Email from Marlene McKinnis:
“In response to your request, please find as attachment a short history of the Bronxville Working Gardeners.
We are at present a group of 35 members, a mix of men and women who live in Bronxville and vicinity.
In the past, we have had a very close relationship with the NY Botanical Garden and present members work there as volunteers or attend lectures there.
Membership policies – interested parties have to be invited to join.
Projects – Bi-Centennial Park, Bronxville and close collaboration with Bronxville Beautification Council.
Please note: we are celebrating our 85th birthday!
Contact info – Marlene McKinnis, President, 779-7270.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Bronxville Working Gardeners
The Bronxville Working Gardeners was formed 85 years ago in 1925 by an accomplished gardener, and well-known writer of books on gardening, Louise Beebe Wilder. She was a columnist for many gardening magazines, and also for the New York Times. She lived in the Village and had a garden here and had also a larger garden, “Balderbrae”, in Suffern. New York. She wrote extensively about both. Her books were published here and in England, and her influence on horticulture in the United States has been compared to that of Gertrude Jekyll in England.
In 1925 Mrs. Wilder and sixteen friends who shared her love of gardening met at the home of Mary Campbell at 43 Oriole Avenue, subsequently the home of Working Gardener President, John Von Sneidern, who kept a wonderful garden there for many years. The founders were dedicated to serious gardening in the English tradition: perennials over annuals, and mixed borders with multiple stations of bloom through the seasons. They agreed too, to dedicate themselves to the study of horticulture and in fact they conducted horticultural experiments on which they reported regularly at their monthly meetings.
As Lucia Meigs Andrews points out in The Story of the Working Gardeners of Bronxville, “Life for the Working Gardeners is far from being all work and no play….members rejoice to get out and go places when nature calls with her beauties of spring and fall..” And we do continue to have field trips with picnics, and annual dinners that mix, as she says “…fun and horticulture”.
The Working Gardeners also have a tradition of village service. In 1948 at the request of the Mayor and Trustees to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Village the Working Gardeners were asked to organize the funding and planting of Dogwood Hill. Then In 1961 the Village acquired a property at 5 Garden Avenue, below Dogwood Hill, to build the Village tennis courts and asked the Working Gardeners to assist because of their “past experience and knowledge”. The club President, Mary Todd appointed from among the Working Gardener members a Village Beautification Committee, which was accepted by the Trustees, and that committee became “…officially the Beautification Committee of the Village of Bronxville.” The idea of service to the village has continued to this day, with members taking lead roles in Village beautification, and generally helping with plantings and pruning at Centennial Park, and the Railroad Station.
We have tried not to stray from the traditions of our founders. We all share a love of gardening, and we are indeed “dirt gardeners”. We wish to serve the Village. Interest in gardening has also brought us together as friends. We intend to continue to maintain these traditions for at least another 85 years.