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The Early Years ~ 1931-1956

1931 – 1936

During the first five years, the GCFM sponsored a Roadside Beautification Meeting at York, the first flower show judging course, the first institute at the University of Maine for Beautification of Maine Roadsides, and the first state-wide GCFM Flower Show in Danish Village which won NGC’s purple ribbon award.  Other achievements of this period were the tentative division of the GCFM into districts, support of legislation for taxing billboards, a three-day flower show judging course, prize winning exhibits sent to Florida, California, and New York, the first teachers sent to Audubon Camp in Maine by member clubs, the first GCFM Yearbook, and the adoption of the GCFM emblem.


1936 – 1941

The Executive Board Meeting at Portland was visited by NGC officers, the Director of the North Atlantic Region, and five New England presidents.  The GCFM affiliated with the Women’s Legislative Council of Maine, sponsored Wildlife Restoration Week, and published six thousand Nature Conservation Week booklets for each school classroom in Maine.  The GCFM saved the O.O. Nylander lifetime collection of minerals, orchids, and other flowers of Aroostook for Maine and promoted building of Nylander Museum at Caribou. A short course in gardening was held at University of Maine.  Three legislative bills supported by GCFM were: control of billboards and advertising along highways by requiring license and permit fees; prohibiting display of caged wild animals along highways without permit; and prohibiting removal of Mountain Laurel from habitats. GCFM was presented with a gavel made from an apple tree from the Sir William Phipps ancestral home at Woolwich. GCFM entered NGC’s Medal Award Contest for Cleaner Roadside Stands and Filling Stations and held a third Exhibitors and Judges Flower Show Course. GCFM voted to oppose a congressional bill to make Mt. Katahdin a National Park, “It is a Maine Mountain and should ever remain a State Park, unspoiled by commercial exploitation.” GCFM Regions (now Districts) were organized with definite boundaries and given names of their rivers. The first five years’ scrapbook was assembled by Mrs. Garcelon and presented to GCFM President Mrs. Woods.  A five-year daffodil growing project was started with most of Clubs enrolled. NGC’s Fall Board Meeting was held at Camden, October 1937, by invitation of our GCFM. New England Wildflower Preservation Society published Maine List for Conservation of Wildflowers, assisted by GCFM Conservation Chairman Mrs. Burton L. Preston. GCFM affiliated with American Planning and Civic Association, National Roadside Council, and National Audubon Society. Historical and Memorial Gardens Project was started to promote compilation of early historic plantings and planting of memorials. The Mid-Year Conference was held in Senate Chamber, January 21, 1938. The GCFM Collect was adopted. A GCFM weekly news column was started in the Portland Sunday Telegram.  A Second short course in gardening was given at University of Maine; also, GCFM sponsored pilgrimages to Aroostook areas and to Mt. Desert Island.  In May 1939, Mrs. Fred S. Woods of Portland was elected NER Director.  Garden clubs donated 24 different kinds of trees to Knox Arboretum at Thomaston. A Friends Hedge of white lilacs was planted at the Blaine House, home of Maine’s governors, May 1939, by Kennebec Valley Garden Club for the GCFM.


1941 – 1946

The GCFM and member clubs participated in statewide projects during World War II period: War Emergency and Defense, Victory Gardens, Food Conservation, Women’s Emergency Farm Service, and Veterans’ Rehabilitation. GCFM’s Hospital Horticultural Service to Veterans’ Hospitals was organized in 1943 although nearby clubs had been working with hospitalized veterans at Togus and Kittery-Portsmouth Hospitals for several years. Christmas greens for veterans’ hospitals was started statewide. GCFM approved the action of the Maine Turnpike Authority to eliminate or reduce all unsightly signs for advertising, merchandising, and establishments bordering on the proposed new highway. The third annual Short Course in Gardening was held at University of Maine. The Blue Star Memorial Highway, promoted in tribute to men and women of World Wars I and II, was designated in Maine by GCFM as Route 1 from Fort Kent to Kittery, 546 miles, and memorialized by the Maine Legislature. Plantings and Blue Star Memorial Markers were placed, nine from 1950 to 1959. GCFM saved Capitol Park from encroachment of federal and state buildings.


1946 – 1951

The first Accredited Flower Show Judging School with a nationally accredited lecturer was held in 1946. The first Garden Federation Day for Farm and Home Week guests was held at University of Maine. GCFM’s second yearbook was published. GCFM sent seeds to Britain and Seeds for Peace. Garden Clubs made a statewide Elm Tree census for State Forestry Service. GCFM contributed $100 to the NGC project to preserve a Redwood Grove in California. A second Accredited Flower Show Judging School was held in 1947. The Lilac Living Memorial at Togus was started by GCFM in 1949, directed by Mrs. Edward F. Merrill; the planting of 2000 purple and white lilacs around the new forty-acre National Cemetery, with a background of white pines, continued as project for ten years and was taken over by the U.S. Government on July 12, 1957. GCFM contributed Mrs. Ellery Wing’s chapter “Early Gardening in the District of Maine” to Early American Garden Traditions, a book compiled by NGC President Mrs. Elvenia B. Slosson. GCFM held State Park Days throughout Maine. “More Roadside Picnic Areas,” a bill sponsored by the GCFM Roadside Improvement Committee, was passed. GCFM’s Plant Conservation List for Maine was voted the official list, June 1951, following commendation by the State Legislature. GCFM entertained NER at Poland Springs in 1950. GCFM’s first scholarships were given to Audubon Camp. U.S. Navy Achievement Certificate was awarded the GCFM.


1951 – 1956

GCFM continued support of legislation for control of billboards, auto dumps, and pollution of rivers and waters. Courses III, IV, and V for Flower Show Schools were given. Nature Trails in state parks were established and marked by Garden Clubs at Presque Isle, Reid Park, Sebago, and Mt. Blue. GCFM sponsored Litterbug and Keep Maine Green projects in keeping with NGC. Honored with Life Memberships in NGC were:  Mrs. A.R. Benedict, 1939, from Garden Club Friends; Mrs. Edward F. Merrill, 1945, from GCFM; Mrs. William E. Wing, 1948, from Longfellow Garden Club; and Mrs. William O. Armitage, 1955, as personal contribution to membership drive. The 250th scholarship recipient was sent to Audubon Camp by individual garden and nature clubs. Donations were made to the Permanent Home Fund, many memorial trees planted, tree farms started near schools by garden clubs, preservation of Natural Resources promoted; GCFM voted to urge establishment of State Department of Conservation, worked for increased appropriations for State House Park and Forestry Department, and saved the State House southern lawn from destruction as parking area. Judges Council was organized. NGC Awards and Citations went to Mrs. William E. Wing for starting the project of Historical and Memorial Gardens which was adopted by NGC; to Mrs. Edward F. Merrill for the Lilac Memorial Hedge at Togus; and to Mrs. John W. Corning for lifetime work for protection of birds.


Mid-Century Growth ~ 1956-1971

1956 – 1961

Courses I, II, II, Series II, Flower Show Schools, were given. The GCFM Newsletter was revived with Mrs. Harrie B. Coe again editor. The Silver Anniversary was celebrated June 1956, with a 25th Anniversary Yearbook. Funds were contributed for a landscaped area of the Girls’ New Dormitory, University of Maine, in appreciation of University’s interest in our GCFM. GCFM entertained NER at Poland Springs, 1956. Augusta Nature Club initiated re-establishment of the State House Museum. Through strong support by GCFM, the restoration bill was introduced and passed in 1957; the restored museum was dedicated March 15, 1961, with GCFM President Mrs. Socec as one of the principal speakers. Member clubs worked diligently to assist in Dutch Elm Disease control. Over 2000 flowering crabapple trees were planted by garden clubs and individuals in the first year of new statewide project. GCFM sponsored “Seeds to Gardens to Flower Show” by veterans at Togus for the third successive year. GCFM influence was credited with passage of a bill in 1959 to control billboards on the new interstate highway for two years. During the 1961 legislature GCFM worked equally as hard for bill for permanent control. GCFM promoted many projects for “Friendship through Gardening” and “World Gardening.” Financial grants from Sears-Roebuck made possible a Civic Beautification Contest for all clubs in 1960 – 1961. Organized in 1957, the Maine Conservation School at Bryant Pond received more than 60 scholarships and aid from the GCFM and member clubs. NGC Awards and Citations received by the GCFM were for the 100% contribution to the Permanent Home and for sponsoring the greatest number of Junior Clubs (69 Senior Clubs – 134 Junior Clubs). The GCFM received citations from the Veterans Administration for hospital service. Sixty-nine clubs with 4454 members and 152 Junior Clubs with 2500 members held sixty summer flower shows, open house and garden days, 12 winter shows, and the first two Junior Standard Flower Shows in 1960. NGC gave awards to member clubs for flower shows, home and garden tours, civic projects, conservation education, and a sanctuary. Mrs. Socec’s legacy to the GCFM was publication of the first Handbook in 1961, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the GCFM. Mrs. Edmund M. Socec was elected NER Director of NGC in May 1961.


1961 – 1963

Mrs. Daniel R. Mann, the GCFM’s 17th President, reorganized the list of GCFM Chairmen, incorporating Roadside Development under Civic Development. Hospital Service was designated as Garden Therapy, Military and Civilian. Mrs. Mann instituted printed reports by all Officers, District Chairmen, and Committee Chairmen for distribution at the Annual Meetings. Mrs. Mann was appointed by Governor Reed to the “Keep Maine Scenic Committee” and subsequently became its Recording Secretary. “Operation Pink Cloud” was started under the auspices of the Civic Development Committee of the Kittery Garden Club and received the Sears, Roebuck & Company Award. This is a continuing project. She was appointed a member of NGC Nominating Committee and received a NGC Award for the Litter Coloring Contest. Mrs. Mann participated in the dedications of the Mariner’s Memorial Park at Deer Isle and Zorach Fountain in Bath, both of which were projects of local clubs. Mrs. Mann’s legacy to the GCFM was a NGC Board of Directors pin to be passed on to each incoming President. She is the author of “Mosses, the Flowerless Ones.”


1963 – 1965

Mrs. Bernard F. Harris chose “Unity” as the theme of her administration. During this term Junior Nature Awards were initiated. The Brookton Memorial School Bell, dedicated to Unorganized Territory Schools, was located on the State House grounds with shrubbery plantings provided by the GCFM. Tri-Town Garden Club became Maine’s first 100% subscriber to The National Gardener. A film entitled “Heritage of Splendor” was purchased for the use of the Keep Maine Scenic Committee. A donation was made toward plantings around the Permanent Home in St. Louis in honor of past NER Director Mrs. Edmund M. Socec. The GCFM supported legislation providing for a State Cemetery for veterans and further supported conservation plans for the Allagash region. A copy of the music to accompany the Gardener’s Collect was presented to the GCFM by the composer, Mrs. Orrin Dolley. Mrs. Bertha Welch, retiring Publicity Chairman, was honored at the Fall Conference for her many years of dedication to the GCFM. A Blue Star Memorial Highway marker was dedicated in Thomaston at the foot of Knox Mansion Hill. GCFM had three active High School Gardener groups and 32 Junior Clubs. During a post-convention tour to Nova Scotia, Maine became the first GCFM to visit a foreign affiliate. Mrs. Harris’ legacy was a Traveling Trophy for Horticultural Achievement to be awarded to the club in the GCFM having accomplished the most notable work in horticulture during the preceding two years. The trophy was first awarded in 1965 at the Annual Meeting in Bar Harbor, the winner the Foreside Garden Club of Falmouth.


1965 – 1967

Mrs. James G. Utterback’s theme was “Live, Learn, and Grow,” her project Beautification of Rural Mailboxes. The Advantages of Being Affiliated with the Garden Club (GCFM) of Maine was prepared and distributed. Mrs. Utterback was a panelist on the Governor’s Conference on Natural Beauty in 1966. The NGC Silver Seal was awarded to Senator Edmund S. Muskie at NGC’s Annual Convention in 1967 for his “Constant and Meritorious Work on Support of Pollution Control Legislation.” The GCFM voted $1000 to be used for landscaping at the proposed “Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery,” with the provision that special attention be given to the Meditation Center. The GCFM had the privilege of entertaining Mrs. Lucile Mauntel, NGC President, at their 35th Annual Convention in Portland. The Green Handbook was revised and brought up to date. Representative Ethel B. Baker sponsored a Resolve establishing Route 1-A, starting at the junction of Routes 1-A and 1 at Stockton Springs and extending via Bangor and Brewer to the junction of Routes 1-A and 1 in Ellsworth, to be designated as a Blue Star Memorial Highway. Two Blue Star Markers were added, bringing the total to 12; one at Glen Cove, presented by the local club, and the other at Dorothea Dix Park in Hampden by Mrs. Utterback as her legacy to the GCFM.


1967 – 1969

Mrs. Laurence C. Andrew’s theme was “Come, Let us Garden Together.” A Guide to Conserving Wildflowers of Maine, project of GCFM in cooperation with the Josselyn Botanical Society, was published by the State Department of Education. GCFM received a NGC award for the newly compiled Junior Gardener’s Handbook. A Citation from “Keep Maine Scenic Committee” to the “Litter Lady of Maine” recognized outstanding service of GCFM Anti-Litter Chairman Mrs. Henry C. Kerber. Committee Day was inaugurated. GCFM took a strong stand against proposed plans of the “Capitol Planning Commission” to locate office buildings and a restaurant in Capitol Park in Augusta.

The plan was abandoned, and an alternate plan placed proposed structures outside the park. The Newsletter was enlarged to a twelve-page publication. GCFM was instrumental in the passage of “An Act Relating to Outdoor Advertising.” The GCFM lost two past Presidents: Mrs. John Parker and Mrs. E. Stewart Orbeton, and its good friend Edward Johnson, State Horticulturist and Chairman of Horticulture for GCFM. A NGC Scholarship of $1000 was awarded a senior at the University of Maine for post-graduate study in wildlife management. Mrs. Andrew’s legacy to the GCFM was a silver pin of the GCFM seal to be passed on to each incoming President. Mrs. Andrew was elected NER Director in May 1969.


1969 – 1971

Mrs. James L. Pettit, adopting the theme, “Conserve, Preserve, Deserve!”, stressed Environmental Improvement at all meetings. GCFM supported passage of the Highrise Billboard Legislation of 1971. The NER Meeting was held at Ogunquit in 1969 and the NER Symposium at Portland in 1970.  Cumberland Garden Club received the third highest NGC Award for the Sears’ Civic Beautification Program. “People and their Environment,” a NGC project to place teacher curriculum guides in every school, was adopted. The first project of the newly authorized Ways and Means Committee was preparation of tiles bearing the GCFM Seal. A Blue Star Memorial Highway marker was dedicated at Newcastle, 1969. Mrs. Maxwell Steel, NGC Acting President, attended the Bangor Convention, June 1970, where a check for $1000 was presented to Maine Veterans Service. The area surrounding Brookton School Bell on State Capitol grounds was re-landscaped as GCFM’s project for Maine’s Sesquicentennial. There was an increase in the number of judges, flower shows, and garden tours. The Visiting Gardens and Speakers Lists were revised and distributed. An imaginative Junior Gardening concept won TLC’s of Camden a NGC Award. GCFM’s 40th birthday was held in Bar Harbor, June 1971, with Mrs. William Hedley, Third Vice-President of NGC, in attendance. Endorsement was given to co-host 1974 National Convention at Boston. Mrs. Pettit was appointed Assistant Chairman for Maine by Mrs. Norman G. Collard, Convention Chairman. Mrs. Pettit’s legacy to GCFM was an American flag dedicated and presented at the 1971 June Convention. Mrs. Pettit was elected as NER Director 1975 – 1977.


