In 1906, nine gardeners decided to regularly share and expand their knowledge of gardening. They called themselves “The Nine of Spades” and in time they grew to become The Short Hills Garden Club. In 1913 the SHGC became a founding member of The Garden Club of America. Two of its earliest members, Mrs. Edward B. Renwick and Mrs. John A. Stewart, Jr., represented the club at the GCA’s founding meetings in 1913. Mrs. Stewart went on to serve as the fourth president of the GCA and become a founder of the Save the Redwoods organization. Another highly distinguished founding member, Mrs. Charles Stout, was a noted authority on dahlias and wrote a definitive reference book on the subject.
Through the years, the SHGC has been dedicated to horticulture, flower arrangement, conservation, and community service. With a generous gift from a club member and her husband in 1979, the Club created a gazebo and a four-quadrant rose garden in Taylor Park in Millburn. The SHGC continues to maintain the Wallbridge Rose Garden as one of its primary civic projects. Today the Wallbridge Rose Garden is included in the Archives of American Gardens at the Smithsonian Institute. In 1975, the SHGC assumed stewardship of the Millburn Community Garden for the enjoyment of area residents. In 2013, it became one of only sixteen community gardens, and the first in New Jersey, to be accepted into the Archives of American Gardens. In addition to these two public gardens, many members’ private gardens have also been documented and are included among the Archives at the Smithsonian. To celebrate the year 2000, the club landscaped the public grounds across from the Short Hills Train Station. Members plant and care for the window boxes at the Short Hills Train Station. An endowment created through a member’s generosity in honor of the club’s centennial has helped to underwrite civic projects. The club’s annual plant sale supports a number of township civic and beautification projects. The membership has been instrumental in establishing and supporting the Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and the Township Beautification League.
In 2021, The Short Hills Garden Club merged with the Garden Club of the Oranges (which had joined the GCA in 1923). Together, both clubs are now known as The Short Hills Garden Club. Our membership continues the traditions of the founding members by sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for horticulture, floral design, civic improvement, conservation, photography, and garden history and design.
The Garden Club of the Oranges began in 1918 as a branch of the Farm and Garden Association, a wartime effort to stimulate interest in growing and preserving fruits and vegetables. The GCO joined the Garden Club of America in 1923. It was also a founding member of the Federated Garden Clubs of New Jersey.
Since its inception, members of the Garden Club of the Oranges were actively involved in all aspects of the Garden Club of America’s mission. In its early years, the club’s members served on the board of the New York Flower Show, as well as exhibiting and winning medals there. During World War II, the Garden Club of the Oranges sent seeds and garden tools to England, collected money for “Bundles for Britain”, and provided a community garden for local residents to grow “Victory Gardens” back home.
Over the years, GCO members served on numerous national GCA committees, entered national and international flower shows and won awards at the club, zone and national levels for propagation, horticulture, flower arranging, creative leadership and community service.
Originally founded in Llewellyn Park, the club expanded into neighboring communities. The Garden Club of the Oranges was active throughout Essex County, as well as on the New Jersey Committee of Garden Club of America. Over the years, the GCO:
• Restored and maintained the greenhouses at Glenmont, Thomas A. Edison’s home in Llewellyn Park.
• Planted more than 3,000 daffodils bulbs near Rte. 280 in West Orange to commemorate those who died on 9/11.
• Designed and planted perennial borders and a vegetable garden at Durand Hedden House in Maplewood.
• Designed and planted a courtyard garden at Maplewood Middle School.
• Planted specimen trees in Llewellyn Park and a row of Callery pears at the Highland Avenue train station in Orange.
• Planted and maintained the oval at Glenmont.
• Restored and maintained the rose garden at the West Orange Library.
• Landscaped Isaiah House, a shelter for homeless families in East Orange.
• Planted shrubs and perennials at Turtle Back Zoo.
• Renovated plantings at the Red Cross headquarters in East Orange.
• Supported the Greater Newark Conservancy’s community outreach program in gardening activities at inner city elementary schools.
The Edison greenhouses are a wealth of information, and there is so much knowledge to be shared. We are fortunate that the Garden Club of the Oranges has preserved this treasure for generations to come and that the National Park system works with volunteers to achieve its preservation.
In 2021, the Garden Club of the Oranges merged with The Short Hills Garden Club. Together both clubs are now known as The Short Hills Garden Club.