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News: Founders Fund Award - A Catalyst For Civic Engagement


March 18, 2020

The Augusta Garden Club’s Project Dogwood

The Augusta Garden Club (AGC) has been planting dogwoods since its inception 100 years ago. In 1935 the city manager, J.C. Ruff envisioned making Staunton the dogwood capital of Virginia. Over the years the city, AGC and civic organizations planted over 2,500 dogwoods. Unfortunately, the great depression, World War II, and an anthracnose blight destroyed Mr. Ruff’s vision along with many of the trees. The AGC revived Mr. Ruff’s efforts and launched Project Dogwood in 2013. After three years and many accomplishments, the AGC hoped to expand the project and applied and won the GCA’s Founders Fund Runner-Up Award in 2017, which inspired additional significant civic support for dogwood restoration in Staunton.

For 100 years, the Augusta Garden Club (AGC) has been involved in gardening and landscaping projects in Staunton, Virginia. In the early years, the club planted 228 dogwood trees along an historic city avenue. Reviving Mr. Ruff’s vision for Staunton to become the dogwood capital of Virginia, the AGC joined efforts with the city’s horticulturalist and selected and planted an additional 67 trees in Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park. A teaching arboretum was installed that includes seven hybrids and illustrated signs depicting the cultivars and club project. 

With the Founders Fund award, the AGC planted dogwoods in socially-diverse parks and schools. Illustrated signs teach all ages about disease resistant dogwoods. With the award and new plans, other civic organizations and individuals were inspired to contribute to Project Dogwood, providing the needed funding to extend the project. 

The AGC recently partnered with Habitat for Humanity to enliven a green space in a neighborhood project adjacent to its newly-built and refurbished homes. Funded with their additional awards, the AGC will write and produce a children’s book with curriculum resources about conservation--told from the perspective of a dogwood tree in Staunton.

The AGC, a beacon of civic engagement, celebrated its many achievements and centennial in 2019. 



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