The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood
A Proud History
By Roberta Svarre
In 2005, The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood (also referred to as, “The Women Gardeners” or “the Club”) celebrated its 80th year of operation. The organization owes its name to the fact that a “Garden Club of Ridgewood” was organized in 1914, but its membership was restricted to men. Resentment at this exclusion motivated a group of dedicated women to form “The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood” under the leadership of Mrs. C.W. Stockton in 1925. The club had twenty members and was a charter member of The Garden Club of New Jersey when it was organized. No record of the men’s club remains.
During the Depression years of 1932-33, The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood was unable to pay dues to the state organization and instead became part of the Garden Department of the Women’s Club of Ridgewood. That relationship continued until 1945, when membership in The Garden Club of New Jersey was reinstated.
Some of the longest continuing members of The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood remember serving as joint Hospitality Chairmen. Since the club met in member’s homes, part of the position included hauling borrowed chairs from Van Emburgh’s Funeral Home to the home of the meeting hostess and back.
The Club has a long tradition of community service. For many years members would travel to the Veteran’s Hospital in East Orange, where they would decorate the day rooms and chapel and make tray arrangements.
That tradition continues on the local level today. The Women Gardeners designed and maintain the plantings at the Ridgewood Public Library and provides weekly flower arrangements for the library lobby. The Club designed the garden for the Share house for elderly residents on Prospect Street and supported the garden at the Children’s Services and Family Counseling building.
The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood also provides tray favors for Meals on Wheels during the holiday season and makes centerpieces for the fundraising activities of various local charities. The Club has participated in the showhouse at Skylands Manor, considered an exhibition opportunity for area garden clubs.
The Club is proud of its most recent addition, a Junior Program, “Green Kids” which was started September 2007. Designed for children Grades 3 through 6, this program meets monthly to explore and discover nature, science, gardening, art, birding, weather, recycling, environment and our senses.
As part of its public education efforts, The Women Gardeners present semi-annual Garden Education Day featuring major speakers, workshops and/or boutiques.
The activities of the club are supported by a semi-annual garden tour called “SECRET GARDENS OF RIDGEWOOD.” Begun as part of Ridgewood’s centennial celebration in 1994, Secret Gardens of Ridgewood has become one of New Jersey’s premier garden tours, with visitors coming from all over the metropolitan region. More than 800 visitors toured the gardens in 2008.
A full list of Club Projects can be seen by selecting the “Projects” tab on this website.