The ’70s & ’80s ~ Expansion of Clubs, Programs, & Advocacy Efforts

1971 – 1973

Mrs. Stephanie A. Smith adopted the theme “Today’s Beautification is Tomorrow’s Heritage.” Publishing of the Newsletter, perfected through direct mailing to all members, means it is now a working tool of GCFM. A special Maine Legislature Resolve designated U.S. 2 and State 3 as Blue Star Memorial Highways, adding 365.4 miles, totaling 952; five new markers were placed. Sixty-nine rare trees from Arnold Arboretum in Boston commemorated their Centennial. The first State Flower Show in 40 years was held in conjunction with the 41st Annual Meeting, Westbrook College.  Mrs. Maxwell W. Steel, NGC President, presented 1972 NGC awards: Lucile Droege Mauntel Conservation Certificate; Blue Rosette; and Purple Rosette. The first NER Silver Traveling Trophy (The National Gardener) was received in 1972. Winter Harbor and Tri-Town were 100% Clubs. The Bernice Kerber Award for Litter-Control, GCFM Conservation Award, and Stephanie Ann Smith Garden Therapy-Civilian Award were established. There were nineteen newly organized Junior Clubs, one at the Passamaquoddy Indian School. Four hundred sixty-one PATE volumes were distributed with St. Croix placing guides in each of its 98 schools. The second edition of the GCFM Handbook was distributed at 1973 Bethel Convention. In 1971 Flower Show School Course V concluded the GCFM-sponsored series. Saco District sponsored Course I, May 1973. A new garden club was organized in Milbridge. 1973 NGC Awards included: Junior Gardeners Morrah Horticulture Achievement; Junior Conservation Certificate, and Garden Therapy Certificate. Mrs. Smith was elected a member of NGC Nominating Committee 1973-75 and Chairman of the 1974 NGC Post Convention New England Tour. Mrs. Smith’s legacy was the silver tray Garden Therapy Trophy.


1973 – 1974

Mrs. Philip V. Corey (Lillian) chose as her theme “Keep Maine Beautiful.” In 1973, Courses I and II of the Flower Show School, sponsored by the Saco District, were held at Cape Elizabeth. Course III followed in April 1974. The GCFM sponsored a lecture on flower arranging by George W. Smith, one of the foremost flower arrangers from England. In February 1974, 296 miles on routes 257 and 201 were designated Blue Star Memorial Highways, and markers were dedicated at Skowhegan, Newport, Hallowell, and East Millinocket. The GCFM joined the NER as co-host for the NGC Convention held in Boston, MA, May 1974. At the Convention the Maine Forest Council and the Bangor Garden Club were responsible for fifty gavel sets presented to the top Officers of all the State Federations, as a gift from Maine. Mrs. Corey appointed the first Landscape Design and Historic Preservation Chairmen to the GCFM, and thirty new Junior Garden Clubs were formed. New garden clubs were organized at Eastbrook and Walnut Hill. The Bangor Airport Clinic, a garden therapy program under the sponsorship of the Bangor and Sebasticook Garden Clubs, was started. In 1974 National Award 14 (4), State Publication Certificate of Merit, was received for the GCFM Handbook.


1974 – 1975

Mrs. Philip C. (Lori) Spinney’s theme: “Let Us Grow – In Knowledge, In Membership, In Friendship and In Our Gardens.” A Blue Star Marker purchased by the Danforth Garden Club was dedicated at Weston on Route 1, July 7, 1974. In September, Course IV of the Flower Show School was held in the Saco District. “History, Heritage, & Horticulture” was the theme for a State Flower Show held at the Maine Mall in Portland, earning $1000 for the GCFM bank balance. The NGC project “People and Their Environment” was completed in the St. Croix District, with all appropriate volumes presented to each of the 98 schools. The Garden Therapy project, the Bangor Airport Clinic, continued under the sponsorship of the Bangor and Sebasticook Garden Clubs. NGC Awards for 1974 included: #1-A, Kellogg Medal for Civic Achievement to the Bar Harbor Garden Club for the “Wild Gardens of Acadia” within Acadia National Park; #6-1A Mauntel Conservation Certificate to the Augusta Nature Club for the Augusta Nature Center; and #49, Elsie M. Cook Landscape Design Award to Longfellow Garden Club for the Sculpture Garden at Portland School of Art. Mrs. Spinney’s legacy was the first contribution to the GCFM’s Horticulture Scholarship Fund.


1975 – 1977

Mrs. Drew Miller (Clee) used as her theme “Our Goals are Great – PARTICIPATE.” The Nation’s Bicentennial celebration occurred during this term. GCFM PARTICIPATION therein included presentation of two crystal compotes, designed exclusively for NGC, one to the Maine State Museum, one to Governor James Longley and a red oak in the Veteran’s Cemetery in Augusta. In January 1976, a State Life Membership was instituted, monies from which are to be used entirely for funding of the GCFM scholarship to be given annually to a Maine junior, senior, or graduate student majoring in horticulture. NGC sponsored an Environmental Workshop at Evergreen Valley, September 1975. Dues were increased to $1 per member in June 1977. The first Landscape Design Study Course was offered in Maine in 1976, Course II held in 1977. The NER Symposium was held in Portland in July 1976, and a combined Fall Conference and NER meeting was held, attended by NGC President Mrs. Vernon Conner. Seven NGC Awards were received by GCFM for 1975-77, most notable being an individual award for Mrs. Roland Salsbury and a $500 Sears Civic Concern Award for the Mt. Blue Garden Club. GCFM PARTICIPATED effectively in helping pass Maine’s Returnable Container Bill in 1976. Mrs. Miller’s legacy was a contribution to the GCFM Scholarship Fund.


1977 – 1979

Mrs. Harry M. Sloan (Reba) chose as her theme, “Our futures are more important than ourselves.” The completion of the first series of Landscape Design Study Courses in Maine; the establishment of a Landscape Design Critics Council which sponsored these schools; the successful passage of Returnable Bottle Legislation; the Billboard Removal Program; all were accomplished during this administration. The first annual scholarship was awarded in 1978 and a deserving recipient chosen for 1979. We shared in the Environmental Protection Agency for Land Preservation Award given to the NER. Maine acquired 1400 acres of Great Wass Island. We have vigorously supported the viewpoint of former Governor Longley regarding Dickey Lincoln. “We do not have the right in this generation to commit our valuable wilderness to a project that will only temporarily stimulate the economy.” This President urged a re-evaluation of our former policies and attempted to streamline board meetings, dispensing with non-essentials. She said, “We must be ever aware of the dignity of the office, and that our members are individual adults who give freely of their time and talents. Let us not expect nor approve duplication in wasteful paperwork. Let us all strive to make service to the GCFM the joyous privilege I have found it to be.” Her legacy was the establishment of an annual contribution to the Reba D. Sloan Adult Education Fund: a fund of voluntary contributions to help finance the costly Flower Show Schools and Landscape Design Study Courses. We must lead into the future, the gardeners, flower arrangers, horticulturists, and landscapers who are needed to keep our world beautiful and healthy.


1979 – 1981

Mrs. Jerome C. Goff (Nell) used the theme: “GET GROWING!” Membership was 4170: 63 Clubs. St.  Croix Valley Garden Club became federated.  GCFM participated in NGC’s Energy, Environment, Education which prompted “Save A Kilowatt” and “Share the Way” contests. Family camping workshops were initiated at Allagash, site of Proposed Dickey-Lincoln Dam and at the Great Heath. In the “Save the Eagle” project, commemorative stamps were collected, and eagle design stationery sold. One acre was purchased for the Eagle Valley Environmentalists’ Sanctuary. Landscape Design Critics Council sponsored two LD schools. 350 flowering crabs were planted under “Operation Pink Cloud.” The GCFM hosted the NER Symposium and a Holiday Tea at Blaine Mansion. A scholarship of $500 was awarded. $1400 was contributed to World Gardening. Five Blue Star Memorial Highway Markers were repaired or replaced; one from St. Croix District was presented to the VA for the Belgrade Cemetery access road. The Newsletter was reorganized. GCFM participated in the first NER Flower Show at Worcester, MA and in the NGC Exhibition 50, Washington, DC. NGC awards received included: Sears Environmental Leadership Medal; Red and Green Rosette and Purple Rosettes for flower shows; Garden Club of the Air Award; Plant Anniversary Trees; Smokey Bear Senior Special; and Mauntel Certificate for Conservation. Fall Conferences were held at Calumet Club, Augusta. Annual Conventions were held at Sebasco Estates, 1980; in 1981, the 50th Anniversary Meeting at Bangor featured a sketch “This is Your Life” by Mrs. Robert Washburn and a raffle of a GCFM quilt designed by members. The legacy was a silver traveling trophy for Horticulture Education.


1981 – 1983

Mrs. Granville I. Smith (Mary Lou) chose “APPRECIATE” for her theme. Membership: 64 Clubs, 4236 members. GCFM organized the first Leadership Conference for members and hosted the NER Annual Meeting in Ogunquit, with largest attendance to date. The Newsletter was reorganized, with third class mailing permit, eliminating the yearly audit by the Post Office. A quarterly letter was sent to Board Members and Club Presidents. The GCFM Bylaws and Handbook were completely revised and reprinted. The Scholarship was increased to $1000. GCFM supplied another “Acre for an Eagle.” $200 was donated for the Maine Lobsterman statue in Washington, DC. GCFM convinced the Governor to vote against the ‘jogging course” in Capitol Park. A new series of Flower Show Schools was started. GCFM dedicated the “Christine Dunlap Greenhouse” at Togus, December 14, 1982. Cumberland Garden Club was the first in NGC to install a By-Way Marker. GCFM dedicated the Blue Star Memorial Marker at the Maine Veterans’ Cemetery, donated by St. Croix District. The first Operation Wildflower workshop was held at Baxter State Park. GCFM took a stand against peat mining on our Great Heath and donated to the new Pine Tree State Arboretum in Augusta. GCFM celebrated fifty years with NGC. NGC President Mrs. Francis A. Fink attended the Annual Convention at USM, Gorham, in 1982, and Mrs. Lyle Johnsrud attended the 1983 Annual Convention at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Several NGC Awards were received by clubs and members during this administration. Mrs. Smith was elected NER Director for 1985-1987.


1983 – 1985

Mrs. Ambrose A. (Marge) Peterson, Jr.’s theme “HAPPY GARDENING” was the spirit she wanted to get across to GCFM members. Horticulture was stressed both in the large number of Standard Flower Shows (13 in 1983 and 18 in 1984, plus a State Flower Show in Presque Isle) and in the Fall Conference programs. The number of accredited Flower Show Judges grew to 51. In 1984, Maine won two NER awards for having the largest increase in membership, and a special award for this was also received from NGC. The last of the State’s billboards were removed and small, uniform directional signs began showing up on roadsides. Mrs. Peterson tried to get garden clubs throughout the state to combine their efforts to keep roadside flea markets from becoming eyesores. When NGC asked for the GCFM emblem to be creatively replicated, a contest was held to find the best one. Maine also received honor in the NER for the largest number of paid subscriptions to The National Gardener. Mrs. Peterson represented the GCFM at the inauguration of NGC’s first international garden club, the St. Croix Valley International Garden Club, at St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada. To encourage members to show their colors, logo jewelry in charms and pins was presented for sale to members. Maine participated in the NGC Campaign to “Save the Lady,” the Statue of Liberty, by contributing funds to this cause. Two scholarships were presented to students in horticulture-related subjects in the amounts of $1000 and $750.


1985 – 1987

Mrs. Bernard A. Dennison (Shirley) chose as her theme “WORKING FOR THE ULTIMATE – TOGETHER.” Leadership workshops were held each August as part of the GCFM Board Meeting to support and train club officers and GCFM and club committee chairmen. The “Hazardous Waste Awareness Conference” held in Washington, DC, in September 1985, led to Maine hosting the NER Conference on the same subject in conjunction with the GCFM Annual Convention held at Sebasco Estates in June 1986. The first Gardening Study Course for Maine was started in 1986; Landscape Design Study Course, Series III, also began in 1986. The GCFM purchased two varieties of wildflower seeds and distributed them to every club for dispersal in the spring of 1986. In May 1987, a Wildflower Workshop was held in Bar Harbor. The National Park Service honored the Bar Harbor Garden Club for its devoted attention to the care of the Wild Gardens of Acadia on the 25th anniversary of the Garden in June 1986. Castine Garden Club rejoined the GCFM, and the Lakeside Garden Club of Harrison joined the GCFM. $1000 scholarships were awarded in both years and Mrs. Dennison established the High School Speech and Essay Awards, criteria based on the NGC Speech and Essay Contests, and first and second place cash awards in both categories to be awarded annually. The money was to be donated by Mrs. Dennison.


1987 – 1989

Mrs. Philip R. (Gloria) Burrill’s theme “In Harmony with Our Environment” was carried out by establishing a tree growing program; giving new environmental awards; distributing “Keep in Green” tapes to each District; giving workshops on improving and protecting our environment; and purchasing a pine tree for Pine Tree State Arboretum honoring past governors. Capitol Park, Augusta, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, preserving it as a park for generations to come. The Maine Legislature enacted a bill creating the first week of June as Garden Week. GCFM hosted the NER Annual Meeting and the NER Symposium both in 1988 in Portland. Two GCFM Horticulture Scholarships were awarded: $1000, Craig McLean, 1988; $1500, Laurie Mattila, 1989. Alison C. Dibble was the recipient of the $3500 NGC Scholarship, 1989. NGC Awards for 1988 were: GCFM Membership Extension Certificate for increasing membership and Flower Show Achievement to Walnut Hill Garden Club; 1989: GCFM first place in NGC Environmental Poster Contest with “It’s Time to Erase Our Mistakes.” The Gardening Study Courses resulted in six accredited Gardening Consultants. GCFM became incorporated May 12, 1989. New clubs joined bringing membership to 65 clubs, over 4000 members. A By-Way Marker was set at the Bangor Veterans’ Memorial Bridge. Two NGC Presidents attended GCFM Conventions: Mrs. Carroll O. Griffin, 1988, Portland; Mrs. C. Manning Smith, 1989, Ellsworth. GCFM entered the State Horticulture and Flower Show in Saco. GCFM supported NGC’s “Let’s Get Growing” and NER’s “Germination New Generations.” A resolution of nine environmental concerns was sent to state and national legislators and NGC. The NGC International Flower Show, Rochester, NY, had seven GCFM entrants, and two judges were GCFM members. The Gloria Bryson Burrill Tree Planting Award was established and monies for the award donated by Mrs. Burrill.


1989 – 1991

Janet L. Meryweather’s theme “AWARENESS” was involvement for the 65 clubs, 4000 strong. It was more than just planting and cultivating, but sowing seeds of knowledge planted and cultivated through learning of the needs around us and concerns of our planet Earth. Awareness was heightened by: GCFM hosting Solid Waste Management Conference, Bangor, “Let it begin with you and me in ME;” co-sponsoring Endangered Plant Conservation Conference, Portland; holding three day Operation Wildflower Workshop including China Lake and Sidney Bog field trips; supporting Maine’s Critical Areas Program; completing revisions of the Conservation List of Wild Plants; becoming a Benefactor by donating $1001 to NGC’s Friendship Garden, dedicated in 1991 at the National Arboretum, Washington, DC; learning different points of view from NGC/Shell Oil sponsored conference, Arkansas, “Planet Earth: Whose Garden is it Anyway?”; and by publishing articles in the Newsletter which, in keeping with environmental concerns, switched to recycled paper. GCFM participated in two Maine Horticulture Shows, Portland and sponsored Standard Flower Shows to inform the public about garden clubs–what we do for our earth, environment, and community. Three courses were given: Flower Show School, Gardening Study, and Landscape Design Study. In 1990 the NGC $3500 Scholarship and two GCFM $1500 scholarships were awarded. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society presented Silver Medals to Janet Tenbroeck and Betty Thorndick for decades of dedication to Wild Gardens of Acadia, containing over 500 species of plants, trees, and shrubs indigenous to Mt. Desert Island. The residual $6000 Military Garden Therapy Fund was given for use at Maine Veterans’ Cemetery. NGC President Violet Dawson attended 1991 Diamond Jubilee Convention, Presque Isle. Addison Saunders designed the President’s pin of white, rose, green, yellow gold, replicating the GCFM logo, set with brilliant cut, deep green, Maine tourmaline from Mt. Micah, site of the first find in North America by Elizah.

Hamlin, brother of Hannibal, and Ezekial Homes. The gem is a gift of Mrs. Steen L. Meryweather.


