It was a gorgeous fall day on Sunday, Oct. 16 as 110 Wilton Garden Club members and spouses gathered at the Ambler Farm Carriage Barn to celebrate the Club’s 101-year anniversary. The Club was founded in 1921, but COVID got in the way of a centennial celebration in 2021.
A delayed anniversary? No problem. Members were more than ready to finally celebrate. Some mingled inside enjoying the historical slideshow produced by current club Vice President Andrea O’Meara. Others spent time outside playing Cornhole and Giant Jenga.
Sounds of easy jazz were in the air as noted musicians from SpringLight Entertainment made the trip up from New York City to play tunes from the American Songbook, bossa nova, and even some Brubeck favorites, providing a perfect vibe for the day. Local Sand Wedge Catering provided a delicious supper for the group.
Members reminisced about the Club’s origin when Florence Gotthold moved to Wilton. She was a passionate gardener and artist who decided the town definitely needed a garden club and she made it happen. On Oct. 17, 1921 at the Wilton Library a constitution was put in place and voted on to form the club. Early members included those with surnames like Middlebrook, Schenck, and Comstock that are familiar to Wilton even today. Although only a new and burgeoning garden club, it held its first Flower and Vegetable Show in September 1922, at the end of its first year. There were 24 exhibits. In its second year, there were 38 exhibits — and the Club kept growing.
The Club’s history is packed with notable milestones. Members are responsible for saving Old Town Hall from being demolished in the early 1930s. Built in 1832 and located at 69 Ridgefield Rd., it has become an in-demand venue for many types of gatherings from receptions to lectures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is now owned by the town of Wilton and the Club is the caretaker and rental agent for the building.
Moving on in history, and of special note, in 1986 Club members’ fundraising efforts made possible the construction of the 800-square-foot fully automated Greenhouse at the Comstock Community Center on School Road. This is where many of the plants sold at the annual Mother’s Day Plant sale are grown and where horticultural workshops are often held for Club members.
Today’s Wilton Garden Club is comprised of over 100 women and men of all ages and from all walks of life. Whether it be maintaining the town’s five public gardens, educating the local teens on gardening at Trackside Teen Center, working in the conservation arena to promote the Pollinator Pathway and protect the environment, founding Wilton’s Golden Miles (daffodil beautification initiative), or providing workshops for seniors, today’s members are proud of what the Club has accomplished in the last 101 years and they foresee an even brighter future ahead.