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This Month In GCA History - August


August 02, 2018

California fires underscore the need for conservation leadership.

The GCA’s collaboration with Save the Redwoods League began with GCA member-at-large, Mrs. Philip V. Lansdale who introduced the idea of a program dedicated to Redwood groves preservation. The GCA was the first national organization to commit by purchasing and permanently protecting a 2,552-acre grove. Now covering more than 5,100 acres, the GCA Grove is the third-largest dedicated grove in the entire California state park system.

Funding for the GCA Grove began at the 1930 GCA Annual Meeting (Seattle), where Mrs. Lansdale proposed The Garden Club of America grove. At the end of the meeting, a private train car, filled with 100 GCA delegates, traveled to see these magnificent specimens first-hand.  

As a result, smack in the middle of the Great Depression, the GCA raised $92,000, the largest sum raised by the GCA at the time. The funds used by the State of  California assisted in the purchase of a grove on the South Fork of the Eel River in Humboldt County which was dedicated as The Garden Club of America Grove (1934). Eventually seventeen groves and more than five thousand preserved acres resulted from the GCA’s effort and investment over the years.  

At the GCA Annual Meeting held in San Francisco (1935), the program summarized the GCA’s commitment:

“From earliest times men have found it to their advantage to enter into alliances for both work and play; guilds, order of knighthood, Olympian Games. Woman, out of age-old instinct to nurture growing things, has organized a new fellowship, The Garden Club of America. Across our continent is a band of enthusiasts able to share each other’s triumphs and failures, to work together for the beauty of our land. It stands today for something unique in our aesthetic life; and on the practical side, it is an association able to carry out its plans, to move collectively and purposefully to accomplishment. One unforgettable proof of this is that group of the noblest trees in the entire world, the California Redwood Grove. Women from all parts of the country contributed to this project, many of them with no hope of themselves seeing the grove. No medal or monument could more fittingly bear testimony to the generosity and imagination of the members of The Garden Club of America, and California does not forget.”

The spirit and dedication of these GCA pioneers has not dimmed. In April, a delegation of GCA club members returned to the GCA Redwood grove to tour the site, see a new sign recounting recent GCA efforts to restore and improve access to the Grove, and to plant a new redwood tree. As fires threaten this special part of our country, Mrs. Lansdale’s vision and the GCA’s commitment to conservation remain both relevant and critical.



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