportunities for all.”

There is an interesting letter from 1939, advising the same Mrs Walsh, on the question of whether the Maynard club should join the Federation. It was apparently the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts. Ms Walsh wrote: ‘The Federation business is run by a group of wealthy women, Groton, Lexington, Concord, Newton, etc., with large estates and they have plenty of money to do things…there is a real feeling that the smaller clubs are like “poor cousins” if you know what I mean. There is no record that MGC joined.

The club’s finances were modest in the extreme. The 1940 Treasurer’s Report noted $13 collected in dues and $4.50 in entrance fees for the annual flower show. Expenses included $16.50 for speakers and $3 for Massachusetts Agricultural Society membership.

The annual programs, which outlined most years with monthly meetings scheduled for September through June, were printed on cardstock with an artist’s drawing of a flower arrangement on the cover. In addition to educational speakers presenting at meetings, the club has also done a service to the public – there are thank you notes from Bedford Veterans Hospital expressing thanks for the gift of flower arrangements, and a note that at least for a while the club helped maintain a garden at Emerson Hospital. Donations to other organizations were modest in nature. A record donation for 1951 to 1955, inclusive, totaled $23. This included $5 to the Maynard Girl Scouts, $5 to the Jimmy Fund, $5 to the MA Heart Fund and $4 to the Red Cross.

There were parallels between the garden club then and the garden club today, including the arrival of outside lecturers, correspondence with other garden clubs, trips to places such as Garden in the Woods , a year-end party with gift exchanges and an annual plant. to sell.

One difference is that the current garden club does not have a judged flower arranging contest. A second difference is that the current club has a community outreach program that includes perennial plantings at Maplebrook Park, plantings at “Welcome to Maynard” signs and historic horse watering holes, as well as flower barrels scattered around the center -town on Nason and Main. streets. For the last, the city provides the barrels; members adopt a barrel and are then responsible for planting and watering. The town collects the barrels in the fall.

Towards the end of the Maynard Garden Club’s existence, there were 24 members. Presentations at meetings were mainly made by members. Subjects included such as: flower arrangements, dried flower arrangements, Christmas bouquets, Valentine’s Day arrangements, daylilies and a joint meeting with the Maynard Woman’s Club (itself existing from 1904 to 1976). There is nothing in the records to show that the Maynard Garden Club continued beyond the year 1961-62.

In addition to the two garden clubs, the March 17 presentation will touch on victory gardens from World War I and World War II, as well as efforts during the Great Depression to produce produce (pronounced, respectively, proh -DOOS and PROH-doos) for consumption. And trees. Much about the history of trees. So many trees.

This column is a slightly revised repeat of a column from August 2018.