More than a century has passed since Mrs. William Rand gathered a small group of ladies together at her home on Forest Avenue for the first meeting of the Rye Garden Club. The group dedicated itself to the Ďadvancement of gardening' and the protection of the natural resources of our beautiful coastal community. Over the years our club has stayed true to these commitments. It is fitting that one of the first programs on record offered by Rye Garden Club was on the topic of the interrelationship of insects and plant life. One hundred years later, we install a pollinator garden at Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary as our Centennial Gift to the community and this educational mission continues.
From the beginning, Rye Garden Club has endeavored to promote the love of gardening, floral design and the natural world among its members and the community and to contribute to the wellbeing of Rye. A stroll though Rye Garden Club archives chronicles steady and true dedication to these missions. In 1918 the club hosted a bulb show for the public, led workshops on war gardens and canning vegetables and raised funds for the Red Cross and United Hospital. Educational programs at Rye elementary schools began in the 1940s and continue with strength today. Tree and garden plantings for the city have been a consistent part of every year's works. Our club's relationship with the Rye Free Reading Room began in 1948 when the club took over pruning tasks there. In the 1960s and 80s the club designed and planted gardens at the library and Square House that we continue to improve and maintain today. For United Hospital the club provided weekly flower arrangements beginning in 1947 and later installed a meditation garden for patients. Over 20 years of May Market fundraisers, plant sales at the home of Jean Flagler Matthews, provided the funds for the many organizations Rye Garden Club has supported over the years.
Along with these industrious civic works, Rye Garden Club members have participated in flower shows and championed conservation efforts. Wouldn't it be wonderful to see the "Garden of Tomorrow" that Rye Garden Club exhibited at the Worlds Fair in 1939 or to hear Edith G. Read speak to defeat the Penther Dam Project and later the Oyster Bay Bridge? Awards received at flower shows around the country by esteemed Rye Garden Club members Kit Barker in floral design, and Betsy Jennings in horticulture, are almost too numerous to count.
We take pride in the history of our vibrant club and look ahead to an exciting future. Rye Garden Club is truly "One Hundred Years and Blooming."