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News: This Month in GCA History - December


December 13, 2017

If you enjoy the holiday wreaths and other greens which abound each December across our country, you likely have The Garden Club of America to thank.  In the early part of the twentieth century, holiday enthusiasts raided public lands, open spaces, and woodlands gathering holly and evergreens of all varieties. According to GCA club member and landscape architect Beatrix Farrand in her 1922 report to the GCA, “A good wreath of holly is made up of fully thirty or forty of the finest young berried twigs of an average of two years’ growth … It is therefore not difficult to understand why holly has been practically exterminated from the state of Connecticut and is growing difficult to find in New Jersey and nearby states.”  The GCA launched a campaign to rescue not only the hollies, but also western pines, Montana mountain laurel, and toyon or Christmas berry, all of which were being butchered for December decorating. Posters designed to dissuade this clipping practice, encouraging instead the purchase of farmed greens, were mounted in town halls. Clever bumper stickers reinforced the message, and letters to influential government officials were dispatched. These endeavors, along with an ongoing effort to preserve wildflowers and eliminate the “billboard menace,” brought the GCA into the public spotlight and may very well have saved the holly for future generations.


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