The Garden Club of North Carolina was organized on November 6, 1925, in Winston-Salem. Present at the organizational meeting were representatives from garden clubs in Asheville, High Point, Raleigh, Reidsville and Winston-Salem. Five years later The Garden Club of North Carolina joined the one year old national organization.
The objects of The GCNC are: to provide a non-profit, philanthropic and educational association for the members; to study, in all its aspects, the art of gardening, particularly horticulture and to cooperate with agencies furthering such interest; to encourage environmental improvement through civic development, beautification, restoration and the protection and conservation of our natural resources; and to assist in educating the youth of our state in the areas of garden club activity.
The largest projects of The Garden Club of North Carolina are three public gardens and a scholarship fund. The oldest garden is the Elizabethan Gardens located on Roanoke Island, at a site adjoining Fort Raleigh National Park. The land for the garden is leased from the Roanoke Island Historical Association for 99 years. Construction on the garden began on June 2, 1953, the day Queen Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England, and it formally opened August 18, 1960. An important highlight in the history of the Elizabethan Gardens was the visit of Her Royal Highness, the Princess Anne of Great Britain, during the 400th anniversary of the English Colonization of America.
The Daniel Boone Native Gardens was adopted by The Garden Club of North Carolina as a project in 1959. The groundbreaking was on March 13, 1961, and the garden was dedicated on June 29, 1963, as a part of the Tercentenary celebration of the crossing of the Blue Ridge by Daniel Boone. The Daniel Boone Native Gardens was established after a suggestion was made that a garden be built near a college with a botany department to study native plant material. The garden is in Boone, adjacent to the outdoor drama Horn in the West, near the campus of Appalachian State University.
The third garden project is the Martha Franck Fragrance Garden. It was adopted by The Garden Club in 1960, and was located in Butner, at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind. Expansion of the Center resulted in the closing of the garden and the statuary was stored. In 1996, Hurricane Fran destroyed many large trees at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, creating a sunny spot for a garden. In 1997, the School asked The Garden Club of North Carolina if it would be interested in establishing a garden for blind students, their families and friends. The re-established garden began as the South Atlantic Region Unified Project in 1997 and was dedicated in 2001.
The first scholarship awarded by The Garden Club of North Carolina was in 1950. The funds for the scholarship came from donations and from the sale of the Botanical Map of North Carolina designed in 1937. In 1951, The Garden Club decided to publish an annual engagement calendar for the purpose of funding a scholarship program. Calendar sales are still the main source of scholarship money, and scholarships are given every year.
Some important dates in the history of The Garden Club of North Carolina are: 1931, the first Flower Show was held; during the 1931-33 administration, the first Junior Garden Club was organized; 1942, the first issue of The North Carolina Gardener was published; 1966, the sale of a Nature Lovers Map of North Carolina began; 1971, the first full color engagement calendar was published; and 1982, the first Blue Star Marker, honoring those who served in World War II, was constructed.
Also in 1982, The Garden Club of North Carolina, in cooperation with the North Carolina Botanical Garden, began a “Wildflower of the Year” program. The chosen wildflower seeds are propagated and packaged at the Botanical Garden and distributed to interested gardeners.
Another cooperative project is with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Every year since 1990, the NCDOT holds a contest among the highway districts to determine which district has the best Roadside Development, and plaques sponsored by The Garden Club are awarded to the winners. Garden club members judge the highway district entries.
In the summer of 2003, The Garden Club of North Carolina moved into its permanent headquarters at the J.C. Raulston Arboretum on the campus of North Carolina State University. It was the realization of a dream that began in 1989 when The Garden Club was bequeathed $160,000 from the estate of Mrs. John W. Querry of Raleigh. You are invited to visit the Headquarters, and to quote the theme of a past president, Mary Lou Goodman, “Come and See” what The Garden Club of North Carolina has to offer you.
From the old program files