THE EARLY BEGINNING OF THE MONTVILLE GARDEN CLUB
In 1890 the first garden club in America was organized in Athens, Georgia . The club’s motto was:
“Gardening makes for good health and aching backs. It “makes for growing friendships, for broadening our
viewpoints and for developing an understanding of nature--birds, bees and flowers.”
The first gathering of the Montville Garden Club, called the Lake Valhalla Garden Club at that time, took place at a Tea held at the home of Mrs. Mae Higgins. The Club was organized on that Tuesday afternoon, May 15, 1945. All the ladies present lived in the Lake Valhalla section on Montville. There were fifteen present: Mrs. Millie Bjerregaard, Miss Forshay, Mrs. Minnie Rowe, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Beach, Mrs. Roche, Mrs. Higgins, Mrs. Terwilliger, Mrs. Weeden, Mrs. Yonkers, Mrs. Treiber, Mrs. Showel, Mrs. Salisbury, Miss Greenaway, Miss Rost, Mrs. Reynolds, and Mrs William H. Mason.
Mrs. Mason took charge of the meeting. A Slate of Officers was presented to the group and accepted:
President: Mrs. Mason
V-President: Mrs. Reynolds
Secretary: Miss Greenaway
Treasurer: Miss Rost
The name of the club was chosen, the purpose stated, the dues set, and future meetings to be held at members’ houses in alphabetical order.
1. The name chosen was The Lake Valhalla Garden Club.
2. The purpose was to deepen appreciation of flowers, shrubbery, trees; to sti_QluJate an interest in gardening; and to learn how to cultivate gardens and also learn about birds and bird protection.
3. The time for the monthly meeting was set for the first Tuesday of each month at 2 30 P.M.
4. The place of meetings was set to be at the home of each member consecutively as the names appear on the list of club members.
5. The dues were set at 25 cents each month, payable to the treasurer at each meeting.
The first official meeting of the Lake Valhalla Garden Club was held at the home of Mrs. Yonkers on June 6th , 1945. Mrs. Mason, President, appointed a committee to draw up a Constitution and by-laws of the club. Chairmen were appointed, new members were voted in. Programs were set up for the upcoming months.
Below are some important facts the followed in the beginning formation years: In March, 1947, it was decided that the warmer season meetings were to be held in the Clubhouse with the cooperation of Tom Capstick.(owner of the club at that time) Miss Roe was in charge of decorating the Clubhouse. In October of 1947 a motion was passed by the membership to make the regular monthly meeting
on the third Tuesday of each month, except July, at 8 P.M. In September of 1949, the final meeting was held at the Lake Valhalla clubhouse. After that it was decided that all subsequent meetings would be held at homes of members. In 1950 a decision was made that the Treasurer be empowered to send flowers for funerals of members. In 1953 the meeting was opened by prayer. Miss Roe presented a prayer which subsequently opened all meetings after that:
Our Lord God, we thank Thee for this day.Help us to be true to ourselves,
to our neighbors, and to Thee. Help us to be loyal to our duty in all the rules of life, and to
live in pursuit of beauty, goodness and truth .
The purpose of the club:
To render any service possible to the community; to deepen appreciation of flowers, trees, shrubbery, ferns, etc., to stimulate interest in gardens and gardening ; to study garden cultivation and arrangement; to study birds and bird protection.
MONTVILLE GARDEN CLUB IN THE FIFTIES
There is very unique story behind the acquiring of the President’s gavel , which is used at each meeting. It was made from a walnut railing taken from an old house that was razed to make room for the new Montville School on Change Bridge Road. Mr. R. Emmett Roche arranged to have a friend make the gavel and it was presented to Mrs. Billie Roche (his wife) when she took office as President of the Lake Valhalla Garden Club in 1953.
