The Garden Club of Georgia was officially established on June 7 and 8, 1928, at the Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta. For this inaugural meeting, Mrs. Robert L. Cooney of Atlanta (later to become the editor of the Garden History of Georgia) served as honorary president. Following the formulation of a slate of officers, Mrs. Phinizy Calhoun of Atlanta was elected as the organization’s first official president.
A year later the Garden Club of Georgia held its first annual convention in Augusta. It was at this meeting that the primary aims of this newly established organization were announced: “To promote a love of gardening for the amateur and the professional; to protect our native trees, wild flowers and birds; and to encourage a regard for civic beauty in our various communities.”
One of the earliest and most important projects undertaken by the Garden Club was initiated in 1936. The project’s purpose was to develop a living memorial to the twelve members of the Ladies Garden Club of Athens, America’s first garden club, founded in 1891. The Garden Club of Georgia in collaboration with the University of Georgia’s Division of Landscape Architecture (later the School of Environmental Design) developed what came to be known as the Founders Memorial Garden. Located on the historic north campus of the University of Georgia, the project was begun in 1939 and completed in 1946.
The Founders Memorial Garden is a testament to the important contribution made by the Ladies Garden Club of Athens; after their inaugural meeting in 1891, the garden club movement grew. Today there are thirteen garden clubs in Athens with more than 500 members. The Garden Club of Georgia has 550 member clubs with approximately 15,000 members. Three distinct national organizations are dedicated to the promotion of gardening and horticultural pursuits in America: National Garden Clubs, Inc. (previously the National Council of State Garden Clubs), the Garden Club of America, and the Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America. The Garden Club of Georgia is federated with National Garden Clubs, Inc. (NGC). Founded in 1929, NGC is the largest garden club organization in the country, with 8,488 individual clubs in 50 states and more than 250,000 members. The primary purpose of these organizations is to foster an appreciation of gardening and to promote civic and environmental responsibility by means of education, conservation advocacy, and beautification.
Throughout its history, the Garden Club of Georgia has been involved in many useful and noteworthy activities, including educational publications and the presentation and coordination of symposiums, conferences, lectures, and educational sessions. Additional efforts have been directed at the development of arboretums and botanical gardens, roadside beautification, sign and billboard control, house and garden pilgrimages, and numerous scholarships for students in horticulture and landscape architecture.