Information gathered from an article in the Pine Plains Register Herald, January 22, 1953 describing the early history of the Pine Plains Garden Club from 1930-1953.
During 1929 a yard and garden contest was sponsored by the Pine Plains Register Herald as a prelude to an idea of Mrs. Aroh’s that the formation of a garden club here could be of service to the community. In the fall a meeting was called by her – no one showed up! A second meeting was planned and she managed to coerce a few neighbors in to talk over the plans. The following spring, March 8, 1930, we did organize with the following as members: Eda Arch, Anna H. Haight, Bess Falls, Agnes Hedges, Ella A. Burch, Grace M. Ross, Georgina R. Clifford, Blanche Butterfield, Mabel B. Peck, Eva V. Edelman and Christine R. Wiltsie.
We started with many activities, another yard and garden contest, a stereopticon, a lecture “Beautifying the Home Grounds”, a shrub and plant sale, sale of subscriptions to Better Homes and Gardens and enlisting the Boy Scouts to clean up the dump which was then located on the main highway in west Pine Plains. All this in less than two months. The dump proposition was worked on for several years. We finally had a privet hedge planted to hide it.
To give encouragement, two friends of Mrs. Aroh’s, Mrs. Jacob Strong and Mrs. Frank L. Asher of the Rhinebeck Garden Club, secured an invitation from the Astor estate for a tour of the gardens on May 23. A sizeable group enjoyed it, several being guests and all were later entertained by Mrs. Strong at her home with cooling refreshments.
Mrs. George C. Cow, whom we have always referred to as “mother” of our club, then president of the Poughkeepsie Garden Club, in June came to us with an inspiring talk, suggesting programs and activities. She also arranged a tour of two lovely gardens in Poughkeepsie, the late Clarence Lown’s famous rock garden which was moved to College Hill Park after his death, and also Mr. Kenyon’s beautiful ravine garden. The Poughkeepsie club also extended us an invitation to a meeting held at Vassar College to hear Ernest H. Wilson who was the scientist who found and introduced the regal lily, and a tour was also taken of the college’s Shakespearean garden.
So much for the first few months of the club’s activities. At our regular meetings members took part in preparing and giving talks on such subjects as “Raising Perennials from seed for next year’s garden”, “Lilies for the Garden”, “The Fall Garden Campaign”, “What’s in a Bulb”, “Plant Potting Pointers”.
One of the main aims of the club was civic improvement. Parking of cars in front of Memorial Hall was done right up to the front wall. It was decided to sponsor the building of a curb and landscaping it. In October this was accomplished. A few of the members graded, seeded, and planted evergreens after quite a number of loads of loam and been secured. The total cost amounted to close to $100. (The planting was destroyed by the theatre management when large vestibule on the front of the building. The Masonic Hall committee has been asked to see that something be done to replace it – no results so far). Persistent requests for the planting of highway trees along the mid-county highway, Pine Plains thru Washington Hollow, did bring results from the state highway department.
By 1931 we had 33 members. Some were considered associate members as they were unable to join in the club’s activities but were in sympathy with our principles and so helped financially.
We joined the State Federation in 1933.
Some of our other community activities were landscaping around Memorial clock square, placing welcome signs at the four entrances to our village, planting at the old railroad station of shrubs and for several years keeping the grass there mowed until it was purchased by a local resident. We made available on two different occasions the economical purchase by individuals of Austrian pine trees for local gardens. Close to 100 were planted. Blueprints by Miss Theodosia Burr, a friend of the club an a landscape architect, were presented for the suggested planting improvements around the Grange Hall and Odd Fellows Hall. These blueprints were presented to the organizations.
One evening each year for a number of seasons, men’s night programs were held with speakers bringing topics especially of interest to men. Yearly flower shows were held, the first two are remembered for their “N.Y. flower show touch” – real gardens being the center of the whole exhibit. We recall a real rock garden, with pool and a moonlit garden. Pine Plains club also had a record of consistently taking part in the Dutchess County Fair flower shows from 1931 to date with the exception of one year during the war. We have also had a part in the local FFA shows since 1940.
Beginning in 1932 and every year up until the war years, Christmas lighting of homes had been encouraged. We also assisted or had charge of holiday lighting at the town clock and since 1935 shut-ins of the community were remembered with gifts at Christmas.
In 1939 we started Junior Garden club work but due to lack of leadership, it was discontinued in 1942. Mrs. Wiltsie and Mrs. Aroh had the thrilling experience of entering a picture window exhibit featuring Mrs. Wiltsie’s glads, at the Worlds Fair in July, 1939 in the name of the club. 1939 also saw our first of two antique shows for the raising of funds which proved most popular. In 1940 we started supporting bills against billboards thru legislation.
1941 began the Second World War years. We contributed seeds for Britain ,to the USO fund, Red Cross, sent 42 boxes of food to Holland, Denmark and England, bought a war bond and gave $1 and a card to each local serviceman at Christmas. We cooperated with the Grange on a Victory Garden Harvest show, had the FFA group at a meeting testing samples of our soil; home economics teacher spoke on food preservation of garden produce. In money a total of $479 was given during the war years.
In 1945 we landscaped the Legion Home, contributed to servicemen’s gifts, started giving the science prize to the graduating class, yearly $10. In 1946 we joined Berkshire Garden Center. In 1947, held first yearly show in school in auditorium which provided spaciousness and airiness – shows have shown considerable improvement in technique and staging. Many of our members have contributed arrangements to neighboring shows and several have taken judging courses. Among speakers heard at local meetings or by invitation to other clubs have been Mrs. Wm. Stickles, Mrs. Henry Staley, Montague Free, Mrs. John Lynch, Mrs. F. Palmer Hart, Mary Lamson, Mrs. Cochran Cole, James Leath, Mr. and Mrs. Thornton, Mrs. Walter Schrieber, Mrs. Dodson, Mrs. Stelle, Mrs. R. Bowerhan, Ralph Waterman, Patrick McKenna, Paul Winslow, Mrs. W.R. Wood, Mrs. E. Hewes and many others.
1950 we had the first Easter plant sale, which has netted the club its largest yearly income.
1950 a very important event – 20 members visited and were entertained at the Natural History Museum in New York when they viewed the Warburg Memorial Hall which is a land description of this area – a large, permanent beautiful instructive exhibit that has brought much interest to this locality. 1951 saw a Christmas show, instead of the annual flower show, which was very interesting and well done.
Those serving as presidents of the club have been: Mrs. Aroh, Mrs. Ralph Knickerbocker, Mrs. Ruth Moore, Miss Cora Pulver (6 years), Mrs. A. Matragrano, Mrs. R. Palmatier, Mrs. Thomas LeBrun, Mrs. Theodore Coy, Mrs. W.W. Bostwick, Mrs. Bonisteel, Mrs. B.E. David, Mrs. Ralph Bowman, Mrs. O. Jauncey and for 1953, Mrs. Albert Friedman.