In 1957 the membership of the garden club dwindled down to 7 or 8 members attending the regular monthly
meetings. Mrs. Merkt, Secretary and Nominating Committee Chairman , stated: “Before I read the slate of officers, I do want to mention that it was indeed a very difficult task to handle this year. Out of 32 garden Club members, we found there were about 21 who for various reasons could not hold office. This left 11 names to be called upon of which 4 are at present in office, leaving 7.” Mrs. Merkt was able to draft the following slate:
President: Mrs. Dahlberg
V-President: Mrs. Weber
Secretary Mrs. Merkt
A special meeting of the club was called by the new President, Mrs. Dahlberg. 26 members were present. Mrs. Dahlberg needed to determine whether the club would be dissolved or whether through hard work in the ensuing year, the club could make a go of it; and everyone needed to get involved. There was a unanimous response in the affrirmative and many suggestions were made
The President summed up the discussions and stated “We must revise our whole policy .” This is exactly what was done. Board meetings were called every month to line up the monthly meetings so that each one would be interesting, instructive and informative. The members really started coming out and the meetings averaged 25 or more members at each monthly meeting. A telephone squad was fo rmed which proved very helpful. It was agreed to hold all evening meetings at the homes of members instead of at the club house. The hard working efforts of officers, Mrs. Ruth Baker, Mrs. Myrtle Baker, and Mrs. Burkhart all contributed to the success of the club surviving after the almost “fall” of the Lake Valhalla Garden Club. During the next two years the membership rose from 32 to 46 members, thanks to the hard work of
Membership chairman , Mrs. Ruth Baker.
In the early years of the garden club, small flower shows were held on week days at the club house or at members’ homes. Usually they were held in the spring or fall . The shows in the early fifties were for L.V. Garden Club members only and usually held at the club house. The judging was done by members admiring and inspecting the lovely arrangements and the winners were chosen by popular accl aim. The various classes included arrangements in gift packages, in natural containers such as shells, bone, a stump, etc. or another category was an arrangement in a kitchen utensil. Miniatures (between 3 inches and not exceeding 6 inches) , containers such as window boxes or baskets, were also included. These shows were usually held on a regular monthly meeting day.
Flower Shows were held annually usually at the Club House. In the early fifties all residents of Lake Valhalla were invited to also participate in the flower shows. There would be classes for garden club members only and classes for members and residents of Lake Valhalla. attached are copies of a 1952 Flower Show program, 1953 program, and 1955 program.
In 1958 a different kind of Flower Show was held. Mr. Peter Burkhart, a chariman of the fall flower show, opened up her home on Glenwood Drive for this beautiful exhibition on November 18th. Every room in the house was designated as exhibit area, including the kitchen . Fifty-five entries were shown by thirty-five Lake Valhalla residents, most of them active members of the garden club. For many, this was a first time for exhibiting, but the amateur was not apparent among the displays. Workshops had been held during the previous month of October in preparation for the upcoming flower show. The workshops were taught by Mrs. Burkhart and the results were successful. The arrangements were beautiful and the show was a huge success. What made this show different was the combination of residents who were not garden club members entering arrangements in floral design alongside garden club members’ arrangements. No awards or ribbons were presented but a very well- known flower arranger, Mrs. DE Loeber, of the Demarest Garden Club, acted as commentator for this unique exhibition. Mrs. Loeber explained that an arrangement, simple or complex, to be beautiful should not only be authentically assembled according to certain age old formulae, but must be carefully placed in the correct spot for that particular piece For that reason , she claimed , a show such as th is one offered greater opportunity for a display of ingenuity than the usual flower show offering restricted classes
and types of competition .
