By Christy Womack
The Little Gardens Club celebrated their 80th anniversary on October 7 at Stones River Country Club with current members and guests including the daughters of former members who came together for some delicious cake and finger foods, as well as an entertaining slide show of photographs from throughout their history. Hillary Borders of the Rutherford County Archives assisted with the slide show and scrapbook displays.
The Little Gardens Club was organized in 1936 with the first meeting at the home of Ms. David Goldstein with 44 charter members present. In the early years, the Club was a member of the County Council of Garden Clubs and the Tennessee and National Federation of Garden Clubs. At one time, the County Council was made up of eight clubs in Rutherford County. During that first year, there was a flower show committee and a garden tour along with exhibits being judged at each month’s meeting. One year the Little Gardens Club was commended for having the best flower show in Tennessee.
The club name was Little Gardens Club because the member’s gardens were small. Monthly programs concerned gardening, arranging, civic improvements, and making homes and lawns more beautiful, and sharing the blessings of nature.
In 1969, the club received a letter thanking them for the colorful flower boxes at Linebaugh Library every summer. They affectionately refer to this as “the horse trough.” A former club member, Elizabeth Kerr Hay, after moving to New York City, donated money annually in memory of her mother, Ms. B. B. Kerr. The money was used for the flowers planted at Linebaugh Library.
In 1964, the club began a garden therapy project at the Veterans Administration Hospital. Weekly, a few members visited the wards and placed flowers in the rooms of the handicapped. Bird study, planting and plant identification, care of a garden and how to arrange flowers were part of this therapy for the residents.
Names of some of the members who were especially active were Ms. Brockman Sanders, Virginia Woodfin, Marie and Orvalina Maples, Rebecca Jones, Ms. Tommy Martin, Bertha Chrietzberg, Ms. James Fletcher, Ms. Elizabeth Jackson, Fran Brandon, Cleon Dixon, and Alice Penuel.
The club sponsored annual antique shows at Hobgood School for several years to aid Oaklands Mansion. The club helped with the Iris Show in its early years as well. Jackson and Perkins donated 48 rose plants to be grown by the club as a testing ground. Isa Lee Freeman was the Rosarian and sent reports on the progress to the company.
Throughout the years, Little Gardens Club has remained a strong sisterhood of women who eagerly serve our community civically. In the more recent years, Little Gardens Club continues to support many local organizations: The Hope Center for Women, Murfreesboro/Rutherford County Food Bank and The FisherHouse on the Alvin C. York Campus. Little Gardens Club meets monthly at Stones River Country Club. Members assign themselves to a particular month to serve as hostess. Each month carries a theme. The meetings give each member an opportunity to share their gardens and to learn a wide range of gardening techniques. A visiting judge assesses each entry, and ribbons are awarded for excellence in individual classifications. The hostess procures a speaker to deliver a program on garden related topics. Each month members participate in an exchange to recycle garden magazines and literature. They also enjoy a flower and seed swap. This allows the opportunity to share in each other’s gardens. A “brag board” is provided so each member can bring photos of that perfect bloom that always seem to take place between meetings.
The Little Gardens Club isa proud sisterhood of women with a passion for horticulture and a spirit of servitude to the community. Congratulations Little Gardens Club on your 80 years!