When friends Jean Merz and Ginny Gingras made plans for their retirement from teaching, their first priority was to start a local garden club. Less than 6 months later, on April 27, 2000, the initial meeting of the Vernon Garden Club (VGC) was held. Eighteen enthusiastic gardeners, recruited largely by word of mouth, attended that organizational meeting and became charter members.
The first year of the VGC was exceptionally rewarding. A cadre of extraordinarily hardworking officers and committees prompted success. The membership grew rapidly (63 by year’s end) and meetings were well attended. Despite a limited budget, programs were diverse and stimulating. The club sponsored a number of garden tours, and members continue to enjoy visiting local gardens, growing new friendships, and sharing good times. An extremely successful Spring Plant Sale that first year, and every year following, gives a yearly boost to the treasury, and allows local gardeners to share in the bounty of our gardens.
The second anniversary of the Garden Club was held in April 2002, with the unveiling of our first community garden, The Garden on the Green, located at the junction of Routes 30 and 83 in Vernon. After a year of discussion, planning and community fund-raising for the garden, our vision came to fruition. A large, shabby area was transformed into a colorful 4-season perennial garden. Located at a busy intersection, the garden serves as a welcoming gateway to our town. Maintaining the project has been a shared endeavor. Club members regularly schedule time to weed, deadhead, compost, fertilize, and prune. Initially the town’s volunteer fire department watered the site, which lacked a water source. In late summer of 2016, Vernon Public Works Department connected a spigot to our garden! This is a wonderful testament to the appreciation the Club enjoys by the town residents.
Within weeks of opening the gateway garden, the VGC’s novice Herb Garden Group christened their new kitchen herb garden located at historic Valley Falls Farm, on Valley Falls Road. Lacking funds to create a new garden space, they creatively rehabilitated a large, unused cold-frame for the project. By the end of the season, members had concocted many lovely and useful items including dill and garlic vinegars, dried sage and oregano, lavender sachets, and a recipe book filled with herb dishes members brought to the pot-luck suppers that they frequently share.
In 2005, members of the “Civic Improvement Committee” created a Jr Gardeners’ Program for third grade students at Lake Street School which has been very successful and is continued today. A highlight of that program is the “Butterfly Garden” there, planned, planted and maintained by the students in the program with help from VGC members.
In 2006, the club planted and dedicated a second community garden that we call the “Northeast Gateway Garden,” at the corner of Route 30 and Grove St in the Rockville section of Vernon.
In 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, the Club hosted a spectacular summer Garden Tours, “Garden Reflections,” which recognized and rejoiced the many talented local gardeners and their stunning gardens.
On June 21, 2010, our members celebrated our 10th Anniversary at the annual club picnic and installation of officers. Jean Hopkins put together a wonderful booklet entitled “A Dedicated Decade” extolling the many contributions that the club and its members have made to our community.
In July of 2016, and again in 2019, the group entertained members with a “Dessert in the Garden.” The “Herb Group” is very active, and now plants in second and third cold-frames.