HISTORY OF THE GARDENERS' GUILD OF BRAINTREE
The evolution of a great idea
It all began at the hockey rink!
The first seeds of The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree were planted at the hockey rink! Three young mothers, Lucille Barton, Peggy McCarthy and Joan Ridge used to sit at Ridge Area in Braintree watching their sons play hockey and wish they could belong to the Braintree Garden Club. They yearned to learn more of gardening, share what they learned with the community and encourage their youngsters to contribute to the community and its beautification. However, the Braintree Garden Club held its meetings during the day and these were young women with children at home. After much planning and dreaming The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree was established – to meet on the first Monday of the month in the evening. Helen McBride, a mentor to them all shared not only her knowledge of gardening and the plants in her garden, but her knowledge of Massachusetts garden clubs with the founding members. Hence, their dreams grew into the bylaws, the goals and ideals. A membership of fifty Braintree women, eager to share and learn adopted the magnolia as their logo – a symbol of perseverance, dignity and the love of nature.
The first meeting held December 1, 1975 at the Thayer Public Library with Lucille Barton as President. Each successive meeting follows the same format, always beginning with invocation, business meeting and an education session or workshop. The sharing of refreshments compliments the social side of the club. The following year, Lucille Barton, again the president began the meeting with special wishes that the members enjoy many years together gardening and sharing knowledge.
Then the first holiday house tour was held on Angela Road at a member's home – strictly for the members' enjoyment. The live Christmas tree was decorated with tussie mussies; refreshments and boutique was held in the basement of the home. Throughout the years, a Christmas house tour and boutique continues to weave red and green threads in the tapestry of life in Braintree. Hundreds of visitors annually schedule the first Sunday in December to view a Braintree home decorated for Christmas and to purchase the fresh greens, wreaths and handcrafted items made by the members just for the boutique.
As the popularity of the organization grew proposed members were added to a waiting list and membership was capped at one hundred members. Active past presidents are exempt from the one hundred member limit. When a new members are welcomed to the club they are presented with a tussie mussie, designed by the founder, Lucille Barton, in remembrance of the decorations from the first house tour.
What It Is All About
To belong to one of the largest and most active groups in town the members must attend four meetings a year and work on at least two committees to maintain membership. This club is about giving and receiving, creating and digging and about furthering relationships. It is about mentoring and sharing fresh ideas, enthusiasm and involvement. There are many experts among the membership who are very generous in sharing their knowledge. It is reassuring to know when one is stuck with a bow, a wreath, or a swag there are talented hands and encouraging smiles, which assist with every project. As one past president says "I can do anything with my hands…just don't ask me to tap dance!"
The membership is comprised of dreamers and doers, creators and imitators, teachers and students, gardeners and gatherers, mothers and daughters, sisters and sisters in law, bakers and eaters all united in doing! Friends from childhood work together in this club, new friends are made, neighbors enjoy spending time together and Girl Scout leaders and teachers enjoy seeing their former charges as talented and contributing women.
Braintree and its citizens are the focus of The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree and continue to benefit in a myriad of ways. All the money that is raised during the year goes back to the community. Books and the plantmobile for the schools and the annual Braintree High School scholarship are major allocations. Each school in Braintree has a flowering tree planted from this club. Pond Meadow Park has always received a major donation. Plantings at Furlong Park, Plain Street Cemetery, Veterans Mall at the Town Hall, the Herb and Wildflower Garden and plantings at the Braintree Police Station are annually designed and maintained by club members. Seasonal plants at Christmas and Easter are given to Hospice for distribution. Innumerable corners and intersections are offered to businesses, local organizations and families who adopt the area and "Make Braintree a Bit More Beautiful". The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree coordinates this program with the Braintree Park Department. The planting of the flowering magnolia - the logo of the club, memorializes deceased members and special friends.
Just Ask and the Club Responds
Beautification has been an evolving process. Each project began as an individual request or an opportunity to make Braintree a more beautiful community. When the "new" library opened it was The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree who was requested to maintain the live plants. Of course, the answer was yes. Members are always ready to evaluate and tackle another project. The holiday stroll in South Braintree Square evolved from the tree lighting ceremony at the Town Hall. The first lights were purchased by the Gardeners' Guild of Braintree and increased each year. What began as a tree illumination has become the South Braintree Board of Trade magnificent holiday stroll.
Projects throughout the years include perennial plant swaps, basket luncheons, summer garden tours, public plant sales, Election Day plant and bake sales, door and window decorating contests. In addition, many fun projects, raffles and trips are offered to members. Life's celebrations are recognized with cards and plants. Hence, the object of organization "to promote interest and knowledge of gardening and beautification of our community" comes to life in so many ways through so many dedicated women.
When the club was formed the telephone committee nearly always received an answer from the member's home. Communication now involves answering machines, voice mail, secretaries, cell phones, Email and the club web site, www.neighborhoodlink.com/org/gardenersguild
For the Guild's 25th anniversary celebration, a limited edition silver pin was designed and made available to active members. It featured the club's symbol, a magnolia flower, and was engraved with "The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree – 25th Anniversary 2000-2001". What a delightful way to wear the magnolia each day!
The Gardeners' Guild of Braintree maintains a waiting list for new members and invites energetic persons who are eager to learn, anxious to serve and have a love of nature to join them in membership. No one has to be an expert - that is the magic of the Gardeners' Guild of Braintree - each member learns from another! Is that not the wonder of "history" throughout the ages!