Since its inception in 1924, the Mystic Garden Club celebrates 90 years of good works, and today it remains committed to bringing beauty to the village of Mystic.
The club raises over $40,000 a year and donates all proceeds back to the community in the form of scholarships to local students and money for projects for local non-profit organizations.
One recent contribution was to Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center to aid in its acquisition of the Coogan Farm. It regularly contributes to the nature center as well as Mystic & Noank Library and Mystic Arts Center among many others.
The club plants and maintains flower boxes downtown and regularly cleans Mystic Depot on Roosevelt Avenue.
The foresight of the women can be seen throughout the village. In its first year a small group of thirty women took on the Herculean task of planting Baptist Hill Ledge. Today the ledge has become a beautiful scenic entrance to the west side of the river.
In 1936 the group continued its beautification efforts by planting trees on Willow Street and Broadway, and after the hurricane of 1938 they replaced downed elm trees. Today the canopy of mature trees are cherished and can be seen along Main Street from the bridge to CVS, on New London Road, Mystic Seaport Museum, Shipyard Point, Mystic and Noank Library, and dogwoods along Allyn and Godfrey streets and Pequot Avenue.
It was the first in the state to identify Dutch Elm Disease and bring it to the attention of state officials in 1925. Unfortunately it wasn’t until 1935 that the beetle was recognized for the destruction it caused, and finally $25,000 was granted to rid Connecticut of the beetle.
Working with the Boys and Girls scouts and Camp Fire Girls the club fought the tent caterpillar by searching out and burning them throughout the area in the 1930s.
The club was ahead of its time when it campaigned against litter and lobbied for a public dump in 1936 so residents would no longer have to burn their garbage. It was also during those early years that signs were installed by the club at the entrance to town asking residents to pick up trash. The group also led the fight in controlling bill boards on Connecticut highways.
Work might have slowed during WWII, but the group continued to raise money for war relief by holding plant sales, selling Christmas wreaths and needlepoint. Donations were made to the American Red Cross, British War Relief and Salvation Army.
Today, the annual Greens Sale, held the first weekend in December and held at Mystic Arts Center, is its largest fundraiser. Proceeds are disseminated to local organizations and high school seniors.
Members meet monthly at Mary Elizabeth to work with residents designing flower arrangements, and they continue their beautification efforts with Adopt a Highway. They hold an annual plant sale in June at the Library Fair at Mystic & Noank Library with all proceeds benefiting the library. Plants include many heirlooms and tried and true hardy varieties harvested from member gardens.
The club holds monthly meetings at Mystic Congregational Church where featured lecturers provide informative talks on gardening, conservation and floral arranging.
The group has been recognized both nationally and locally for its many good works and beautification projects. It is now a 60-member organization with 30 additional associate members. It continues to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening.