Last month's Conservation Corner presented the meadows at Irwin Park and how they offer a unique habitat in our wooded suburban town. The meadows at Irwin are full of perennial and annual wildflowers, vines, shrubs and mature trees which are home to bees, butterflies, birds, reptiles and mammals. The display featured late summer and fall blooming plants and how they benefit wildlife.
The Garden Club of New Canaan was established soon after Miss Alice Driggs burst into the living room of her friend, Mrs. George Frank, exclaiming "Louise, there ought to be a botany class or a garden club here in New Canaan!" With six other women they founded the Garden Club of New Canaan in 1909. It was the third garden club to be organized in the United States.
Although the Club originally had members from many towns in Fairfield County and New York State, in 1923 it voted to limit membership to 150 members with preference given to New Canaan residents.
The mission of the Club is “to stimulate the love of gardening among its members and the members of the community, to promote conservation and to encourage civic planning and beautification”.
In 1920 the Club became a member of the Garden Club of America which led to involvement in national issues relating to conservation and the environment.
The Club’s first Civic Project was the planting of two maple trees in front of the newly built New Canaan Town Hall in 1909. Over the years the Club has maintained its commitment to civic beautification by landscaping road triangles; organizing a roadside clean-up which eventually became the “Clean Your Mile” campaign; planting trees in Mead Park, on God’s Acre, Elm Street and at various schools; and researching and restoring the Historical Society Herb Garden as well as the Waveny Park Walled Garden and The Peony Walk at Waveny. In 2000 the Club’s Millennium Project was the restoration and renovation of the Bristow Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Preserve. In 2003 when the town bought Irwin Park, the Club agreed to beautify and protect the environmental integrity of the park with plantings and hardscape. The Club is also committed to arranging flowers and providing Horticultural Therapy at Waveny Care Center as well as to joining the New Canaan Beautification League in decorating the downtown area for the holidays.
In 2005, 2008 and 2013 the club organized and presented “New Canaan in Bloom”, a weekend flower show with club member’s arrangements staged in store windows for the benefit of the entire community.
Conservation efforts have included tree sales, educational exhibits at our Flower Shows; scholarships for teachers and students in the field of nature study and conservation; creating an educational packet called “The World Around Us” which was distributed throughout the country; horticultural education in the New Canaan Public Schools; seed and plant exchanges and the donation of books related to horticulture and conservation to the New Canaan Library.