A blooming century!

The Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club announces its centennial events.


Spring has sprung, and the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club is buzzing with activity as it gears up for the summer season. The club, with its 207 members, is honoring its centennial with various offerings that celebrate its stunning history. It was founded in 1924 by Edgartown resident Mrs. Agnes Miekleham. From the beginning, the club has set out to promote the knowledge and love of gardening and horticulture through education, and to enhance and protect the beauty of our fragile Island.

First up is one of the club’s perennial favorites, “Blooming Art,” a fundraiser at its summer home, the Old Mill in West Tisbury. The building is no ordinary location for an exhibition. The dilapidated Old Mill was scheduled to be torn down in 1937. Given its historical significance, Miekleham and two other members rented it until the Garden Club acquired the property in 1942.

Nancy Cabot (floral design committee co-chair) and her sister, the late Judy Bryant, originated Blooming Art in 2001 to showcase the diverse work of local artists and the talent of its Garden Club members. The current curators, Sheila Fane and Joan Cavazuti, began organizing the show earlier this year, pairing Island artists with members who create associated floral designs.

After connecting with their artist partner, the floral designers work on their botanical creations, displayed together in the exhibition. “The floral design committee works hard to support the designers, helping those who might be nervous. They arrange events with more experienced members. Just last week there was a foraging program, where they went out into the forest, and Nancy Cabot showed people how to think about using things in a little bit of a different way,” says Donna Arold, head of communications for the club. The committee alsocontacts all the nurseries and florists on the Island, asking if they will give participants a discount,because the exhibition is one of the nonprofit organization’s major fundraisers.

“Blooming Art’ runs on Friday, June 14, and Saturday, June 15, from 10 am until 5 pm, and Sunday from 10 am until 3 pm. No preregistration is necessary, and admission is $15. All the work by the 35 artists will be available for purchase, with 40 percent of the sales donated to the club by the artist. Docents will be available to answer questions about the art, artists, floral designs, the Old Mill, and the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club.

On Thursday, June 20, at 5:30 pm, Adam Wheeler, production and horticulture manager at Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden, Conn., will present “Native Plants with a Twist: Unexpected Excitement from Our Native Flora” at the Polly Hill Arboretum. Wheeler will explore the unique side of the Island’s native flora, and present his current favorite native trees and shrubs for general garden use. Registration is required. The cost is $5 for members, $10 for nonmembers. Register at bit.ly/NativePlants_Twist.

On July 16, at 1 pm, Bow van Riper, research librarian at the M.V. Museum, will celebrate the club’s rich history in his lecture, “Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club: 100 Years of Conservation and Horticulture.” The event is free to members, $10 for nonmembers.

The self-guided Edgartown Garden Stroll, another favorite fundraiser, will occur on July 25 from 10 am to 3 pm. Registrants will pick up their map at the Carnegie Heritage Center for the six private gardens in the North Water Street area, some with water views, and the garden at the Vincent House, which was built in 1672, and is the oldest surviving residence on the Vineyard. Admission will be available through the club’s website, with presale tickets for $50, and $60 on the day.

On August 1, the festive Centennial Garden Party from 4 to 6 pm will be held at the founders’ private garden on scenic Edgartown Harbor. Admission of $250 will be sold via the club’s website.

The annual meeting on Tuesday, August 20, at 1 pm, will include the intriguing program “Postcards from Plants,” by author C.L. Fornari, based on the question: What if you could receive regular postcards from plants that would guide you on your garden and houseplant journeys? In this humorous illustrated talk, Fornari will present tips, suggestions, and insider information to help you become a better gardenmaker or plant person. Free for members; nonmembers are $20.

All the events, fundraisers, and talks over the summer season will raise money for the club’s efforts, including the speaker series, upkeep of the Old Mill and Wakeman Center greenhouse, outreach to Windemere with volunteers who regularly work with residents on a horticultural-related project, and college scholarship funds for students interested in pursuing landscape, horticultural, or environmental careers.

To learn more about the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club, the Old Mill, and upcoming centennial events, or to make a charitable donation, visit marthasvineyardgardenclub.org.