• Organized in 1922, Member of the Garden Club of Virginia since 1924

  • Prepared for the 86th Annual GCV Meeting May 9-11, 2006 By Betsy Gilmer Tremain

    Thanks to several Albemarle Garden Club members, a second area garden club, the Rivanna Garden Club, was born Nov. 16, 1922 and admitted to The Garden Club of VA (GCV) two years later.  Twenty five years afterwards, Rivanna spearheaded creation of the Charlottesville Garden Club.  
    What have we done to enhance this community in our 83 year history?? The answers are not necessarily in either chronological order or order of importance. Regularly we have sent children to camps we help support: Nature Camp at Vesuvius and the ARC Camp at Panorama Farm . Albemarle, Rivanna, and Charlottesville, lent their initials to this project and also gave the Wildlife Center their first station wagon dubbed "The ARC".

    Concentrating originally on the City, we planted across from Lee Park at the McIntire Public Library, now home to the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society, a quiet oasis referred to as a "Garden of Peace". Cooperating with development of the downtown mall, Rivanna participated in its beautification, contributing trees and colorful flower boxes. Later we planted a rose and herb garden at the entrance to City Hall.

    With other local Garden Clubs, we enhanced the historic Albemarle County Courthouse grounds as well as planting at the Ronald McDonald House, Rescue Squad Building, Darden Towe Park and placing Christmas wreaths at public buildings. Additionally Rivanna provided the Westhaven project with plants and a lovely entrance,  hosted parties, included Christmas plants for the elderly at Comyn Hall, and for the Boys and Girls Attention Home. We planted evergreens around the Lewis and Clark statue, the Court House, the Blue Ridge Club on Market Street, and at city schools; temporarily saved the Tarleton Oak; added dogwoods to private homes and  along Jefferson Park Avenue. When the Peoples National Bank offered a prize in 1959 for the best planting design at its Emmett Street branch, our member, Mrs. Harry L. Smith, Jr., won the $100 award which she gave to the Vesuvius Nature Camp. 

    At "Ash Lawn"/ "Highlands", home of President James Monroe from 1793-1823, we built a typical period well-head, surrounding it with an herb garden. Since Rivanna tended the garden as well as an 110' perennial bed and the overseer's cottage, this involved many members. The Thomas Jefferson Parkway was created to provide a walking path from the lower intersection of Routes 20 and 53 to the Monticello entrance. To this endeavor, our members contributed money for a "children's room" with a collection of trees, plants, and benches that appeal to children. As "the flower lady" for Monticello, member Dawn Woltz produced period arrangements for over 14 years, beginning c.1973. During that time she also published a lovely book, "Flowers Grown and Shown at Monticello".

    1967 marked the dedication at St. Anne's School of the Susie Badger Kilham Garden in memory of a former President of Rivanna.  When Routes 29 and 250 Bypasses were carved out of undeveloped green space, Rivanna provided trees.

    After a devastating hurricane destroyed numerous trees at Miller School, we formulated a plan, applied for and won the Common Wealth award. Thanks to the boost of the Common Wealth award in 1987, Rivanna established an arboretum at Miller School, which not only replaced some lost trees but is an ongoing project. Our second Common Wealth award was granted to landscape the Ivy Creek Natural Area Education Building.

    First undertaken in 1928 with lovely, carefully tended estates being opened for the last week in April, Historic Garden Week provides funds to restore historic gardens throughout VA.  Locally, the University of Virginia and Monticello are beneficiaries. In 1950 Rivanna added the Friendly Gardens to the local tour.  These gardens are smaller, of manageable size, and lovingly nurtured and maintained by the owners. Having faculty wives among our members led to opening the Lawn Pavilions at UVA as well as Carr's Hill, the UVA President's home. Albemarle, Charlottesville, and Rivanna Garden Clubs collaborate on Garden Week and function well together.

    After the 47th Annual GCV Meeting, hosted by Rivanna in 1966, Mrs. James McKeldin Smith of Staunton wrote a nostalgic letter saying she had accepted the GCV Presidency when Rivanna hosted the 10th Annual Meeting in 1928. Rivanna took its turn for the 65th Annual Meeting in 1985 with the Boars Head Inn as headquarters.  I introduced Thomas Jefferson as portrayed by his descendant Rob Coles.   When Albemarle hosted the 1934 meeting, Rivanna entertained at tea at Mrs. Frederick Twyman's home. Garden Gossip, the forerunner of the Journal, noted, "that year, the flowers were almost the equivalent of a flower show". In 1942 we were responsible for the 24th Annual Meeting which wasn’t held because the Office of Defense Transportation limited travel to meetings. Being war time, we concentrated on Victory Gardens. For the 51st Annual Meeting hosted by the Charlottesville Garden Club in 1971, Rivanna invited attendees to a party at my home for which our members furnished 22 beautiful flower arrangements as well as beautiful food. It was a good time to be Rivanna's President.

    In 50 delightful years with the Rivanna Garden Club I've known and admired many wonderful ladies and am indeed pleased to share a synopsis of those years with you who comprise the current GCV. I would like to acknowledge our two Massie Medal recipients, Dawn Woltz and Jean Printz (also a past president of the GCV); our two deLacy Gray honorees, Elizabeth Nolting and Fran Boninti; as well as our ten Horticulture Award recipients.  I thank each and every member for their gracious and generous contributions to our club. You have given the Rivanna Garden Club every right to be proud!