Changing Times ~ 1991-2011

1991 – 1993

Nancy H. Atwell chose as her theme “Renewal” which involved beginning a thorough revision of the GCFM Handbook. “Renewal” also involved reaching out to new members through publicity in the Maine Sunday Telegram and on the most listened to radio gardening show in southern Maine. The GCFM printed and distributed 60,000 copies of A Guide for Conserving Wild Plants of Maine. An Environmental Awareness Conference “Energy, Economics, and the Environment: Challenges and Choices for a Better World” on alternative energy sources was held in Portland in 1992. The Togus Fund was used for landscaping part of the Veterans’ Cemetery in Augusta. Conventions were held at Sebasco Estates in 1992 and Bangor Motor Inn in 1993. Susan Dumaine spoke at Fall Conference 1991 and Suteko Stockwell in 1992. Maine continued to have NGC Scholarship winners: Alison Coan Dibble in 1992 and Jon Connolly in 1993. Dr. Currier McEwen won the NGC Helen S. Hull Award for Literary Horticulture in 1992. The GCFM participated in NGC projects: Bloomin’ Good, a recipe book; the Ameriflora Gazebos; and “Discovery, “the floral exhibition in Washington, DC in 1992. The GCFM continued to hold Landscape Design School in Freeport, Gardening Study School in Orono, and Flower Show School in Portland. In response to a letter from the GCFM Board of Directors, L. L. Bean re-thought its sale of Sea Lavender wreaths and changed the material to Caspia rather than the endangered Sea Lavender. Mrs. Atwell was elected NER Director for 1995-1997.


1993 – 1995

Linda M. Frinsko’s theme, “As Maine Grows,” focused on a public relations effort to promote GCFM, to increase membership, to generate enthusiasm for gardening, to highlight the talents and skills of Maine experts, and to maintain the vitality of GCFM. GCFM hosted an NER Symposium, July 1993, and the NER Annual Meeting, September 1993. The Flower Show School Series was completed, and GCFM has six new accredited judges and four student judges. A cooperative effort was begun with the Maine Forest Service to improve the Smokey the Bear Contest; Governor King presented the certificates at the Blaine House. The National Tree Trust supplied 396 trees to be planted on public lands as part of the GCFM’s PETALS grants to assist in their community projects. Two Standard Flower Shows, “The Beauty of Maine” and “Back to the Future”, were presented at the Bangor Garden Show, Bangor Civic Center. A membership outreach display was presented at the Bangor Mall in conjunction with the Maine Young Farms Agricultural Show. Jon Connolly received the NGC Scholarship in 1994, and Jeffrey Sawyer received an NGC Scholarship in 1995. Forty-two clubs sent donations to the Seed Court Garden in Austin, TX. This project was a wildflower garden developed and planted by NGC and a project of NGC President Eleanor Yates. President Yates and NER Director Virginia Kenney attended the 1994 GCFM Portland Convention. GCFM Award of Honor winners were Marian Hosmer in 1994 and Elsie Viles in 1995. Membership levels reached 3602. All GCFM Fall Conference and Convention speakers were from Maine.


1995 – 1997

Mrs. Brian Cianchette (Sonia) chose as her theme “Gardening through Education.” All Conventions featured horticulture, landscaping, and flower arranging programs. Two new garden clubs joined, Montville Area Country Gardeners and Ossipee Meadows Garden Club, bringing total clubs to 57 and membership over 3600. GCFM is one of the state organizations in New England that posted the most new members. The Newsletter added four new pages. The first Gardening Consultants Council in New England was organized in 1996. Landscape Design Section V, Course II was presented in 1996 and Course III in 1997. The Sixty-fifth Annual Convention was held at the Sunday River Ski Resort in Bethel. NGC President Mrs. John M. Michie, Jr., NER Director Nancy Atwell, and NGC Parliamentarian Phyllis Wood, were the honored guests. Joseph McBreen received the GCFM scholarship, and Jeffrey Sawyer was awarded a NGC scholarship. A second-hand jewelry sale netted over $500 for the Scholarship Fund. For the “Millions of Trees” program, the Maine Department of Transportation planted or provided for planting 5000 seedlings in memory of children who lost their lives in the Oklahoma bombing. The Phyllis C. Lewis Traveling Award was established for the best program for children. The GCFM sea lavender project was listed in the Shell Oil magazine as one of the outstanding PETALS projects. The Maine Department of Forestry gave a grant of $3000 for proposed plantings at the Augusta Civic Center. Winners of the Smokey the Bear and Woodsy Owl contest were honored by Governor King, Maine Forest Service, and GCFM at the Blaine House. The Sixty-sixth Annual Convention was held at the Shiretown Inn in Houlton. NER Director Jeanne Marie Parkes was the honored guest. Joseph Patrick McBreen was honored as the 1997 GCFM and NGC scholarship winner and presented members and guests with seedlings of red pine, spruce, and balsam fir.


1997 – 1999

Susan A. Xirinachs’ administration encouraged members to “Return to their Roots,” her state theme. Members were encouraged to look back at the history of their clubs, examine all the work that had been accomplished, make new members aware of their clubs’ background, and continue to support projects started by their predecessors. This theme had a two-fold message. The second part was meant to have members share heirloom seeds–with other garden club members-through club projects. It was a six-year project of the NGC to help earn money to refurbish a portion of the National Botanical Garden, and the grounds in front of it. Maine had a special pin to sell for this fund-raiser – a butterfly pin with Maine and National Garden Project on it. The profits allowed Maine to have two pavers placed in the butterfly garden. Each club member contributed 50 cents – the result was a 95% participation for this state. October 1997 was the groundbreaking for the expansion of the National headquarters in St. Louis, MO. PETALS was a major focus of this administration. Maine received a $1000 state grant to work on a children’s room project at the Bangor Garden Show. During this administration, Maine had two national scholarship winners. Each year there were five flower shows, including one at the Bangor Garden Show. Our National President, Barbara Barnette, attended our Fall Conference in 1997. The Annual Convention in 1999 had some memorable moments. Several past presidents and members presented the evening entertainment with skits that took members “Back to their Roots” from material provided by club histories from the 1940’s and ‘50’s. This theme began and ended this president’s term of office. Youth participation in garden clubs was encouraged. To this end, this president established the Thompson-Lyford Youth Award in memory of her two grandmothers and in honor of her mother and aunt, all who were former presidents of the Brewer Garden and Bird Club.


1999 – 2001

Carol Ann French chose as her theme “Flower Power 2000 – a Harvest of Harmony”. Her “2000 Books/2000 Years project” gave books on gardening, nature, conservation, and related topic to libraries, schools, day care centers, and hospitals for the education of children of all ages throughout the state. This project was a grass roots effort and will leave a lasting legacy for Maine’s children. During her term, Saco District divided, increasing the number of districts in Maine to seven. Stroudwater and Piscataqua Districts were created. Maine has 58 clubs and 3566 members. Maine purchased its second paver for the National Garden Project. Thirteen clubs received national awards. In addition, the state received a PETALS grant. The state PETALS project treated children to their own room at the Bangor Flower and Garden Show. The room titled “The Rain Forest and ME” was an educational wonderland for exploration and hands-on experience. In 1999-2000 Maine had a national winner and runner-up in the Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl Poster Contest. Many clubs participated in Habitat for Humanity Projects. Maine had the highest total club participation in the NER Bird & Butterfly Project. In 1999, Maine hosted both a New England Regional Symposium and a New England Region annual meeting. NGC President Dean Day Smith attended the 1999 Fall Conference. Maine took part in “2000-Time In Bloom”, the NGC Standard Flower Show in San Diego. From planners, to chairmen, to designers, Maine was involved. Maine received many ribbons in both design and horticulture, including a First Place Award in the Petite Class.


