The Novato Garden Club was organized February 27, 1934 with a mission to create and stimulate interest in home gardening in the mild climate of Novatos "Valley of the Gentle Seasons". Mrs. Madge Wells was the first president. One of the first meetings minutes recorded: " a short talk on camellias...After the meeting eleven cents were collected on plant sales."
Meetings were held weekly during the first month and monthly thereafter in members' homes. Dues were 10cents per month and at the second meeting a committee was appointed to plan their first Garden Party!
Projects in the first year included planting the depot oval, helping with school landscaping, planting trees along the highway, entering exhibits in the Marin Country Club flower show and holding a tea with a floral show in the Novato Community House.
The years of WWII found members taking part in varied activities of civilian defense. Many members volunteered at the local Red Cross center. Club meetings were suspended in 1944 and resumed in 1945, when dues were $1.
To meet the demands of a growing community for a larger, more diversified group, the Garden Club sponsored the organization of a Novato Improvement Club. A tea was held at the Community House to inaugerate the activities of the Novato Garden and Improvement Club (NGIC) in February 1949. The Garden Club became a section of the new club.
In 1961 the Garden Club separated from the NGIC and again became the Novato Garden Club, incorporating in 1965 with the stated purpose "to create and stimulate interest in gardening and city beautification".
City beautification remains an important goal of the Clubs activities to this day. The ongoing project of planting and maintaining decorative planters along Redwood Boulevard is one of the most visible endeavors. In 1993 water hook-ups eased the work of volunteers at the corner planters. Both North Marin Water District and the city of Novato deserve credit for supplying the piping. In 1995 signs were installed noting the assistance of NGC in keeping these corners beautiful with attractive containers.
Past projects of City Beautification have included:
- planting liquid amber trees along Grant Avenue in 1960
- planting traffic islands on Highway 101 in 1965
- landscaping the Community House in 1967
- assisting in purchase of shrubs and trees for Pioneer Park in 1970
- completing & dedicating the Mabel Hartman Fountain on Grant & Redwood in 1982
- assisting in designing and replanting the library's atrium in 1997
- purchasing and planting the arbor at the Novato History Museum
- donating to Lu Sutton School's garden project in 1998
Many of the Club's current activities are rooted in earlier traditions. The first Tasting Luncheon was held in the fall of 1959 when members brought in specially prepared dishes to share; the tradition continues at the annual Valentines Gala Luncheon. An annual plant sale fundraiser began in the 1950s and has been known as the May Mart since 1969. The first Christmas Bazaar was held in 1965 and in 1967 it became jointly sponsored by the Garden Club and City Parks and Recreation; it's now known as the the Holiday Faire and is the site of our major fundraiser selling wreaths and holiday arrangements.