History of the Topsham Garden Club
The Topsham Garden Club was founded in 1934 by members of the Village Improvement Association. The first meeting was held on May 20, 1934 in the Library Hall upstairs in the Androscoggin Engine House on Main Street. That same year it joined the Federated Garden Clubs of Maine as a member of the Androscoggin District, transferring in 1938 to the Medomak District.
Since its founding, the Topsham Garden Club has been actively engaged in community activities that reach beyond the core interests of its members: horticulture, birding, conservation, and environmental issues. For many years, the club was engaged with the Hyde Home for Crippled Children in Bath, working with young gardeners in the home’s greenhouses, collecting toys and making wreaths at Christmas and even sewing dresses for the little girls.
Later, it joined with the Federated Garden Clubs of Maine to provide gifts for the veterans at Togus Hospital and to purchase plantings for the grounds. Over the years, it has supported a wide range of community charities as well as regional and national environmental and conservation organizations and has offered youth scholarships to summer camps and training programs.
In Topsham, the club has planted and maintained gardens throughout the community at the library (on Pleasant Street and later on Foreside Road), at Town Hall and along Elm Street. In its early years, it worked with Topsham schoolchildren involved in a Junior Nature Club and hosted an Annual Flower Show. One of the club’s projects was a Memorial Garden near the Fire House at Main and Green Streets that included a memorial stone with the names of fallen servicemen from Topsham that was later moved to Town Hall. In 1943, it planted a Victory Garden behind the Whitten Library on Pleasant Street.
At the holidays, the club decorated the Whitten Library on Pleasant Street and now provides monthly floral arrangements for the new library on Foreside Road. In August, members create prize-winning exhibits at the Topsham Fair and in December make holiday gifts for the residents of local nursing homes.
The Topsham Garden Club is an active member of the Garden Club Federation of Maine, hosting Medomak District meetings on a rotating basis with other clubs in the region, and sending delegates to the statewide meetings.
Typically, the monthly meetings of the club feature lively programs. These days, they are usually talks by guest speakers on a wide range of topics or trips to area gardens. Early on, the members themselves often delivered papers on topics of interest and presented slide shows of their trips, a tradition that continues for some programs.
As always, refreshments are a critical element of each meeting. Today, members take turns providing dessert and coffee for each meeting and there’s a festive pot-luck luncheon and holiday party every December and a picnic in August. In the early years, tea was served after each program with responsibility for pouring rotating amongst the members. In 2009, the Club hosted a 75th Anniversary Silver Tea in honor of its founding members and past presidents.