2001 – 2003

Dr. Claire Hunt’s chosen theme, “Garden Clubs – Reaching Out” focused upon expanding the horizons of the garden clubs. Several activities fostered this including: an Orientation meeting for Club Presidents, re-establishing the Public Relations/Publicity Committee, and urging clubs to list a contact number and welcome the public to club activities and meetings. A website was designed for the Federation and open to clubs to participate. To applaud state resources, speakers included representatives from the Pine Tree Arboretum, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, and the Lyle Littlefield Gardens. The President’s Project complimented this theme with the donation of almost 1500 Horticulture related books to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens Library. GCFM was represented in the Bangor and Portland Flower Shows, at the State House in Augusta, and at county fairs. State Life Member membership was increased by 25% of active members. Special State Life Members-only events were staged, and State Life Members and NGC life members recognized at GCFM meetings. The Fall Conference 2001 in Augusta proved an unqualified success in attendance (285). Present was NGC President Lois Shuster. Federation members donated $600 for the Firemen of New York Station House #81 as part of 9-11 relief. The introduction of a large screen to provide every member of the audience a clear view at Fall Conference was instituted in 2002. The Convention in 2002 was held at the University of Maine Presque Isle. The Annual Meeting 2003 was held in Boothbay Harbor at the Spruce Point Inn. The highlight of this convention was “A Fantastic Journey” and featured an Oriental theme. There was considerable growth in the Youth Program participation, the Landscape Design and Gardening Study Schools, as well as an increased number of Flower Shows. Scholarships ($3000 each year) were awarded. One winner was also awarded an additional $3500 from the NGC. The GCFM was the recipient of the NER’s Evelyn Cole Traveling Tray and the Helen Champlin Bowl in 2002. Petal Grants from Shell Oil were received both years by member clubs and the GCFM.


2003 – 2005

Wendy E. Cote chose “Tenants of the Land” for her theme and her President’s Project: Support Local Land Trusts. Membership: 51 clubs in seven Districts, 3066 members. NGC Schools sponsored were Gardening Study, Landscape Design Study, and Environmental Studies (the first Environmental School in Maine.) Three Flower Shows were held in 2004, and two Flower Shows were held in 2005. The 2004 State Convention, Garden Melodies, was held by Penobscot District at the Black Bear Inn, Orono, June 17-19. Judges’ Council presented a design panel, and Lois Berg Stack presented a program on Proven Winners for 2004. Field trips included Rogers Farm, the Orono Bog Board walk, the Lyle Littlefield Gardens, and Sprague’s Nursery. The 2005 State Convention, Sea Breezes, was held by Piscataqua District at the Colony Hotel, Kennebunkport, May 31-June 2. Workshops included bird tagging, yoga, tidal pool explorations, hypertufa troughs, and mini evergreen container planting. Programs included Mort Mather, a self-taught organic gardener, and Bill Graham, designer. Achievements include: 257 flowering trees were reported planted by clubs, and 45 gardens at historic locations have been restored and are maintained by clubs. Each of the 51 clubs reported numerous civic projects throughout the year. Approximately $15,000 is awarded annually through scholarships from the GCFM and local clubs. Through the President’s Project, clubs have had programs by local land trusts, clubs and members are making financial donations, and many clubs and members are donating their time and talents. Camden Garden Club had a fundraiser for their local land trust that raised $6500. NGC Awards: Our 2004 state scholarship winner went on to be awarded an NGC scholarship. Cape Elizabeth Garden Club received $2,500, and Bar Harbor Garden Club received $500 for their Historic Gardens Projects. 2004 NER Awards: Publicity Press Books–Camden Garden Club, Kennebec Valley Garden Club; Mildred Black Pettit Award for increased membership—GCFM; Helen Hussey Champlin Bowl for largest number of new members—GCFM; Nancy Atwell Trophy–Mt. Blue Garden Club; Smokey Bear Award for grade 2-Seacoast Garden Club (Kate Bleier); Jacob Hastings of Mt. Blue Garden Club received special recognition for his presentation on hybridizing daylilies on an episode of the Dirt Gardener TV Show; Award of Honor–Mrs. Charles McMichael (Boothbay Harbor Garden Club); Mary Stone Garden Therapy Award–Waterville Community Garden Club.



The Garden Club Federation of Maine’s President, Allison D. Beards, chose “Cultivating Maine’s Future” for the state theme. The state project was Leave a Lasting Legacy ~ Cultivating Community. In honor of the 75th Anniversary Celebration, all 51 Maine Garden Clubs in 7 Districts, with 3066 members were asked to choose a specific legacy project in their communities. The GCFM sponsored 2 Gardening Study, 1 Landscape Design and 1 Environmental School each year. 3 Flower Shows were held in 2006 and 2 in 2007. The 2005 NER meeting was hosted in Portland with NGC. President Kitty Larkin attending. The 2005 annual Fall Conference “”Cultivating Delight in Nature’s Tapestry” featured programs by designer Ann Lange and Suburban Safari book author Hanna Holmes. The 2006 75th Anniversary Convention “Celebrating GCFM 75 Years of Cultivating Maine” was hosted by the St. Croix District June 13-15 on Mt. Desert Island with programs by Martha Stewart, ” The Evolution of One Woman’s Garden” and LA. Patrick Chasse “Beatrix Farrand, Garland Farm”. Workshops on Sweet Peas, Japanese Gardens and Garden Tours of Island gardens. NGC. President Kitty Larkin was an honored guest. The 75th was the highest attended convention in Maine’s history. The 2006 annual Fall Conference ” Lasting Legacies, A Vision of Our Gardening and Floral Design Heritage” featured programs by Nancy Wetzel ” Shoals & Tidewater: Thaxter’s Island Garden to Tyson’s River Garden” and Designer Rebecca Linney ” The Legacy, Lore, and Love of Nature’s Medium”. The 75th Anniversary Time-Capsule containing state Legacy Civic projects and history was buried in a ceremony at Kennebec Valley Garden Club Park in Augusta. The 2007 Annual Convention ” City Sites” was hosted in Portland by the Stroudwater District June 12-14. Field Trips of Olmsted Sites, Programs by Floral Designer Tony Todesco, Author of “Beautiful Madness, One Man’s Journey Through Others Gardens” James Dodson and Paul Tukey, Editor of People Places and Plants Magazine.  Workshops on Container Gardening and Flower Show set up. Other Achievements interwoven into the above events included: NER. “Sprouts” participation, Patriotic and 75th Anniversary Tree Plantings statewide with over 250 Trees planted. 7 Clubs applied for and received NGC. “Let Freedom Ring” Civic Development Grants: Boothbay GC. $500 “Boothbay Memorial Park Restoration”. Eliot GC. $300 for Restoration of World War Veteran’s Monument of 1937″ Ellsworth GC. $1000. for “Reconnecting the Community with its roots: Honoring Early Veterans at Old Burial Ground”. Evergreen GC. $300 for “Restoration Memorial Stone Area”. Seacoast GC. $1000. for “Cornus Kousa Dogwood Trees at Kennebunk Public Safety Memorial”. 2 Blue Star Markers were rededicated in Bar Harbor and Machias. 2 new Markers were planned for Belfast and Bath. Maine’s State Scholarship winner went on to win the $3,500 NGC Scholarship. NGC. Publicity Press Book 3rd Place Kennebec Valley GC. Certificates of Appreciation for Yearbook, Belfast and Seacoast GC’s. NGC. “Create a Beautiful Tapestry” Youth Poetry Contest, Poster Contest. NGC. Essay Contest 1st and 2nd Place winners. We Cultivated Maine’s Future.

+ 75th Anniversary Time Capsule buried in Kennebec Valley Garden Club Park, 17 University Dr., Augusta Maine. To be opened in 25 years.



GCFM President, Shirlene Gosline, selected “Plant the Seeds of Gardening” to encourage and foster the involvement of Garden Club members to work with youth in gardening projects in their communities. Five thousand dollars ($5,000) was raised, and clubs applied and received grants of $200 to $500 to help fund projects.

The Garden Club Federation of Maine is a member of the New England Region and is composed of seven districts, 46 clubs, with 2,652 members.  GCFM sponsored four Garden Study and two Landscape Design Schools, as well as a Flower Show School held after an absence of 15 years. Three standard Flower Shows were held in 2008 and one in 2009.  Fall Conference 2007 featured Kevin Gardener, author of The Granite Kiss, and Constance McCausland, an Accredited Master Flower Show Judge. The 2008 Fall Conference speakers were Steve Oliveri, Director of the Pine Tree State Arboretum, and Cathy Miller, who has created dried floral arrangements for many Presidents in the White House.  State Life Member dinners were held at the Augusta Country Club prior to each Fall Conference. Sebasco Estates was a beautiful setting for the 2008 Convention. Numerous educational workshops were offered and C.L. Fornari, “The Garden Lady” spoke on “Myths in Gardening”. NGC President, Barbara May, NER Director Sonia Cianchette, NER Alternate Director Claire Hunt, NH President Joyce Kimball, and RI President were honored guests.

