Founded in 1926, the Federated Garden Club of St. Augustine was one of the earliest clubs in Florida.
Our first President was Miss Julia Hopkins, later to become Mrs. Arthur Sackett.
At that time we were part of the Northern District of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.
In 1933 the Northern District became District III.
During the years between 1927-1929, the Florida Federation decided that their clubs were becoming
very unwieldy in number and decided to break them up into Circles.
Florida is the only state organized in this manner.
Our first circles that we have a record of were called Iris and Cherokee.
The first lady to serve as District Director from St. Augustine was Mrs. H. N. Rodenbaugh in 1936-1937.
At that time she had clubs in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Ocala and St. Augustine.
Mrs. Rodenbaugh never served as President of the Garden Club of St. Augustine.
Added in 1939, Hibiscus and Las Adelfas are our oldest Circles still in the Club. Camellia Circle joined in 1947 following the
Second World War, founded by young mothers who brought their babies with them to meetings. The Amaryllis Circle joined
the club in 1949, founded by members living in the northeast part of the city, along San Marco Avenue. Gaillardia Circle came
one year later in 1950 to serve the Vilano Beach area.
The Club was organized at that time with a Governing Board consisting of the President, elected officers, Federation Committee
Chairmen and the Chairman or President of each circle. They met four times a year and had joint meetings with the rest of the
members of the Federation shortly after each Governing Board meeting. The yearbooks during that time listed the clubs in the
order of their founding: Iris, Cherokee, Hibiscus, Las Adelfas, Camellia, Amaryllis, Gaillardia, Azalea and Magnolia.
The oldest Club yearbook this editor was able to find was 1949. Apparently before that time, each Circle kept their own
yearbook, but there was no joint book. In 1954, four districts were added to the Florida Federation and St. Augustine
became part of District IV as we know it today.
In 1955 at the end of the administration of Miss Anna Heist, (her second, as she was also president from 1931-1933), the nominating committee
could not find anyone willing to serve as President. It was decided that each Circle would
federate with the Florida Federation separately and become individual clubs. Apparently for two years they never met together. A sad time for
In 1957 the Circles decided they needed one another and elected Mrs. Chester V. Loach, a member of the Hibiscus Circle to be President of
"The Presidents' Council, Garden Clubs of St. Augustine". There were then nine clubs: Amaryllis, Azalea, Camellia, Carissa, Cherokee,
Gaillardia, Hibiscus, Iris and Las Adelfas.
The yearbooks starting in 1957 list the clubs in alphabetical order. Shortly thereafter, in late 1957 Poinsettia came into the Council, serving the
downtown and Davis Shores, meeting 3 times a year at night and the other six times in the afternoon.
In 1961, the Council incorporated and became the "Garden Clubs of St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Inc." Dogwood Garden Club,
organized in 1962, and federated in 1963 would serve the northwest section of the city. Also founded in 1962, the Woodland Garden Club was
formed by ladies living on Anastasia Island. Dianthus joined in 1972 as the Dianthus Club, the second club to meet at night as it's members
generally were/are working women. In 1977 the "Presidents' Council" was added to the name, making it "Presidents' Council of Garden Clubs of
St. Augustine and St. Johns County, Inc." A name it enjoyed for 19 years. It must have been the longest name for a garden club in the history of
the garden clubs in the
The St. Augustine Shores Club was founded in 1978 to serve the St. Augustine Shores area south of the city. In 2006 the Shores Geranium
Circle voted to drop “Shores” from their name and became the Geranium Circle. Shamrock was organized in 1986 to serve the newly developed
area called St. Augustine South.
Before 1965 when we moved into "The Garden Center" on San Marco Ave., the Council (and before that, the Club) met in several places
including the YMCA and the Chamber of Commerce Board room at the Civic Center. Our flower shows were held at the Armory downtown.
In 1988, our yearbook was put on computer disc, dropping the cost of the yearbook by more than half.
In 1996, during the administration of Barbara Conrad, it was decided that the clubs should resign from the Florida Federation and rejoin as
Circles of "The Garden Club of St. Augustine", to be in compliance with the rest of the state. The transition was completed in the Spring of 1997,
with 11 Circles: Amaryllis, Azalea, Camellia, Dianthus, Dogwood, Gaillardia, Hibiscus, Las Adelfas, Poinsettia, Shamrock and Shores Geranium.
