In 1914 eight ladies formed the Rumson Garden Club and held the first annual Flower Show the following year. The club joined the Garden Club of America in 1916 listing 146 members. Meetings were held from May through October and featured exhibits, lectures, papers by members and “Field Days.” Civic activities focused on the development of children’s gardens and food conservation for the war effort.
From our earliest days, Rumson Garden Club has encouraged members to exhibit at monthly meetings. In 1917, there were 45 Horticulture classes, and in 1920 “Display Classes” were introduced. Today we meet eight times from September through June, with eight or more classes scheduled for each meeting. Workshops and lectures have introduced us to modern forms of artistic design, photography, propagation, garden design, and conservation. Since entering the International Flower Show in 1925, members have continued to exhibit at various locations in New York, the Philadelphia Flower Show, the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, and at Flower Shows of other GCA and local clubs.
Civic Projects are a very important part of our history and community involvement. In 1942 our members began landscaping at the Forrestdale School, restored its cow pond in 1955, and undertook a major upgrade in 2005 to tie in with environmental studies. At Deane Porter School a courtyard was installed in 1987. Back at Forrestdale in 2000, a Millennium Garden was planted in conjunction with a greenhouse and educational programs. The Club installed window boxes at the Oceanic Library in 1962 and continues to plant and maintain them, along with traffic islands, park sites and various buildings in the community. Workshops to bring Christmas cheer to area organizations have been an annual event since 1930. Scholarships have been awarded to local students since 1996. In 1977 and 1978, we received the Founder’s Fund runner-up award for the renovation of Historic Twin lights in the Highlands, largely through the efforts of Millicent Johnsen, past RGC and GCA President. Conservation efforts include the publication of educational water brochures in 1978 and 2003; ongoing programs on the importance of planting trees and native plants; and informative lectures on ocean and beach preservation with the guidance of our member, Cindy Zipf, founder of Clean Ocean Action and recipient of the GCA Frances K. Hutchinson medal in 2002. Civic projects have been funded over the years by our workshops to create home and garden decorations, tours of our members’ gardens, and plant sales.
Rumson Garden Club continues to be a vital force in the Two River community, as well well as in Zone IV, and the GCA. We stay connected through our monthly newsletter, virtual and in-person meetings, and online through our website and social media channels. Field trips, lectures and workshops stimulate our knowledge and love of our core interests while our civic projects keep us committed to beautifying and improving our world. In anticipation of our 100th Anniversary in 2014, the archives of our club were compiled and a video created to bring our history alive.
In May 2018 the club hosted the three-day Zone IV “Greetings from the Jersey Shore” flower show and meeting. The event focused on our ocean environment, unique among the New Jersey clubs. Hundreds of GCA members heard lectures on such timely topics as water quality and conservation, and the importance of native plants. The statewide flower show was open to the public, and showed the full range of Zone IV talents with exhibits of flower arrangements, horticulture, botanical arts, and photography.
The global pandemic of 2020-22 brought many challenges but our members created ways to be together safely and continued to hold flower, horticulture, and photography shows. We learned to use webinar platforms and hosted interesting lectures from experts all across the country. As a club we grew even closer in the uncertain times and look ahead to an exciting future.