The Annual Meeting of 2009 “Through the Garden Gate” was held in Orono at the Black Bear Inn. Herbalist Mary Mondello, Designer Ann Jordan, and our own Sonia Cianchette were the speakers. Tours of the Eastern Maine Native Plant Arboretum and the Fields Audubon Center were also held. The University of Maine President, Robert Kennedy, and his wife held a reception for members at their home. Bath Garden Club dedicated a Blue Star Marker in November 2008. $1,225 was raised for Habitat for Humanity.

The Piscataquis District’s project has supported a sustainable Garden International Project in San Lucas, Belize. Over $4,600 was raised by the five clubs with donations from other garden club members throughout the GCFM. The District Director went to Belize to observe the work made possible by their contribution.

Awards: Ellsworth Garden Club received $1,000; Central Maine Garden Club $500; Seacoast Garden Club $300; and Old York $200 for their “Let’s Go Native” projects.  2007 NER Awards: Publicity Press Books: Camden and Kennebec Valley Garden Clubs, Evelyn R. Cole National Gardener Tray for greatest increase in paid subscribers to The National Gardener.  2008 NER Awards: The Helen Hussey Champlin Bowl for the greatest increase in membership, the Lina F. Wagner Perennial Garden Award, the Deanna J. Mozzochi Creative Design Award, the Maureen M. Colton Award for best class of designs in a Standard Flower Show, and Publicity Press Books: Kennebec Valley Garden Club (3 rd Med) and Camden Garden Club (2nd Lg).

2008 NGC Awards: David Merrill received a $3,500 scholarship, as well as a GCFM $5,000 scholarship.  Seacoast Garden Club received a certificate of merit for their yearbook and The Penobscot District and Boothbay Region Garden Club were awarded rosettes for their outstanding flower shows. Winners of Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl poster and poetry contest were also won.

The GCFM was proud to have one of their own serve as NER District Director Sonia Cianchette, ably assisted by Claire Hunt, PH. D as her Alternate Director.



Rebecca L. Linney’s theme, “Making A Difference”, led 6 districts, with 47 garden clubs inspiring 2,450 gardening enthusiasts through a challenging and rewarding two years continuing the passion of education as well as a mission to move into the next generation. Achievements: State wide projects – ‘Beautify Blight’ restoration of historical cemeteries; ‘Golden Days’ bulb purchases creating a Civic Development Fund of $5,650 to support GCFM club projects serving ‘CHILDREN’; Significant enhancement of the GCFM website, with the distinction of an electronic Newsletter “The Gardeners Voice, allowing the realignment of funds toward education and distinctive programs without raising the dues of $3.00.  Revamped all Awards for the GCFM Website, including electronic applications; Critical GCFM Policies required of a 501c3 were addressed and updated. Bylaws are still in need of updating. GCFM extended an invitation to the NGC Fall Board Meeting Chairman to invite the NGC BOD to come to Portland, Maine, for their Fall Board Meeting in 2016.  The invitation was accepted.

NGC Schools sponsored were Landscape Design School Course III & IV, Garden Study School Course III & IV, Flower Show School Course II, NER Flower Show School Symposium, and Four GCFM Standard Flower Shows.  2010 State Convention “Leaving a Greener Footprint was held in Ogunquit hosted by the Piscataqua District. Outstanding Programs: Scholarship – “A Little Help Goes A Long Way”, Stuart Dawson, ASLA; Environment – “Building a Resilient Coast-Maine Confronts Climate Change”; “What Makes our Coast Special and How are We Protecting It”; “Educating Children for a Sustainable Future”, John Forti; “Floral Artistry with Indigenous Components”, Pauline Runkle; Landscape – “Resources for Preserving our Historic Footprints”, James R.  Cothran, FASLA; Ogunquit Marginal Way Walk – “Coastal Geological Awareness of Distinction to Preserve”, Prof. Arthur M. Hussey; Garden Tours – “A Family Affair-Generations of a Garden”; local gallery & museum – ‘Art in Bloom’. 2011 State Convention “Downeast-Honoring our Past-Sustaining our Future” held in Castine, hosted by the St. Croix District. Outstanding Programs: Tours of awareness – “Castine’s Garden, Habitat & Harbor History”; Landscape – “A Future for the Past, Understanding Our Landscape Heritage”, Cindy Brockway, Past Designs; Greenhouse Gardening – “Coleman/Damroche Gardens”; Plant Respect – “Plant Sales, Swaps and Pathogens: Preventing the Spread of Plant Pests”; “Ikebana Demo”; “Farmer’s Market”; “Photography – Gardens Maine Style with Lynn Karlin”; Breakfast Discussion Topics: Membership, Native/Invasive Species, Standard Flower Shows, Youth Programs. 2009 & 2010 GCFM Fall Conference Programs: “Water: The Fountain of Life”; Yardscaping: ‘Green Yards that help keep our Waters Blue’; “Sustainable Landscape Designs that Embrace new Aesthetic”; ‘Garden in Motion’; “Ecophotopraphy in NE: Celebrating Ten Years of Conservation”; “Fine Garden Art”, Jill Nooney; “Floral Designs that can Travel”; “Effects of Climate Change on NE Flora & Fauna”; “Edible Landscaping with Rosalind Creasy”.  2011 GCFM Collaborative Winter Programs: Viles Arboretum – “Celebrating Trees/World of Vernal Pools”; Laudholm Farm – “ECODAY – New England’s Capability to Feed Itself”.

NER Awards won in 2009: Cornelia Williamson Watson Award for Historic Preservation to Bath GC; Mary Stone Garden Therapy Award to Boothby GC; Publicity Press Book Awards – medium & large club category – 2nd Place Kennebec & Camden GC. NER Awards won in 2010: Sears Civic Beautification Bowl to Camden GC; Laura Wetmore Conservation Bowl to Ellsworth GC; Publicity Press Book Awards – medium & large club category – 1st place to Kennebec Valley and Camden GC. NGC Awards won in 2010: Scholarship $3,500 to Luka Negoita; High School Essay Contest 1st place $1,000 to Logan MacDonald; 2009 Youth Poetry Contest – 5 winners; Educational Publications – “In the Garden with Old York Garden Club”.

To date, Maine has been free of billboards since 1977.  In the year 2011, the law was challenged.  GCFM stood behind the beginning of the campaign to nurture ‘Scenic America’ along our highways, and we continue to maintain our pride of this legacy. GCFM clubs were the grass roots support in the 1970’s and we hope to continue to ‘Make A Difference’ by preserving our scenic landscapes.  The Activity that gave the state of Maine the most pride was the application for the NGC Award of Excellence #23.  Our candidate, native son, Patrick Chasse, ASLA, immensely qualified, received this distinctive award during the NGC Convention 2011 in Washington, DC.


Gardening in the Digital Age & Pandemic ~ 2011-2021


GCFM President was Kathleen Marty and her theme was Digging for Opportunities to Promote and Preserve.  There were 42 clubs and 6 districts, and 2,482 members.  The 2012 State Convention was held at Hilton Garden Inn in Freeport, on June 19-21. The theme was: “A Passion for Flowers”.  Programs included garden tours, a cooking demonstration, Broadway in Bloom (floral interpretation of Broadway Show costumes), and Sydney Eddison, was the keynote speaker with, “Gardening for a Lifetime”.

The 2013 State Convention was at Spruce Point Inn, Boothbay Harbor, from June 18-20.  The theme was “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” and programs included tours and workshops at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden, flora design, hypertufa pot demonstration, “A Royal Tour of London’s Chelsea Flower Show”, presented by Maureen Bovet, and “The Rise of the American Garden”, presented by Terry Hire.

Achievements during this period included re-establishing an awards program, the NER award for greatest increase in subscriptions to The National Gardener and the greatest increase in new members, and state awards given to our local garden clubs. GCFM also raised money and formed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity (landscaping 2 homes in 2012 and 2 planned for 2013).  Scholarships and camperships statewide totaled $34,000 over these two years.

