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Club Chronicles: Garden Club of Alabama celebrates 89 years

April 28, 1932, at the Jefferson Davis Hotel in Montgomery, 71 delegates representing 50 Alabama Garden Clubs met and organized the Alabama Federation of Garden Clubs.

The name was changed to The Garden Club of Alabama in 1935, and the group became incorporated in 1954.

The Garden Club of Alabama Inc. is an affiliate of the Deep South Region of the National Garden Clubs Inc.

Over the years this organization has made many contributions to the state of Alabama. The GCA helps beautify and preserve our natural resources in our state and communities.

In 1941 a Garden School on Flower Show Exhibiting and Judging, sponsored by GCA and the Alabama Extension Service, was held at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University.

The Garden Club of Alabama won national recognition in 1942 by promoting Victory Garden Harvest Shows to help meet emergency needs of the armed forces and their families. A total of $1,730.19 was sent to the Army and Navy Relief Funds.

This same year, the first issue of the GCA Bulletin “Hortensia,” which means “lady gardener,” was published.

In 1943, $2,500 was raised by contributions from clubs to purchase an ambulance that was presented to the Red Cross for service overseas.

In 1944, in cooperation with the National Council of Garden Clubs, Highway 31 in Alabama was designated as the Blue Star Memorial Highway, honoring veterans who lost their lives in service.

When the Wayside Parks System was established in Alabama in 1948, much credit was given to The Garden Club of Alabama.

The Garden Club of Alabama initiated the Christmas lighting program, Every Light a Prayer for Peace, Dec. 1, 1951, in Selma. This ceremony gained attention from the National Council and is now observed by Garden Clubs throughout the nation

The first Horticulture Scholarship was established in 1954. It was an annual gift of $250 awarded to a freshman student at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and $4,000 was raised to endow the fund.

Today, six scholarships are awarded: four in horticulture, one in forestry and one in landscape architecture. Scholarships are funded from State Life Memberships and donations.

Also in 1954, the Garden of Memory on the Auburn campus was completed and dedicated as a Living Memorial.

This year the Russellville Cultura Garden Club celebrates 70 years of affiliation with the Garden Club of Alabama Inc. In addition to supporting the GCA, Cultura Garden Club has sponsored numerous community improvement projects.

Some of these include: downtown beautification, school nature trails, tree planting, birdhouses for parks, anti-litter campaigns, scholarships, Flower Show Exhibits, Every Light a Prayer for Peace ceremonies and Junior Gardeners.

May the legacy continue on!