Garden Club History
The story of what is now the Garden Club of Indian River County, Inc. is the
story of the very remarkable women who were its leaders and inspiration.
Organized in 1928 as the Vero Beach Garden Club, its first president was
Mrs. Winchester Fitch of New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut. Mrs.
Fitch was a member of the Garden Club of America, an officer of the
Greenwich Garden Club and a winter resident of Vero Beach. She brought her
garden club knowledge to Vero Beach and set out enthusiastically with a
coterie of likeminded women toward a program of city beautification.
In 1931 the Vero Beach Garden Club became the Indian River Garden Club.
Membership in the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs was granted in 1933.
Garden circles were formed as membership increased. Circles today continue
their own tradition of community beautification. The Indian River Garden
Club formally became the Garden Club of Indian River County in 1950 and was
incorporated in 1960. During that decade, 300 members joined Mrs. J. Hubert
Graves in seeking a suitable site for a permanent Garden Club home. Her
dedication to its accomplishment came about in 1968 when ground was broken
for a building that stands today in worthy commemoration of the Club's
formation 82 years ago.
From its beginnings, Garden Club beautification programs concentrated on
parks, schools, roadways and buildings. In 1944 planting of the oaks on
Victory Blvd. was a Garden Club project that remains today. Over the years,
assistance has broadened to include non-profit organizations, such as the
Heritage, Inc., the Salvation Army, Indian River Habitat for Humanity,
Homeless Family Center, the American Red Cross, Abilities Resource Center,
Hibiscus Children's Home and Redlands Christian Migrant Center among others.
In 2003, the Garden Club planted the median between the Barber Bridge and
Royal Palm Pointe in memory of those who perished on September 11, 2001.
More recent assistance has gone toward scholarships in environmental
horticulture at the University of Florida, re-landscaping the Vero Beach
Theatre Guild, the Vero Beach Woman's Club, the Hallstrom House, and toward
the teaching garden at the Gifford Youth Activity Center. Landscaping at the
Mueller Campus of Indian River State College was recently provided for the
rear lawn of the new Brackett Library.
Plans are under way this year to re-landscape the front of the Heritage
The Garden Club supports McKee Botanical Garden each year as a Gatekeeper.
Flower Shows displaying the floral artistry of members have been the
mainstay of the Garden Club since 1928. Civic projects are supported by the
Garden Club Annual Christmas Ornament, which started in 1992 and depicts
city and county sites of historical interest and Gardenfest!, an
increasingly popular garden event held in Riverside Park since 2002.