Garden club continues to blossom, bring beauty to Lancaster
Since then 80 years have passed and to celebrate this anniversary, members of the Lancaster Garden Club hosted a celebration Wednesday, July 11, at the Lancaster Country Club.
The Lancaster Garden Club’s history stems from Birdsey Jackson, the founder, who at the time invited a small group of women to meet at her home to form a garden club. Newly organized, the members met twice a month at each other’s homes.
The club grew immensely from there, even forming a junior garden club. Their achievements included the planting of French and Persian lilacs in Como Lake Park, some of which still stand today.
Also, during the dark days of the war, the club furnished cookies, candy, and decorations for the air cadets of Curtiss Aire. Between bond selling and victory garden hoeing, the meetings continued.
Members came and went, younger matrons became interested in keeping the garden club going. They continued to encourage civic beautification in the community, maintain and preserve New York State natural resources and stimulate interest in gardening among members, community, and youth- all of which became club objectives and are continued today.
“It has changed since I belonged,” said Mariette Miller, past president of the club, chairperson of the 80th anniversary event, and a member of the club for nearly 40 years. “It was definitely a night out at that time and it was quite serious. We would go to meetings and we would dress nicely and had a silver tea service and since then it has evolved.”
With about 60 members of all ages, they take part in areas of design and competitions that are held at the Erie County Fair.
Current President of the Lancaster Garden Club Carol Ottaviani said she has been a member for eight years and every summer the club creates a display at the fair. This year, the fair’s theme is “Wild about the Fair,” so the garden will reflect “Walking on the Wild Side,” and be a jungle themed garden. This is overseen by Janet Heinemann, a garden club member.
“You go into the garden club with different expectations,” remarked Dawn Brennan, publicity chairperson for the club and a member for 27 years. “My main interest was horticulture and everybody has a different niche.”
Miller for example said she does not share Brennan’s passion for horticulture, but enjoys the artistic aspects of the club.
“I have always had a love for the garden club,” added Miller. “You almost can’t explain it. It is a wonderful organization and we hopes it keeps going.”
Debbie Braun, past president, said the club gardens in front of the town hall, the Village of Lancaster Municipal Building and members take part in garden therapy at the St. Elizabeth’s Home, Elderwood and Maplewood.
“We work with the community,” remarked Braun. “We do youth projects such as Arbor Day and then Christmas as well. We try not to do just stuff just within. We try to work within our community as well.”
As a newer member, Braun said the club does a variety of things throughout the year.
“We are not just about getting your hands dirty in a garden or making an arrangement,” added Braun. “There are other ways people can contribute to the club as well.”
In addition, Joanne Olszewski, a member for 28 years, said with all the new subdivisions in the town, a lot of women come to the club hoping to learn how to beautify their gardens and yard.
“We help them by offering programs and demonstrations [at our monthly meetings,]” commented Olszewski.
These are also offered to current members so they can continue to learn and educate themselves.
“The way members continue to transfer the knowledge they have gained to the newer members is always wonderful,” said Brennan. “The camaraderie continues to grow from young women to older women.”
The 80th anniversary celebration included a social hour, dinner, and a program, which reminisced about the history of the club and included scrapbooks of past projects and members.
Braun said the scrapbooks go back many, many years, almost to the very beginning.
“It is very interesting to look at what the ladies did to help during WWII in that respect,” added Braun.
The Lancaster Garden Club also received a proclamation from the Town and Village of Lancaster.
“I think one of the most important things of the garden club is there is such a variety of women of all ages, walks of life, education, and families,” said Olszewski.
Anyone is welcomed to attend a meeting to become a potential member. The club meets at 7 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at St. John’s Lutheran Hall, 55 Pleasant Ave., Lancaster. For more information, visit www.lancastergardenclub.com.