MONTVILLE GARDEN CLUB IN THE SIXTIES
The club continued to hold annual flower shows and in September of 1963 the event was called “Invitation to the Dance” and the classes in the Artistic Design Division were called: Cotillion, Kabuki, Hawaiian Hula, Tango, Ballet in White, Irish Jig, Twist, Minuet, Square Dance, Polka, and Waltz. The show was open to all amateurs. An amateur is a novice who has never won a blue ribbon. The classes in the Horticulture Division were open to the public. All flowers and vegetables must have been in possession of the exhibitor for at least three months and must have been grown by the exhibitor. There were several sections in this division: Annuals, Bulbs, Perennials and Shrubs, House Plants and Fruits and Vegetables. There was also a Junior Division for both artistic design and horticulture. There was a special exhibit done by the Dens 4 and 5 of the Cub Scout Pack 74 of Montville. Ribbons were awarded at this show and it was held at the Lake Valhalla Club House with special thanks to Mrs. Thomas Capstick and Mr. Robert Kerr who donated the use of the club house for the show. (It was still privately owned at this time .) Special invitations for entrance were sent to other Garden Clubs in the area to represent their own clubs in the Flower Show.
The monthly meetings were still held in members’ homes. In 1963 the Lake Valhalla Garden Club became a provisional member of the Garden Club of New Jersey. At Christmastime a party was held and the annual gift-wrapping contest was held with prizes given on all the gifts for patients at the Morris View Nursing Home. In the sixties, the annual judging contest for the home Christmas decorations in Lake Valhalla section of Montville was being done with prizes awarded for first, second and third place for the loveliest seasonal outdoor decorations . It was always done on December 26 by three members of the Garden Club.
In 1964 a new fund-raising event was held in the springtime: a Fashion Show. The Fashion Show was held at the Rockaway River Country Club on Tuesday evening, March 3. Dessert and beverages were served and models were members of the Garden Club. All the clothing came from the Shirley Shops of Boonton and Dover. Hairstyles were done by Salon 42 of Morristown and floral design was done by Marvel Florist of Denville. Tickets were sold for the fashion show and it was a huge success.
In 1966, Mrs. Tor Ranvig, president of the club, reminded members about the purpose of the club. This was even written in the by-laws: “The object of this organization shall be, to do whatever possible in the way of improving the gardens and grounds in the Lake Valhalla section; to render any service possible to the community; to deepen appreciation of flowers, trees, shrubbery, ferns, etc; to stimulate interest in gardens and gardening; to study garden cultivation and arrangement; to study birds and bird protection.” The Montville Garden Club of 2015 probably agrees with all these words but now it is extended to all parts of Montville, or whatever community a member of the club may live in.
LVGC in the Seventies Until Now
One of the highlights of 1970 was the 25th Anniversary Dinner Dance held at the Lake Valhalla Club on March 14. The cost was $20 a couple and there was dinner at eight and dancing from nine til one.
During the seventies, meetings continued to be held at the homes of members, many fund raising events were held and the money earned was donated to good causes. In April, 1973 a Home Decoratmg Clinic was held at the LV Club. All the funds raised that day donated for Landscaping at the Central school. In 1974 a plant sale was held just before Mother’s Day and all the funds raised were given to the committee for the Preservations of Northern Montville.
In May of 1974 a 35th anniversary luncheon was held at the Wedgewood Inn in Morristown. The cost was $4.50 a person. The coices were: Chef’s Salad, Chicken Crepes, or Fillet of Sole Almondine. The appetizer was fruitcup.
As the years went by, the garden club continued. The monthly meetings were usually held at the homes of members, flower shows although not annually, were held in members’ homes or other public places in Montville Township such as the library or the recreation center on Change Bridge Road. Then a change took place. When Barbara Aiello was president (1993-1996) the membership was declining so Barbara had a wonderful idea. Instead of meeting in members’ homes, why not meet in a public building so the meetings could be advertised in the local newspapers? It was decided that the meetings would be moved to the Senior House. It was also decided at that time to change the name of the club to the MontvilleNalhalla Garden Club.
Another major project was accomplished in the late nineties: The Memorial Garden was created at the Montville Township Library. The designer of the garden was Stephen Cezajski. Mr. Cezajski is a 1996 graduate of Montville Township High School. The garden in maintained by the Montville Garden Club. The Memorial Garden is a peaceful garden, comprised of native plantings with year-round visual interest. Visitors can enjoy the setting sun over the distant hills. On the walkway are pavers engraved with names the persons to be remembered. The Memorial Garden was dedicated on September 21 , 1999.
