Green Spring Valley Garden Club History
The Green Spring Valley Garden Club, founded in June 1912 by a group of twenty prominent Maryland women who lived near the Green Spring Valley, held its first meeting on July 12, 1912, at the home of Mrs. Mason Knox at Mt. Wilson. There the aims of the club were defined as providing a continuing home garden competition among the members and enabling them to help each other by comparing notes on their gardens and sharing their own knowledge and experiences. The meetings were held weekly in the members' homes, followed by tea.
At this time, the club called itself The Garden Club of Maryland and did not change its name officially to the Green Spring Valley Garden Club until 1915. Thus in 1913, when it became one of the twelve Founder Clubs of the Garden Club of America, it acted under the name The Garden Club of Maryland and is so listed in the annals of the Garden Club of America.
Miss Anna Melissa Graves was one of the prime movers in founding the club. Other original members were Mrs. Knox, Miss Fanny K. McLane, who acted as president from 1913 to 1918, Mrs. Alan McLane, Mrs. Randolph Barton, Sr., Mrs. John McHenry, Miss Margaret Painter, and Mrs. Aubrey Pearre.
By 1918 interest in the club waned, probably due to World War I. As a result, there was serious discussion as to whether the club should be disbanded altogether. Instead, a new president was elected, and the Green Spring Valley Garden Club plunged into War work. Twelve hundred glasses of marmalade and jam were made and sent to the Camp Meade Hospital. Leftover vegetables from the members' gardens were sent to a cannery run by McDonogh School which, in turn, supplied the Red Cross. And a significant gift of free vegetable seed was procured from two different seed companies and distributed to 100 school children in the neighborhood, who the club then helped to start gardens.
This last project launched the major educational undertaking of the Green Spring Valley Club for the next twenty years. This consisted of working with the children in three small neighboring schools to increase their knowledge and interest in gardening and to teach them the importance of conservation. These aims were furthered by giving lectures, some with slides, providing seeds for gardens, holding flower and vegetable shows in the fall at which prizes were awarded, and setting up school conservation exhibits. Finally, in 1934 the club opened a Garden Center in the middle of the Old Conference Home in Pikesville where the children could all plant their gardens together. Some Pikesville women became so interested in this project that it led to another garden club in Pikesville. This work ended with World War II, for afterward, the tiny neighborhood schools were replaced with large consolidated ones, far removed from the Green Spring Valley.
The Green Spring Valley Garden Club also concerned itself with many other activities during this period. In 1915 it had a booth in the first Flower Mart, sponsored by the Women's Civic League at Mt. Vernon Place in Baltimore. When these annual Flower Marts resumed after World War I, the Green Spring Valley Garden Club exhibited every year until 1938 when it was decided to have a booth only every third year. However, the club supported the Mart financially despite not exhibiting.
In 1926 the club planted its first tree, an elm, beside a public highway, and in 1929 it entered the fight against highway billboards under the able leadership of Mrs. Edward McKeon, a long-time member and later president of the club from 1931 to 1933. Articles were written for the newspapers on the ruinous appearance of roadside signs, and radio talks were scheduled. In 1931 two model exhibits were prepared for the Timonium Fair: two feet long and eighteen inches deep. One showed a highway cluttered with billboards, while the other showed a highway with trees and flowers beside it and no signs. These exhibits were so successful that they were borrowed the following year by clubs in eight other states. In 1932 the Green Spring Valley Garden Club joined seven Garden Club of America clubs in planting sections of Washington Boulevard with barberry, iris, and creeping roses. While in 1939, we find the club members working with the Maryland State Roads Commission in an attempt to persuade them to plant the raw bank where new roads had been cut through.
The Green Spring Valley Garden Club has also actively supported restoring and maintaining the Hammond-Harwood House in Annapolis and Hampton Mansion and gardens near Towson. In 1940 when funds were first needed to preserve the Hammond-Harwood House, the club voted for a gift of $250 and then had a thousand leaflets printed dealing with historic Maryland homes and sold these to raise further funds to benefit it. In 1949 the club was one of the sponsors of the Hampton Gardens as a worthy project for the Founder's Fund award of $1,600, which it subsequently won. Since then, special funds raised by the club through plant sales, country auctions, or as its share of the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage have often been allocated to Hampton for further work on its parterre gardens. The club has participated in the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage tours at regular intervals ever since it first sponsored one of the Green Spring Valley in 1937. Many of its members open their own houses and gardens to the public or persuade others with noteworthy homes to do so, for funds raised by these annual tours are used to support the Hammond-Harwood House and to promote other historical restorations throughout the state. In addition, in 1967, the Green Spring Valley Garden Club seconded the proposal that a restoration of the Paca House gardens in Annapolis is the recipient of the Founder's Fund award of $3,300. The Paca House won the award.
Many smaller local projects have also benefited from the club's interest in proper planting for public buildings, for it has contributed labor, money, and professional plans toward plantings around the Pikesville Health Center, St. Thomas' Church, the Green Spring Valley Club, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and Rosewood State Hospital.
Today, our club holds nine meetings annually, providing workshops, speakers, and camaraderie to our members. We continue our efforts to share knowledge and experience with our members about horticulture, floral design, photography, gardening, and conservation. In addition to Irvine, we raise funds for various Baltimore organizations such as the Blue Water Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo, Parks and People, the National Arboretum, and Cylburn Arboretum. We have been sponsors of the Restoration Run, a 5K road race to raise funds for the restoration of the Jones Falls Waterway. We also support a Summer Environmental Studies Scholarship through the Garden Club of America. We continue to be an active group of women who contribute to our club and our community with a wealth of talent and generosity.