Rhododendron, THC's club flower

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Club History

The Takoma Horticultural Club (THC) was patterned after the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. The first meeting was held in the Takoma D.C. Public Library on March 1, 1916. Mr. D. N. Shoemaker was elected President and the club was then named the Takoma Park Horticultural Improvement Club. Membership was originally restricted to men. After three years, they discovered the indispensability of women and, in 1919, the Club's constitution was modified to admit women. This preceded by one year the nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting suffrage to women.

Flower Shows had a prominent place in the early activities of the Club as a way to stimulate the acquisition of new flower varieties. The first Narcissus, Dahlia, and Rose shows were held in 1916. Tulip and Iris shows started in 1917. (An early Iris enthusiast was B. Y. Morrison, who went on to found the National Arboretum and develop the Glen Dale azaleas.)

During World War I, the THC concentrated on the production of vegetables. It purchased and distributed seeds, obtained and developed garden sites, and sponsored the Boys and Girls Garden Club, which was a forerunner of the 4-H Clubs.

In 1923, the first Gladiolus Show was staged. Peony shows began in 1925. In the fall a combined fruit, flower, and vegetable show was held.

The Club originally offered detailed landscaping services free to members. Collective buying of plants, seeds, bulbs, and lime was a popular service. Pruning demonstrations were held, as was, a large plant exchange where members could share surplus plants.

The aims of the Club have not changed over the years, although some of the activities have changed. More recently, we:

  • hold two plant exchanges a year (spring and fall) and one indoor plant swap (winter)
  • answer questions and share information via our email group list, web site, and newsletter
  • host educational Club meetings with a variety of speakers and workshops
  • have social gatherings such as members' garden tours and two potlucks a year
  • donate to local organizations and public gardens, which promote horticultural activities and opportunities for local gardeners.
  • have donated hundreds of gardening books to local libraries
  • buy spring bulbs in bulk and re-sell them at the annual TP Street Fair as our principle fund-raising effort. If there are left over bulbs, we donate to local organizations to beautify our community.

  • photo by K. Jentz
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