In 1968, the Woodland Club decided to drop out of the Council and remained independent until 2000 when they were welcomed back into the
Club. The geographical lines of the individual clubs have long since disappeared and every Circle enjoys members from all over the County.
Over the years several clubs/circles have resigned from the Garden Club. The Iris Club decided it's members were no longer able to serve and
dropped out in 1983. Cherokee decided to drop out of the Council in 1994 and disbanded shortly thereafter. Also Azalea (1952-2002),
Carissa (1952-1967), Hastings – Elkton (1957-1966), Wisteria (1964-1968), Magnolia, the Men's Garden Club and Staghorn (2001-2003) have
Floralines Guild, a design group which includes members from all circles, was started in 1993, and is flourishing.
Previously Flower Shows were held every other year, but the Floralines group now organizes a show every year.
In 2004 the club decided to move our flower shows to the St. Johns County Agricultural Center as an adjunct to the
EPIC Spring Garden and Flower Expo, held the third weekend in April.
THE New GARDEN CENTER
In 2005, after 40 years of occupying the Garden Center, the Club began major renovations of the San Marco building. At that time city building
inspectors declared the building unsafe for occupancy. The City of St. Augustine decided not to invest in necessary repairs and terminated the
lease agreement with the Garden Club. While looking for a new permanent home the Club held meetings at the Lighthouse Community Center.
In 2006 the club located a building at 3440 Old Moultrie Road as a possible location for a new Garden Center.
The building had been boarded up since 1987 when St. Johns County purchased it. In 2007 St. Johns County agreed to lease the building to the
Garden Club for 30 years. The County renovated the building bringing it up to code.
The Garden Club has completed the interior and has landscaped the grounds using native, Florida friendly plants to define parking and walking
paths. Plans are underway to expand the gardens while continuing to enhance the building and property.
The Garden Club of St Augustine Inc. applied for status as a public charity 501(c)(3) organization and was approved - effective 5/5/11. As a 501
(c)(3) charity, contributions received are tax deductible under section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions, including membership
fees, made by individuals can be used as a tax deductible donation as allowed by law. (Not included in a donation would be goods or services
received as part of the donation.)
In January 2012 a portion of the membership of Camellia Circle voted to leave the Garden Club of St. Augustine. Those members who chose to
continue on as part of the Garden Club of St. Augustine, reorganized Camellia Circle and in May 2012 installed their new officers.
In May 2012 the membership of the Garden Club voted to expand the existing Garden Center building so as to accommodate an increasing
membership and fulfill the Club’s desire to provide more community education programs. The Club decided to set a monetary target of fifty
thousand dollars to be raised within three years, by May 2015. A pledge drive has been established and many fundraisers planned to acquire
sufficient funds to reach this target.
In September 2013, the Club initiated the Circle Grant projects, which encourage each Circle to participate in community outreach. It has proven
to be a successful program and has brought a National Garden Club Award to the Hibiscus Circle for their work.. In May, 2015, the Dogwood
Circle disbanded. Happily, many of their members joined other Circles.
The financial target for our building addition was met in 2015 and, starting in October 2015, the construction of the Old Moultrie clubhouse
addition began and was officially completed in January 2016.
In March of 2016, the Sunflower Circle was formed. In the last several years, the club has started ongoing programs like “Fun with Flowers”; an
Environment and Conservation Study Group, which among other projects, awards local school teachers stipends to support their horticultural
programs and during the out of school summer months a set of programs called “Nature’s Detectives” are held at the different County Libraries
to teach children (and their parents who attend with them) about plants, insects, birds and animals, their environments, their lives and the
conservation we must protect.
Adding to the history is ongoing.
|HISTORY OF THE GARDEN CLUB OF ST. AUGUSTINE
|Garden Club of St. Augustine, Inc.
Founded in 1926
|2016/17 saw the completion of the
addition to the Garden Center.
|The Garden Center
3440 Old Moultrie Road
The memorial brick
|"The Garden Center"
The home of the
Garden Club of St. Augustine
for 40 years.
184 San Marco Avenue