Our History

The Garden Club of Dayton was founded on June 29, 1922 by a group of women from Oakwood, Ohio, who shared a common interest in gardening. Mrs. Harry Elstner Talbott hosted the first meeting and became the club’s initial president, serving for five years. Mrs. Frederick Rike served for two years as the second president. It is widely considered that these two women were responsible for the early success of The Garden Club of Dayton.

The objective of the club was established at that time and has changed little since 1922: “ The objective of this club shall be educational; to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening; to aid in the protection of native trees, plants, birds and other creatures; and to encourage historic preservation, civic planting and the general knowledge of nature.”

In the early years the club did much to promote the love and knowledge of gardening in the Dayton community. Almost immediately after its founding the club carried out many civic projects, ranging from beautifying the downtown area to successfully campaigning for the conservation of Christmas trees through the encouragement of planting live trees decorated with suet and seed for the birds. In 1923 the members launched a booming flower market held for three days in April at the corners of Ludlow and Fourth Streets. Sunflower seeds were distributed free to school children who were asked to plant the seeds and bring the flowers back in the fall for a competition with awards for the largest flower, tallest stalk, etc. The seeds were collected from the flowers and used to feed the birds through the winter. Additional successful projects included a program open to children regarding the planting of trees, shrubs and plants, as well as free distribution of Nasturtium and Hollyhock seeds to the local children’s hospital and other charities.

Perhaps the most striking historical notes about the club mention an annual sale held in outdoor markets for many years. Sales of items such as Three foot dogwood trees for forty cents and peach trees guaranteed to bear fruit in two years for twenty cents were commonplace.

The Garden Club of Dayton’s first flower show was held in May of 1924, featuring arrangements with Iris. It was open to all amateur growers and exhibitors, attracting seventy enthusiastic entrants who participated in this inaugural event at the Dayton Women’s Club.