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The Long Beach Garden Club was organized in 1936 by our first President, Francis Wilson. We intended to promote an interest in amateur gardening on all levels and encourage conservation. During our 80+ years our club has made numerous contributions to the beautification of the city of Long Beach as well as to the preservation of our natural resources in California.
A contest was begun in 1940 giving a prize to the most beautiful front yard in the city, but the contest was interrupted by World War II. It was then that we began to promote “The Victory Gardens”. Members guided and encouraged residents of the city to grow food for their families. The club also planted Jacaranda trees on 14th Street between Pacific Avenue and Long Beach Blvd. We also provided and landscaped an area for the WAC’s stationed at our local air base.
During the 1950’s members provided many programs including horticulture, flower-arranging, conservation, bird watching, etc. We worked actively campaigning against the erection of bill-boards and littering, and helped in the development of roadside rest areas and their beautification.
In the 1960’s the club cooperated with the Long Beach Hobby Council by manning a booth with exhibits of potted plants, cut flowers, and demonstrations of flower-arranging. We took up the Penny Pines program, a state program that provides for the reforestation of our national forests within California. We were most actively involved in the newly established South Coast Botanic Garden which was the only garden created on a trash dump.
In the 1970’s members participated in the Fifth World Orchid Congress held in the new Long Beach Arena. The Long Beach Beautification Committee was formed and club members assisted in this project until it was disbanded. At the end of the 70’s we were involved in the beginning of a garden on the campus of California State University at Long Beach. Along with members of Costa Verde District, of which our club is a member, we turned over the first shovels of dirt. The club also staged the first Standard Flower Show aboard the Queen Mary in conjunction with the Long Beach Heart Association. We became involved in helping the Meals on Wheels program by providing tray favors of a small plant for patients on holidays and birthdays at the Long Beach General Hospital.
The 1980’s found the membership still very active and several award-winning flower shows were produced, one at the Unitarian Church and another at the Market Place. Members continued to support the Penny Pines program with the purchase of a plantation every year. The World Gardening Project had taken on new meaning because of the inclusion of hunger in the U.S. Commemorative stamps were collected to aid the Nature Conservancy with its Baldwin Lake Preserve to save the bald eagle. Since the club’s beginning we had planted approximately 27 trees in and around Long Beach Recreation Park. In June of 1986 the members dedicated a Blue Star By-way marker on the grounds of the Long Beach VA Medical Center. The marker was the first in the nation to be placed on VA property.
During the 1990’s the club continued to encourage all members to keep up on our re-cycling program as part of our conservation efforts. We planted all the trees in front of the office and down the side of St. Gregory’s Church. We also planted a Cactus garden in the church’s parking lot. Seven trees were planted at El Dorado Park in and around the lake area as well as two Weeping Willow trees in another section of the park. One of the highlights of these years was touring the Japanese Garden on the campus of Cal State University, where we had previously turned over the first shovels of dirt in the 1970’s.
Now we have reached a new century. We continued with our tree plantings in El Dorado Park to celebrate Arbor Day. In 2009, at the request of the park, we started their California Oak Grove.
We continue to encourage new members to join and learn all aspects of gardening, flower-arranging, and to learn about our bird population as well as conservation efforts at our monthly meetings.