The History of the Arlington Garden Club of Vermont
A group of Arlington ladies who shared a passion for flowers and gardens gathered in 1941, continuing to meet informally as a Garden Club. As their enthusiasm and numbers grew to include ladies from neighboring towns, the group became recognized in 1947 as a member of the Federation and National Council of State Garden Clubs. Today the Club boasts about sixty members and a continued dedication to the beauty of the Town of Arlington and growth in the field of horticultural education.
According to history, the first major challenge the Club faced was the rapid spread of Dutch elm disease. In response, the members initiated a campaign to save the elms in town, an effort that lasted twenty years and grew to include other members of the community. As history also tells us, the elms were lost in spite of the battle, but the Arlington Garden Club didn’t give up.
In 1977, the Club spearheaded the Arlington Tree Committee and donated $500 toward the replanting of the town “Green,” providing funds for the committee to start planning and planting. In 1982 the Club donated another $1,000 for granite curbing to protect and complete the new Village Green.
Starting in 1965, the Club had been caring for the Vermont State Seal Pine Tree, a designated historic site. The care of this tree cost in dollars, labor and calamine lotion until the tree was destroyed by a wind storm in 1978. Then Governor Richard M. Snelling, through the Department of Parks and Forests, found a healthy seedling. The tree was replaced and the site rededicated on May 5, 1979.
In the past, the Club has completed large projects like the landscaping of Fisher Elementary School and redesigning the area around the Town Hall. More recently, members have undertaken landscaping a Habitat for Humanity house.
In 1984-85 the Arlington Garden Club won the first prize of $400 from the Vermont Agriculture Committee in the public space division of the Plantsmen Promotion Board Landscape Division. This prize was given for accomplishing a long anticipated project, “Making Arlington a Lilac Town.”
The Club had maintained for many years a perennial island garden at the intersection of Routes 7 and 313. When that intersection was redesigned, the garden was moved to the St. James corner of the intersection and thrived there for several years. Space issues caused by the need for new sidewalks along the cemetery wall dictated complete removal of the garden. The AGC redirected some of the materials from that garden into a sitting garden in a vacant space on the north side of the Community House. There is now a bench in the shade and perennial plantings along a path between the Community House and the Arlington Inn.
In 2010, the Club revived an old tradition of lighting a Christmas tree in the center of town. After donating a blue spruce planted on the front lawn of the Community House, the Club thought it would be fun to celebrate the planting with the whole community. About three hundred luminaries were collected, placed and lighted along Main Street. Santa was invited, the tree was lighted, carols were sung and there were cookies and hot chocolate for all. Santa passed out hats and candy canes to all the children. This has become an annual activity, drawing many children and families.
Club members undertake normal care for the gardens in the Recreation Park and in East Arlington, as well as flower boxes on the bridge. The Girl Scouts established a small garden in front of the Community House with the direction of Arlington Garden Club members. Flower shows for the enjoyment of the community and our members are a normal part of activities, plus the bi-annual garden tours in the summer. Standard and non-standard flower shows are held in both public venues and individual’s private homes. The Club also undertakes the decoration with Christmas wreaths of the Covered Bridge in Arlington and the Chiselville Bridge, as well as the front door of the Community House.
In addition to caretaking, fundraising activities in the form of flower shows, garden tours, bake sales, raffles and bazaars require tremendous thought and energy. The majority of funds raised are destined for scholarships for local college students interested in horticulture or environmental related careers or for elementary-age students who are given a chance to go to an environmental camp in the summer. As a group, the Arlington Club Garden Club members are devoted and caring individuals who want only the best for their community and neighbors.