Garden Club History
The story of what is now the Garden Club of Indian River County, Inc. is the story of the very remarkable women who were its leaders and inspiration. Organized in 1928 as the Vero Beach Garden Club, its first president was Mrs. Winchester Fitch of New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. Mrs. Fitch was a member of the Garden Club of America, an officer of the Greenwich Garden Club and a winter resident of Vero Beach. She brought her garden club knowledge to Vero Beach and set out enthusiastically with a coterie of likeminded women toward a program of city beautification.
In 1931 the Vero Beach Garden Club became the Indian River Garden Club. Membership in the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs was granted in 1933. Garden circles were formed as membership increased. Circles today continue their own tradition of community beautification. The Indian River Garden Club formally became the Garden Club of Indian River County in 1950 and was incorporated in 1960. During that decade, 300 members joined Mrs. J. Hubert Graves in seeking a suitable site for a permanent Garden Club home. Her dedication to its accomplishment came about in 1968 when ground was broken for a building that stands today in worthy commemoration of the Club's formation 82 years ago.
From its beginnings, Garden Club beautification programs concentrated on parks, schools, roadways and buildings. In 1944 planting of the oaks on Victory Blvd. was a Garden Club project that remains today. Over the years, assistance has broadened to include non-profit organizations, such as the Heritage, Inc., the Salvation Army, Indian River Habitat for Humanity, Homeless Family Center, the American Red Cross, Abilities Resource Center, Hibiscus Children's Home and Redlands Christian Migrant Center among others.
In 2003, the Garden Club planted the median between the Barber Bridge and Royal Palm Pointe in memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001. More recent assistance has gone toward scholarships in environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, re-landscaping the Vero Beach Theatre Guild, the Vero Beach Woman's Club, the Hallstrom House, and toward the teaching garden at the Gifford Youth Activity Center. Landscaping at the Mueller Campus of Indian River State College was recently provided for the rear lawn of the new Brackett Library. Plans are under way this year to re-landscape the front of the Heritage Center. The Garden Club supports McKee Botanical Garden each year as a Gatekeeper.
Flower Shows displaying the floral artistry of members have been the mainstay of the Garden Club since 1928. Civic projects are supported by the Garden Club Annual Christmas Ornament, which started in 1992 and depicts city and county sites of historical interest and Gardenfest!, an increasingly popular garden event held in Riverside Park since 2002.