Since its founding July 16, 1916, The Catonsville Garden Club has been involved in community projects and concerned with conservation issues. The war emergency was important to the club from 1917 until 1919 and members learned to grow medicinal herbs for the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the club planted trees and shrubs at the Catonsville High School. Classes on flower arranging were conducted and students were given instructions in the care and planting of seedlings. A honey-suckle hedge and poplar trees were planted at the elementary school. The planting and maintenance of the grounds of the new health center began and trees and shrubs were planted on Washington Boulevard near Elkridge. Money was raised to buy a large yew tree for the Washington Cathedral Garden.
Members’ times and efforts were directed towards World War II in the early 1940s. Victory Gardens were grown and home canning and conservation were emphasized. The Club furnished a day room for soldiers at Camp Meade and did planting on the post. Again, medicinal herbs were raised for the hospitals.
In the 1950s the Club cooperated with Baltimore County and other organizations to establish the Lurman Amphitheater on the grounds of the new senior high school. Work continued on the grounds of the Health Center and a film on conservation was given to the high school.
During the 1960s the Delrey Cerebral Palsy Center became the main project. A privet hedge and evergreens were planted and parties were held for the children. Endeavors during the 1970s began with erosion planting along the riverbanks in the Patapsco State Park and the planting of hollies and azaleas at the park entrance. Trees were identified and labeled at the YMCA and the Land Preservation Award was received for the purchase of an acre in the Nassawango Bald Cypress Forest.
Challenging projects in the 80s included the foundation plantings at Old Salem Church and the completion of an extensive renovation project at the Catonsville Historical Society. Gardens were planned and planted near the Administrative Building of Catonsville Community College. With supervision from Club members, pupils of Hillcrest Elementary planted 500 bulbs near the school entrance. The expansion of community service involvement included the revitalization of the monastery gardens and the restoration of the gazebo at Mt. de Sales Academy for which the Club won the Historical Preservation Award from the Garden Club of America. Maintenance work on the gazebo and surrounding garden continued. Also, garden therapy sessions at Delrey School and the Frederick House of the Charlestown Retirement Community have become a regular part of Club activities.
The 1990s found the Club searching for a new community project and restoration of a small garden outside the meeting room of the Catonsville Library became the focus of the Club’s attention. With the cooperation of the Friends of the Catonsville Library the garden was redesigned and two large planters were purchased, planted and maintained by Club members. Under the leadership of a member who is a potter, the Club created a large ceramic mural depicting six favorite storybook characters. The artistic talents of students from six local elementary schools were utilized to create a colorful and appropriate addition. The addition of a garden statue and a iron fence donated by the Friends of the Library contributed the finishing touch.
Recently, the Club has become involved in the School for Environmental Studies by giving horticultural advice and plants to a garden project being developed by the students. Also, the Club has undertaken fundraising to purchase several thousand daffodil bulbs to line the Trolley Car path between Edmondson Avenue and Frederick Road. The Club has already donated money to purchase a large holly tree for the Frederick Road entrance and to help with a tree identification program. In 1992 a Bradford pear was planted at Hillcrest Elementary for Earth Day and, in 1995, seedlings from the Wye Oak were planted at the Presbyterian Church and at St. Timothy’s Church in memory of two deceased members. The most recent club project involved the design and, in 1999, the planting of a knot garden on the grounds of the Catonsville Historical Society. Plans for a nature trail are in the works to complement the grounds surrounding the Historical Society.
In addition, over the years, many post cards and letters have been sent to national, state and local officials in support of major conservation issues. Flower shows have been held at the library, the Health Center, the Historical Society, the Senior Center and Charlestown Retirement Community. Club members have continued a Christmas tradition of making wreaths for the Historical Society, Delrey School, the Health Center and Hampton Historical site.
2006 marked the 90th year of the Catonsville Garden Club. Members and guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner at the Catonsville Country Club followed by a brief program. It was also the seventeenth consecutive year that club members participated in the Art Blooms program at the Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore.
In 2007 the focus was on community. The garden club worked to beautify the Catonsville Senior Center by installing a butterfly-garden in an unused parking lot island. Trellises and clematis were added alongside a rear cement patio area and mixed bulbs were planted outside a large window area.
In 2008, the club continued work in the gardens of the Catonsville Senior Center and the knot garden at the Catonsville Historical Society. Our club hosted a GCA Zone VI Mini- Meeting in October at the country club. Our own Joan Sadler received an award for outstanding Chairman of the Senior Center project from the president of GCA. In May, a very successful flower show was held in conjunction with the Bent Twig Garden Club. In June, club members enjoyed a progressive luncheon and viewing the gardens at three members’ homes.
2009 found our members preparing for and hosting their 1st judged Photography Show which was followed by a cocktail party in the evening. We honored club past presidents at our two dinner meetings, continued our upkeep of the knot garden and the butterfly garden. Our tradition of wreath making and sales of arrangement at Charlestown Senior Center continued as did our participation in Art Blooms.
2010 found us caring for the beds at the Senior Center and the grounds of the Historical Society. We helped fill planters for the main street in Catonsville. In the fall three members attended the Zone VI meeting where Loan and Joan B. won a first for their table centerpiece and Loan exhibited a photo. Our club was the first to pay 100% of assessed funds for the GCA Centennial Celebration in 2013. We designed a new club brochure to hand out at our spring plant sale and also filled planters at Glyn Taff Assisted Living Facility.
2011 found us having completed and submitted “Glenhurst” project to Smithsonian Institution' Archives of Americans Gardens. Glenhurst property has been in Lucy McKean’s family since 1890. Members involved in the project were Lucy McKean, Cindy Mone and Loan Tran.
In 2012-2013, we have benefited from speakers from the Howard County Master Gardening program and taken two side trips including a nature walk in Patapsco Valley State Park and a boat trip to Hart Miller Island for a tour of the conservation area. "Hart-Miller Island is an example of the beneficial use of dredged material. The containment area has reinforced the existing island, allowing for several acres to be designated as Hart-Miller Island State Park... The island has also created a haven for wild-life, helping to offset loss of habitat through-out the Bay region... " (excerpt from The Hart-Miller Island Placement Site, www.mpasafepassage.org).
Keeping the projects of maintaining several of the gardens at the Catonsville Senior Center and the grounds of the Catonsville Historical Society as our main civic interests brings many of our members together throughout the gardening season. It is the camaraderie and the friendships made while working together that keep us active.
We applied for and did receive a grant from the Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland in the Gifts for Great Gardens program for cleaning up and replanting at the historical society in 2013-2014. A Club Appreciation Award was given to Loan Tran for her many contributions at the annual meeting in June, 2014.
Club website can be found at: http://www.thecatonsvillegardenclub.org/