Garden tours celebrate 100th anniversary

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MANCHESTER — The Garden Club of Manchester 100th Anniversary Garden Tour will take place Aug 15-16.

Tours are scheduled for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The club began garden tours in 1936 and has continued to offer them in alternating years ever since.

The Garden Club of Manchester was founded in 1920 by a group of 10 women meeting for the first time in the Burr and Burton gymnasium June 10. At that time, they elected Alice Fox as president, Florence Taylor as secretary and Anita Bliss as treasurer.

On June 24, the bylaws were adopted. The first flower show took place Aug. 19, and the new club grew to 87 regular members, plus 10 men as associates, by October of 1920.

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Civic beautification was a primary effort of the club from its early years.

In 1924, Mrs. Eliot of the Civic Committee urged members to beautify Adams Park at Manchester Depot. Dusty highways and pig pens along the road were pressing concerns. Today, Garden Club of Manchester's Civic Beautification Program includes litter pick-up along the club's designated area on River Road in Manchester, as well as planting and maintaining baskets, boxes, planters and the town greens in Manchester and Dorset during the summer months. Decorated wreaths are donated to local municipal buildings and churches during the holidays.

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Flower shows have also been a joint effort of the club. The first show in August of 1920 included 40 exhibits and was attended by 500 people. Local artist Luigi Lucioni did the backdrop for the 1935 flower show at Burr and Burton using a water wheel as a theme. Membership had increased to 172. The 1937 flower show at Equinox House featured Gov. George D. Aiken surrounded by flower girls in Gainsborough-style garden hats and dresses to mark the founding of the Federated Garden Clubs of Vermont with 10 charter members, now 18 clubs statewide.

Gov. Aiken said, "people who have gardens are always good citizens."

In 1941, admission was charged to the Victory Garden Show to fund wartime projects to aid the Red Cross and USO and after the war, flowers and services for veterans at White River Junction Hospital.

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The Garden Club of Manchester continues to thrive in fulfilling its mission to promote love for, interest in and knowledge of horticulture.

This year, the two-day tour includes 10 gardens — eight private gardens in Manchester and Dorset, as well as the Southern Vermont Arts Center Boswell Trail and the gardens at Hildene.

Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 on the day of the tours.

Tickets and information are available online at www.gardenclubofmanchester.com or on Facebook at GardenClubOfManchester. Tickets may also be purchased until Aug. 11 at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester (credit cards accepted) and H.N. Williams Store in Dorset (cash or check only).

Face masks and social distancing are required, and all current CDC and town safety guidelines will be in place.


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