100 Years of Horticulture: North Andover Garden Club Celebrates its Centennial
For 100 years, the North Andover Garden Club has been dedicated to encouraging interest and active participation in civic beautification, horticulture, flower arranging and conservation.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, interest in the art of horticulture swept across the nation. Many organizations, such as the local North Andover Improvement Society (1893), focused on the beautification of public gardens and buildings. The genesis for the North Andover Garden club began in the midst of this intrigue with Mrs. Lewis S. Bigelow, who was a member of the Garden Club of America. Residing in North Andover during the spring and summer months, her interest in starting a club became a reality when she called a meeting at her home on August 5, 1920, where she was chosen as the first club president.
As the club developed, members became more accustomed to getting their hands dirty, and garden activities became more hands-on. The club has been responsible for the design and maintenance of garden beds at police and fire stations and public schools. There have been annual tree plantings on Arbor Day. Two-thousand were planted at the NA Middle School. Volunteers spent countless hours planting, weeding and pruning at landmarks such as Stevens Memorial Library, Patriots Park, Parson Barnard Historic House, and the Stevens-Coolidge Place.
In 1984, the club hosted its first annual Plant Sale, which draws customers from throughout the Merrimack Valley. Proceeds from the sales are distributed in numerous ways. Funds are used for conducting garden therapy workshops at local senior center facilities, decorating holiday wreaths for town buildings, providing a $1500 scholarship to a North Andover High School graduate, and the sponsoring of lectures on horticulture-related topics. Even during the COVID-19 crisis, the club managed to have a successful plant sale in June, raising over $1,000.
“Having been a member for half the club’s existence, participating in and observing the evolution of the club, it is to the credit of the strong women who have led and worked to make the club the vibrant group it is today,” says club historian Harriett Osgood. “I have every confidence that the club will continue to nurture gardens and friendships for the next 100 years.”