The Rutland Garden Club was founded in 1914. At a time in history when women hadn’t yet won the right to vote, Beth Gilchrist called 21 friends together and in her parlor created a “committee for the stimulation of garden interest.”
The women met monthly in one another’s homes and gardens, invited speakers to their meetings – some of them well noted in the country - and exchanged gardening ideas. They initiated a summer plant sale and in 1915 held their first flower show. Both activities continue to this day.
On the national level not long after that, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Director of the Women's Land Army of America, mobilized women to harvest crops and produce food during World War I as men left to fight overseas. She later leveraged their role in the war to win voting rights for women. That's a poster of the movement on the right.
Keen to promote the idea of gardening and conservation, it wasn’t long before Rutland Garden Club members' influence was felt beyond their own social group and into the community. In 1919 the Club advised the Rutland mayor on the purchasing of trees for the Main Street Park. The following year it paid for shrubs to be planted there.
Since 1937, when it created the Civic Improvement Committee, the Rutland Garden Club has been devoted to furthering city beautification. Over the years, it has designed and maintained plantings at various locations throughout the city, as well as supported “flowers and services” at the Veterans Hospital in White River Junction, provided floral arrangements and holiday decorations at the Chaffee Art Center. The Club has also helped establish gardens at two Habitat for Humanity homes.
Today, the efforts of the Rutland Garden Club are visible throughout our city beginning with the “Welcome” signs downtown. Effectively working with the City Parks and Recreation Department and the Downtown Partnership helped us the gain national recognition for the container plantings which brighten the downtown area from late spring through the foliage season. In addition, the Club maintains nineteen municipal gardens in the area, as well as a Blue Star Memorial on Woodstock Avenue and the Front of the Chaffee Arts Center. A complete list of our garden projects can be found on the “Projects” tab.
From the early days of white-gloved, genteel ladies meeting in parlors and gardens to today’s active gardening in pink tee shirts and garden gloves , the Rutland Garden Club continues to stimulate interest in gardening and the cultivation of beauty in our environment.