On March 28, 1928, 15 enlightened women gathered to initiate the founding of The Garden Club of Palm Beach. Their love of flora drew them together; their intuitive sense that it would be wise to have a plan for regulated growth motivated them. Hence, they commissioned the first Town Plan for Palm Beach to organize against the haphazard growth they foresaw. Their prescience has served the town well. Since its inception, the Garden Club has, through its fund-raising efforts, contributed to the beautification as well as the sustainability of Palm Beach. In return, the town has always looked for guidance and support from the Garden Club. Through nine decades, the Garden Club has remained a dynamic force in the town’s civic life.
Flower-arranging as decoration dates back to ancient Egypt. Today, the members of the Garden Club have elevated that art form to its highest level, adding a dedicated group of conservationists, environmentalists, and horticulturalists. Historically, the Garden Club has made contributions to the town of gifts which will endure. These gifts include founding and maintaining the demonstration gardens at The Society of the Four Arts; the town’s historic and specimen tree protection program; funding public park and landscaping projects, including a $100,000 gift for plants and trees for the recent renovation of Memorial Park at Town Hall; contributing to the design and funding for the maintenance of the Living Wall vertical garden on Worth Avenue; and the re-landscaping of the Lake Trail after a devastating hurricane. In 1935, the club gave to the town the royal palms that line Royal Palm Way, as well as the Kaleidoscope beds that define Royal Poinciana’s original Main Street.
Two major recurring events enlist the talents of the club’s 125 members: the yearly fundraising presentation of House and Garden Day on the first Sunday of every March, when ticket holders can visit the homes and gardens of private residents; and a biennial flower show scheduled for April 24 and 25 of this year, mounted by the club as a gift to the town. In addition, one meeting each year is dedicated as a gift to the community. Tickets are free, and have afforded the community the opportunities to hear the likes of Martha Stewart, Bunny Williams, and Charlotte Moss.
Last year, The Garden Club of Palm Beach celebrated its 90th birthday and, in gratitude to the town for the strong relationship established over those 90 years, gave away giant bunches of flowers in pop-up shops on street corners in town. Lucky passers-by could help themselves for free to a luscious bouquet.
To sustain paradise, the Garden Club is committed to issues that affect the lives and health of the people who live here and those who visit. Red tide, green algae, and insect infestation, all of which if left unattended would weaken or destroy the surrounding area’s beauty, are of ongoing concern.
Currently, the Garden Club has joined with the town, the Palm Beach Civic Association, the Preservation Foundation, and the Citizens Association to work together to eliminate chemicals used in landscaping that are linked to human diseases, in the hope of creating a healthier, toxin-free approach to gardening.
Through foresight, innovation, and commitment, the members of The Garden Club of Palm Beach have been able to contribute significantly to their community over the past 90 years, and look forward to continuing for 90 more.