GCFM increased visibility in the State of Maine, promoting and preserving with state-wide programs that included new Blue Star Markers, awareness of restoring the American chestnut tree to the original forest ranges in Maine, preserving native landscapes, and increased garden club memberships.

National awards that were received included the NGC scholarship award winner of $3000 (Barbara May scholarship), and the publication award #12 for newsletters over 24 pages – electronic version of The Gardener’s Voice.

Regional awards won were two awards for increases in membership (number and percentages) and the award for greatest increase in National Gardener subscriptions.



The GCFM President was Kathleen Marty and her theme was Promoting, Preserving, Protecting For A Greener Tomorrow.  There were 42 clubs in 6 districts and 2,299 members.

Flower Shows were held by Old York Garden Club (September 2014), St. Croix District (August 2014), and St. Mary’s Garden Club (October 2013).

The 2014 State Convention was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor, on June 18 -19.  The theme was “Gardening Treasures & Pleasures”.   Outstanding Programs offered were garden tour with 5 private gardens – Japanese-inspired, dwarf conifer collections, a writer’s garden with greenhouse, hosta collection, artwork and hardscape, branch art workshop, and container gardening demonstration.  Speakers included Dr. Lois Stack, who spoke on the Honeybee Colony Collapse, and Barbara Damrosch, author, gardener, and lecturer with her latest book “The Four-Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook”.

The 2015 State Convention was held at the Colony Hotel in Kennebunkport, on June 17-18.  The theme was “Sands of Thyme by the Sea”.  Programs included author, garden consultant, lecturer, and garden designer Kerry Ann Mendez.  Signed copies of Kerry’s new book, “The Downsized Garden” were sold.   A garden tour with 10 private gardens in the Kennebunk area was a highlight and Floral Designs featured the theme “A Garden Party”.

Achievements during this period included:

  • Continued our partnership with Habitat for Humanity – landscaped 2 homes in 2013, 3 homes in 2014, 3 homes are planned for 2015.
  • Scholarship given by GCFM in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Clubs and Districts continue to give scholarships and camperships – totaling over $30,000 statewide.   GCFM Scholarship recipient was awarded an NGC Scholarship.
  • Continued to support the NGC partnership with Crown Bees. Two GCFM members are recognized speakers and have presented 4 programs.
  • Award programs continue for both GCFM, NER and NGC.
  • Rededication of a Blue Star Marker by the St. Mary’s Garden Club, Falmouth, November 2013.
  • New Blue Star Memorial Marker was dedicated November 2014 by the Kennebec District, Augusta.
  • The Camden Garden Club is celebrating 100 years of their history in 2015.
  • A new website was launched in March 2015.

Blue Star Memorial Markers are a great source of pride in Maine.  The Garden Club Federation of Maine has dedicated 28 markers.   We also contracted and created a new website for the GCFM which took over 6 months with the dedication and hard work of a committee of 6 board members.  The old GCFM website had to be completely dismantled and built from scratch with a different web host.  We were extremely proud of this accomplishment and feel it offers a very professional image for the Garden Club Federation of Maine.

The following NGC awards were received in 2013:  NGC Scholarship Winner – $3,000, NGC Awards for Press Books, Publications, Yearbook, Youth, School Gardens Project, and for promoting the goals of NGC.

NGC awards received in 2014 included:  Scholarship Winner – $4,000, Standard Flower Show – Purple Ribbon, St. Mary’s Garden Club, and NGC Awards for Publicity Press Books, Publications, and Yearbook.

Regional awards won were for 2013 Publicity Press Books and Yearbooks, Lina Wagner Perennial Garden Award, Flower Show award, and 2014 Publicity Press Books and Yearbooks.



Suzanne Bushnell’s theme of Growing Together – Inspiring Change was chosen to encourage individual clubs to work together and with organizations in their community to develop partnerships.  It was thought that combining forces and resources would help to bring about positive change in areas of interest to GCFM.  Some of the successful partnerships developed at the state level included working with the University of Maine on a ground-breaking pollinator survey of members.  Data obtained was used in an ongoing study of the “pollinator security” of fruit and vegetable crops in the northeast.  Other partnerships were with the Maine Association of Realtors, the Maine Audubon Society, local land trusts, libraries, and local companies who helped sponsor our conventions.  Accomplishments included hosting the NGC Fall Board Meeting in Portland in 2016, sponsoring an NGC Award of Excellence winner (Neal Lash at the NGC’s 2017 Convention in Richmond, VA), and hosting the first of two Landscape Design courses held in many years.  Speakers of note included well-known author and gardener, Tovah Martin of Vermont, and Thomas Rainer, one of the leading ecological landscape architects in the country from Arlington, VA.



Judith Tarbox’s theme was “Plant Maine – Sustainable Home Gardening”.  Membership was 2,070.  NGC schools held included LDS Courses 3 & 4 with 79 attendees total.

Accomplishments over this period included hosting a Native Plant Symposium (2017), Native Plant Forum (2018), and NGC Standard Flower Show (2018).  GCFM exhibited and gave presentations at The Maine Flower Show (2018 and 2019) and gave a presentation at The Bangor Flower and Garden Show in 2019.   We dedicated Maine’s first Gold Star Families Marker in Brunswick in 2018, dedicated a new Blue Star Marker in Franklin in 2018, and rededicated a Blue Star Marker in Bangor in 2017.  The following grants were received:  NGC’s Native Plants and Wildflower Program Grant (2017); two PLANT AMERICA Grants (Ellsworth GC – 2017) and St. Mary’s GC – 2018).

NEGC Awards Received (other than club level) included:  Lina F. Wagner Perennial Garden Award (Lisa Colburn in 2017), Helen Hussey Champlin Award for largest number of new members in 2018, and New England Wildflower Society Award for the educational programs using native plants in 2018.  NGC Scholarships were received in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Major challenges during this period included getting club members to think beyond their individual club (increase participation in District and State sponsored activities) and expanding knowledge about the benefits of being a part of a national organization.  We are getting new members, but aging membership reduces our ability to engage in some of our long-term community support projects.  Getting volunteers to commit to serve on committees and in leadership positions remains challenging.



Barbara Longstaff’s theme was “Planting Today for America’s Tomorrow”.  1,943 members were in 40 clubs.

The 2019 Annual GCFM Fall Conference was held at the Augusta Civic Center in Augusta. The theme was “Bountiful Maine”, and we hosted two lively programs: “All About Daylilies”, with Jeff O’Donal from O’Donal’s Nursery in Gorham and “Trends in Growing Vegetables”, presented by “Farmer Kev”, Kevin Leavitt, an organic garden market specialist.

The 2020 Annual GCFM Convention had to be cancelled due to the COVID 19 pandemic. However, special executive and board meetings were held via conference calls, primarily to discuss updating GCFM Bylaws to include language that will enable GCFM to provide continuous service and operation, by way of electronic means of communication to membership, during the times when we are not being able to meet in person.

The 2020 Annual GCFM Fall Conference was cancelled again, due to the difficulties brought on by the COVID pandemic, however, GCFM did hold their first ever “Zoom” Board Meeting during this time, setting a precedent for things to come.

The 2021 Annual GCFM Convention was in fact “Unconventional”.  The convention was held as a two-day event with the first day being the Annual Board Meeting, held via Zoom technology, and the second day featured an outdoor event held at the Viles Arboretum in Augusta, with awards presentations and the election of and installation of the new 2021-2023 GCFM slate of officers.

GCFM had a very productive participation in the New England Garden Club’s project presented by Regional Director Suzanne Bushnell whose theme, “Planting the New England Victory Garden”, is in keeping with NGC theme, “Plant America”.  Suzanne is a GCFM past president. The Regional Member of Honor recipient was Becky Gallery, Harpswell Garden Club.

NGC awards included #L-5 Landscape Design:  Aiv- Harpswell Garden Club/#SR Member Award of Honor; winner of the Robert H. Rucker Scholarship:  Jordan Daigle; Yearbook Awards New England Region, Osewantha Garden Club, Kennebec Valley Garden Club, and Camden Garden Club.  Several clubs participated in the NGC poetry contest with 1st. 2nd, and 3rd place winners in grades 1, 2, and 6-8.

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