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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
For decades, the Westwood Garden Club has been a place of friendship, kindness, and a bit of adventure, centered around the idea of making the world a bit more beautiful. On Thursday, December 12, current members of the club came together at First Parish to celebrate their 90th anniversary.
The Westwood Garden Club meets once a month, usually on the fourth Thursday. This year, the fourth Thursday falls directly after Christmas. With so many members traveling, it made more sense to host the 90th anniversary celebration earlier.
Guests arriving at the party were pleasantly surprised by the collection of pictures around the room, in frames, collaged on boards, and in thick photo albums. Each collection was filled with pictures of past silver tea services, luncheons, gardening endeavors, and trips the club had taken. The tables were decorated with poinsettia center pieces, perfect for the club’s festive party.
In 1928, a movement was sweeping the nation in the name of beautification and modernization of homes. According to a history provided by members Mary Jo Hood and Marcie Grokulsky, Mrs. Edwin Dodge stated: “If better homes, why not better gardens?” By 1929, 44 members chartered the Westwood Garden Club.
The purpose of the club was quickly established: “The Purpose of the Club shall be to encourage and assist members in the care of their gardens, to promote the exchange of information and ideas in regard to gardening, and to further the knowledge of horticulture, to aid in the protection of native trees, plants and birds, and to develop a spirit that shall lead to the improvement of grounds and gardens of our community.” The Garden Club has continued to promote this message through its 90 years.
Since its founding, the Garden Club has strived to make the Westwood community a better place. During the Great Depression, the club taught residents how to plant thrift gardens, providing them with fresh vegetables and a renewable food source. During World War II, members helped plant Victory Gardens and shared their harvest with community members.
Former president Mary Jo Hood joined the club shortly after moving to Westwood. “I was not a gardener, and I thought they could give me some helpful information and get to know women who were gardeners,” she recalled. Like other members, Hood found the Garden Club a place where she made many friends and learned everything there was to know about gardening. Hood noted how she still has plants in her garden from when she first joined.
Jackie Mason joined the garden club after she had also moved to Westwood. “I was very nervous was when I was applying to be a new member because I was from the city,” she said. With three acres of land, Jackie needed to find something to do with it. After landscaping the yard, Mason planted one plot of vegetables. “It wasn’t just flower arranging,” she observed.
Members enjoyed a delicious lunch and a phenomenal cake as they bonded over stories of the club. Each member had their picture taken and took a moment to write a message in a notebook circulating around the room. Their picture will be added later on. Former presidents took a group shot together as a way to remember the day. “We’ve all gotten older, but our friendship hasn’t changed,” said one member with a smile.
Through the years, the Garden Club has continued to do the work they set out to do nine decades ago. But at their 90th anniversary, these hardworking working women were able to take a moment to rest and recall all of their accomplishments.