The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood
A Proud History
In 2025, The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood will be celebrating its centennial year! So much has changed over the past 100 years, however, our mission has remained constant. We promote the fine art of gardening and appreciation of floral design, stimulate interest in the garden for its beauty and utility, support the conservation of our natural environment, and dedicate our talents to community projects.
A group named the “Garden Club of Ridgewood” was organized in November 1914. The club was restricted to men and had an initial membership of 60. Mr. Robert L. Roe was its leader and the club was active in the community, meeting monthly, making donations of flowers to hospitals and holding 2 shows per year. These shows were in June and September and included flowers, fruits and vegetables. Very little additional information on this Club remains.
In 1925, unable to join the men’s club, a group of women headed by Mrs. C.W. Stockton formed “The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood”. The club had twenty members and was a charter member of The Garden Club of New Jersey when it was organized.
During the Depression years of 1932-33, The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood was unable to pay dues to the state organization and instead became part of the Garden Department of the Women’s Club of Ridgewood. That relationship continued until 1945, when membership in The Garden Club of New Jersey was reinstated.
The Club has a long tradition of community service. For many years members would travel to the Veteran’s Hospital in East Orange, where they would decorate the day rooms and chapel and make tray arrangements. In addition, the Club participated in the showhouse at Skylands Manor in Ringwood, which is considered an exhibition opportunity for area garden clubs.
Over the years, the “Women Gardeners of Ridgewood” has continued to evolve to make contributions to the community with gardening projects including educational opportunities for adults and students, enhancement of community gardens, scholarships, garden tours and workshops.
That tradition of community service(s) continues on the local level today. The Women Gardeners designed and maintain the plantings at the Ridgewood Public Library and provides weekly flower arrangements for the library lobby. The Club designed the garden for the Share house for elderly residents on Prospect Street and supported the garden at the Children’s Services and Family Counseling building.
The Women Gardeners of Ridgewood also provides tray favors for Meals on Wheels during the holiday season and makes centerpieces for the fundraising activities of various local charities. The Club is proud of its most recent addition, a Junior Program, “Green Kids” which was started September 2007. Designed for children Grades 3 through 6, this program meets monthly to explore and discover nature, science, gardening, art, birding, weather, recycling, environment and our senses. This award winning program has enrolled hundreds of young gardeners who interact with our members to share the experience of creating and promoting horticultural activities.
As part of its public education efforts, The Women Gardeners present bi-annual Garden Education Days featuring major speakers, workshops and boutiques. Keynote speakers have included, Marco Polo Stufano, Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill; Helen Dillon, world-renowned plantswoman, writer, lecturer, and broadcaster from Dublin, Ireland; and Lynden B. Miller, author of Parks, Plants and People – Beautifying the Urban Landscape and Director of the Conservancy Garden in Central Park. Our 2017 speaker was Martha McDowell, author of All The Presidents’ Gardens which chronicles the story of the White House gardens and how they have changed with different administrations. We are planning our next public gardening event for April 2019. Details will be available soon.
The rich and varied activities of the club are supported by a bi-annual garden tour called “Secret Gardens of Ridgewood.” Begun as part of Ridgewood’s centennial celebration in 1994, Secret Gardens of Ridgewood has become one of New Jersey’s premier garden tours, with visitors coming from all over the metropolitan region. Each garden tour showcases about a dozen spectacular gardens in our area and attracts between 500 – 1000 visitors. Our 2018 tour was a big success thanks to our sponsors, tour garden owners, tour goers, and members!