The meetings were moved to the Montville Township Library on Horseneck Road when Evelyn Hoops was president (1998-2000). About ten years later, the monthly meetings were moved back to the Senior House where they are presently held (2015). Because many members live throughout Montville Township or in surrounding communities, in 2012 the name of the club was changed to the Garden Club of Montville.
The purpose and objectives of The Garden Club of Montville are :
To render any service possible to the community; to deepen the appreciation and protection of all horticulture, especially conservation of native plants; study garden cultivation and the beauty of floral arrangements; to stimulate interest in gardens and gardening; study birds, and bird and other wildlife protection; to cooperate, as a member, with the objectives, policies and recommendations of the Garden Club of New Jersey, Inc. which is affiliated with the National Garden Clubs, Inc.
The Garden Club on Montville continues giving back to the community by maintaining the “Memorial Perennial Garden” at the Montville Township Public Library, which the garden club installed. The G. C. of M, in conjunction with Rutgers University, installed a Rain Garden at the library. Rain gardens capture rain water and help reduce storm water pollution and protect local streams. The G.C.of M. also added large planters at the front of the Montville Township Senior House as well as a newly planted bed near the entrance. The garden club also places Seasonal Wreaths on the doors of the Montville Township Public Library, the Montville Museum and the Doremus House.
The biggest Fund raiser for the last ten years has been the annual Floral Design demonstration with food and a Tricky Tray. The money raised is used to give financial support to the Kiwanis Food Pantry, the Raptor Trust, the Morris County Master Gardeners Horticultural Enrichment Program, the Montville Animal Shelter, Frelinghuysen Arboretum, the Beth Fisher Garden, GCNJ “Train a Teacher to Teach a Child” and a college Scholarship to a high school student who will major in agriculture or a garden related subject.
The Garden Club of Montville is a member of : Garden Club of N.J.; N.J. Botanical Garden/ Skylands Association; Frelinghuysen Arboretum; Land Conservancy of N.J. and the N.J. Audubon Society.
MONTVILLE/ VALHALLA GARDEN
CLUB PAST PRESIDENTS
1945 - 1946 Madeline Mason *
1947 - 1948 Edith Treiber
1948 - 1949 Mae Higgins *
1949 - 1950 Mimi Anderson *
1951 - 1952 Pat Forshay
1953 - 1954 Billie Roche *
1955 - 1956 Alsamene Jorgensen *
1956 - 1957 Edythe Jaeger *
1958 - 1959 Barbara Dahlberg *
1960 - 1962 Ruth Baker
1962 - 1963 Pat Morel *
1963 - 1964 Pat Harlow
1965 - 1967 Lyn Ranvig
1967 - 1968 Helen Thomson *
1969 - 1970 Carol Main
1971 - 1972 Betty Adler
1973 - 1975 Jane Ring Jacobs &
1975 - 1977 Dot Kirkman *
1977 - 1979 Betty Hurst
1979 - 1981 Mary Ellen Karl
1981 - 1982 Harriet Cates
1982 - 1984 Gladys Fischer
1984 - 1986 Beth Fischer *
1986 - 1988 Ann Anderson
1989 - 1991 Nancy Hollasch
1991 - 1993 Pat Shane
1993 - 1996 Barbara Aiello
1996 - 1998 Jeanette Faehner
1998 - 2000 Evelyn Hoops
2000 - 2001 Linda Dlugolecki
2001 - 2003 Carolyn Hoops Karback
2003 - 2005 Jennifer Richardson
2005 - 2007 Barbara Conklin
2007 - 2009 Evelyn Hoops
2009 - 2011 Carla Schan
2011 - 2014 Carla Schan
2015 - 2016 Deborah Graf
2017 - Eleanor Weissenrieder
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