ARLINGTON HEIGHTS GARDEN CLUB
FOUNDED IN 1955 TO PROMOTE GARDENING
In 1955, the Arlington Heights Garden Club was founded by Mrs. Irene Lisec for the purpose of “Promoting the love of gardening, to cultivate a spirit of beauty in the home grounds, to encourage the study of horticulture, to promote civic beautification and to help in the conservation of wild flowers and bird life.” Since there was no club of this kind in the village, its charter members planned a place where gardeners and flower arrangers could discuss their gardening problems and give advice to fellow gardeners.
Membership was open to men and women, a procedure different from the customary organization of this type, and composed of residents from the surrounding communities. Meetings were held on the fourth Monday of each month at Pioneer Park Field House at 8 pm, the only exception being December when the regular meeting was supplanted by a Christmas workshop held early in December. Instructions were given in making wreaths and flower arrangements for the Arl. Hts. Memorial Library, Village Hall, Park District field houses, and Northwest Community Hospital.
Other activities covered by the dues were monthly flower arranging workshops, the main purpose of which was instruction for the annual flower show, a Garden Clubs of Illinois membership and a subscription to Garden Glories, a bi-monthly magazine from the Garden Club of Illinois. Discount prices also were available for garden tools, fertilizer and other flower arranging and garden supplies.
The primary fund raising project was the annual flower show. The show would consist of artistic flower arrangements, table settings and a horticultural division. Each had a section for juniors from the age of 6-10 and from 10-16 years old. Competition in the artistic division was restricted to members of garden clubs in Arl. Ht. or other cities but a horticulture division was open to all. There was a sale of spring crocus, tulip and daffodil bulbs. Another fundraising project was a plant sale held in the spring.
In an effort to help in the beautification of the Village, the Garden Club planted window boxes at the Chicago and North Western Railway Station and worked with other clubs in planting evergreens and shrubs at Northwest Community Hospital and annuals at the entrance driveway. At Christmas the club participated in decorating the Village at by putting wreaths on several municipal buildings and decorations on the ‘ Welcome to Arlington Heights’ signs at the village limits.
In 1961, 25 club members worked with the Arlington Heights Beautification Council to landscape the area on the north side of the railroad tracks. Gilbert Krohn was one of the founding members of the Council and club president from 1964-66 where he continued to beautify the land along the railroad tracks. In 1971 the club honored him with the Krohn Memorial Stone at Highland Avenue and Northwest Highway. With the expansion of the highway the stone was moved to the grounds of the Arlington Heights Historical Museum in 2018. The gardens at the Museum were initially planted and cared for by Thom Kraak and Kathy Hendricksen by planting daffodil bulbs. Gardens were enhanced with an irrigation system funded by the club and installed with cooperation from the Village and Park District. Several trees were planted on the grounds in honor of Arbor Day. The club continues to maintain the grounds to this day by Kathy Wolan and her club volunteers.
Over the years the club has donated gardening books to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, provided flowers to the information desk and each December designed and decorated a holiday tree. Josephine Perez has coordinated this project and extended it to holiday trees at the Village Hall and the Senior Center.
For many years Dolores and Lois Jahnke chaired a committee to design and decorate a Christmas tree at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Members of the club also worked with the Village in setting up rules and acting as judges in a contest for ‘Best Landscaped Gardens’ in Arlington Heights.
In 1999, a Garden Club committee chaired by Thom Kraak and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Special Events committee worked with a Missouri grower to create red day lily with a yellow-green throat. It was the most popular item sold for the Millennium Committee with 3000 red Arlington Heights Millennium Daylilies bagged and delivered by the club to residents.
Recent civic projects have been to; celebrate Earth Day at chosen schools in Arl. Hts., numerous Boy & Girl Scout environmental projects, plantings at the American Legion, Post Office, and Memorial Day Parade participation. In 2016 the club resurrected a spring plant sale of perennials donated by club members that are sold on the first Saturday of the Arl. Hts. Farmers Market.
For many years the club held garden walks that were only attended by members. Yeanne Markham was president in 2000 and we started our Annual Garden Walk and Unique Boutique featuring local gardens and garden vendors that was open to the public. In 2019 we will be sponsoring our 18th Garden Walk. Each year (except for 2013) it grows in popularity with the proceeds used to sponsor scholarships for horticulture students. (https://www.ahgardenclub.com/scholarships ) To this day $32,000 in scholarship money has been given to qualifying students. Proceeds are also used to fund other non profits and community projects.
We have had the honor of one of our past presidents, Fran Koenen, become president of the Garden Clubs of Illinois, 1981-1983. Our more recent honors and awards include the 2002 award of Environmental Excellence for Arlington Heights; 2003 Beautification Heart of Gold Award; 2004 Community Service Award Arlington Heights Park District; 2004 Gift of a Clock from the Arl. Hts. Historical Society; 2018 Beautification Heart of Gold Award to club member Kathy Wolan.
As we move into our 65th year please join us to enjoy the knowledgeable speakers, free gardening advice and good friendship. We meet on the fourth Monday of each month; September to May at the Village Hall. During the summer we meet informally in various members gardens. See you there!