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A Moment in GCA History


July 30, 2019

Venturing to England as Horticultural Ambassadors - Returning with Renewed Conservation Intent.

True to its purpose, The Garden Club of America continually seeks to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening. In this spirit of horticultural thirst, it has created many opportunities for learning about diverse gardening practices and flora near and far.

Assisted by The English-Speaking Union, The National Gardens Scheme, and the Royal Horticultural Society, one such journey unfolded in 1965 when 120 GCA club members crossed “the pond” to tour gardens in England. 

This intercontinental exchange, which combined themes of horticulture and history, lasted three weeks allowing for venue and garden tours “from Chelsea to Kew.” The GCA attendees marked each event by presenting copies of the GCA’s celebratory history, Fifty Blooming Years, to everyone they met.

The GCA president at the time, Mrs. Erastus Corning II, described the visit as “no ordinary trip, as all of the tours were escorted by horticultural experts of international fame.” The sentiment was echoed by many who declared this interchange the perfect opportunity to learn from Great Britain’s most noted horticultural authorities. Every day provided more “advancement of education” and everyone returned home with handbooks “bulging in rich horticultural notes” that would be shared across the United States. 

During the trip’s farewell dinner in London, Mrs. Corning concluded her remarks with an unexpected discovery made on the trip, “… but one aspect has struck us all and this we shall bring back with us—the total absence of billboards. Nowhere have we seen these hideous atrocities, which we have permitted to despoil our own country. Strengthened by this knowledge, we must return with our minds firmly made up to abolish them. It should be the solemn vow of everyone privileged to have taken this trip to get to work immediately on this greatest of all lessons learned here.” Since 1914 the GCA has been working to protect the natural landscape addressing the visual, safety, and environmental hazards of billboards.

Photo Caption: "Mrs. Erastus Corning II (GCA President 1962 -1965) is welcomed to Savill Gardens by Sir Eric Savill in 1965. 


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