The Garden Club of Downers Grove was founded on February 28, 1927, by a group of women who were members of the Downers Grove Women's Club. A constitution and bylaws were established, and dues were set at $1.00 per year. Officers and committee chairmen were elected with Mrs. M. L. Puffer as the first President and Mrs. H. M. Lyman as Wildflower and Conservation Chairman. The objectives set then remain the same today -- namely, to advance interest in gardening, support conservation efforts, further city beautification, and fund scholarships.
Many of the committees established in 1927 are still active, although some of the names have changed: Civic Development (formerly Wayside and Parkways), Horticulture (formerly Flower Exchange), Garden Therapy (formerly Plant, Fruit, and Flower Guild), Conservation, Environmental Education, and Arbor Day (formerly Wildflower and Conservation), Flower Show, and Program. Additional committees include Awards and Special Exhibits, House and Hospitality, and Scholarship.
In the early years, general meetings were held in members' homes. As membership grew, they were held in local churches, Hummer Park Field House, the Morton Arboretum, and even a firehouse. From1985-2018, meetings were held at Lincoln Center in downtown Downers Grove. In January 2019, due to increasing membership and the need for more space, we moved to Faith United Methodist Church at 59th and Fairview in Downers Grove. When the Coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, we were unable to hold meetings. We have since moved to our new location, American Legion Post 80 at 1000 Saratoga Avenue in Downers Grove. At each meeting, the Horticulture Chairman presents gardening tips and shares plants with members, the Conservation and Environmental Education Chairmen report on current issues and provide information about attracting birds and butterflies to the garden, planting and preserving wildflowers, conserving water, composting, etc. A guest speaker presents a gardening-related program. Refreshments are served with an opportunity for members and guests to socialize.
The club has hosted 24 award-winning Flower Shows since 1960, the latest on July 8, 2017, to celebrate the club's 90th anniversary. The purpose of a Standard Flower Show is to educate club members and the viewing public, to stimulate interest in horticulture and floral design, to provide an outlet for creative expression, and to convey to the community the objectives of National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC). The show must conform to the standards established by NGC and must be judged by a panel/s of NGC-approved judges.
Originally, the club held many small fundraisers in a given year. In November 1968, the club held its first major fundraiser, which became an annual event. It was held in a local church and consisted of a luncheon and floral design program. The food was prepared and served by club members using the church kitchen. In 1971, baked goods and a white elephant sale were added. In 1983, the event was moved to the Carlisle in Lombard where it has remained. Today the fundraiser, "A Festive Touch," consists of a luncheon, a floral design program, raffle, goodies table, treasures table, and boutique tables (crafts, needlework and fresh arrangements...all the handiwork of club members and friends). Attendance has grown to over 400 guests. Proceeds help support the club's programs, scholarships, and community projects throughout the year. The event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic but returned in 2022.
The Garden Club of Downers Grove is a charter member of National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC), Central Region, and a charter member of The Garden Clubs of Illinois, Inc. (GCI), District II. Club members have been very active in the work of NGC and GCI, including several who have held positions on the National, Regional, State, and District boards. A number of club members are nationally accredited Landscape Design Consultants, Gardening Consultants, and Environmental Consultants. The club is the recipient of many National, Regional, State, and District awards.