1931 – 2021
Compiled by Susanna Hegnes, August 2021
The Fox Chapel Garden Club has made many remarkable contributions to our community in conservation, preservation, education, and horticulture. Our Club has been inspired by a very big ‘Can Do’ attitude since its inception in 1931.
In 1931, the community was small and only men belonged to the District Association. The borough itself wasn’t incorporated until 1934. In those days of the great depression Mrs. A.P. Meyer had more on her mind than just flower arranging. Ella Miller Myer joined with Mrs. Harold Nomer, the two Misses Langenheim and 26 women in the area to form the Fox Chapel Garden Club (FCGC). Ella Miller Myer was elected as our first president from 1931-1936. She obviously thought that women should have an influence in the future planning and planting of the Fox Chapel community, as well as in preserving the natural beauty of our district.
In 1935 our Club financed the Master Plan for Fox Chapel Borough created by landscape architect, Ezra Stiles. The plan provided for designated parklands, protection of the watershed, and maintaining the natural beauty that has made Fox Chapel a unique Pittsburgh suburb.
Another outstanding contribution to the tri-state area was the creation and continued support of the Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center. In 1935 it was again Mrs. Meyer who called upon other garden clubs in the Pittsburgh area to share horticultural information and advice on good gardening practices, speakers and literature. It was then that the Pittsburgh Civic Garden Center was formed in a central location. In 1948 it moved to the current location in the carriage house of the former R.B. Mellon estate. The first three presidents of the Center over a 24-year span were from our Club. Proceeds from our booth at the garden market helped support the Garden Center for many years.
The FCGC was instrumental in saving the area now known as the Trillium Trail from becoming a housing development. Thankfully for all of us in 1946, Ruth Boyles, a member of the FCGC, and her husband Dick Boyles, then the borough manager, bought the property and held onto it until our club and the District Association worked out the details which enabled the Borough to purchase what is now known as the Trillium Trail for wildlife and flower preservation in 1948. For this project, our club received the highest award given by the National Council of State Garden Clubs – the Green Ribbon Conservation Award.
Educating children about the environment has been an important part of our work. Due to the influence of two of our members, Ruth Boyles and Ruth Scott, our club started environmental presentations in the elementary schools. Later, our club began educational walks for elementary students at the Trillium Trail, Blue Run Trail, and at Emmerling and Salamander Parks. In 1949 we awarded a scholarship to Beulah Frey, a local biology teacher, to attend training in conservation practices. Beulah later started and coordinated the environmental education program for the Fox Chapel Area School District for many years.
Garden therapy was another important form of community service undertaken by the FCGC. In the 1950’s garden therapy programs were carried out by our members at Leech Farm Hospital and the Veterans Hospital on Delafield Road. In 1975 a garden therapy program was initiated at Harmarville Rehabilitation Hospital – now Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Harmarville. For 31 years volunteers from our club worked weekly with patients and their therapists. In 1996 FCGC created an outdoor garden designed by FCGC member Shelley Stoecklein at the Rehabilitation Hospital to be used by patients and therapists.
In 1998, club members hatched a plan in FCGC president Nancy Vincett’s home, to start a new fund raising event. That December they launched the first Holiday Auction for members and guests. This event has grown geometrically over the years and became our major annual holiday community event and fundraiser called ‘Glitter and Glow’ which is now always a sell out with about 250 people attending. The proceeds from the event are donated on an annual basis by our club to local organizations and programs which are in line with the FCGC Mission to further the appreciation of gardening and to advocate sound environmental stewardship.
Mary’s Garden at the Fox Chapel Area High School was created in 2001 in honor of Mary Succop, for her active commitment to the school’s community. The garden was designed to be a place of instruction, observation, and meditation for our school students and the community. Working with school personnel, particularly teacher Ron Frank, and other community volunteers, the Fox Chapel Garden Club was very involved in the original design, building, and planting of the garden. Mary’s Garden creates valuable green space at the high school with multiple uses dictated by its many visitors. Students, young and old, regularly come to the garden to draw, photograph, paint, and write. A variety of environmental/biology classes study the endless changes in the flora and fauna as the garden grows from season to season. Students are also actively involved in the garden’s annual maintenance. The garden plantings were carefully chosen to peak during the school year and to educate all about Pennsylvania native plants. The garden is wheelchair accessible to include all in our community. Our Club has continued to support Mary’s Garden over the past twenty years by regularly tending the garden, sharing native plants from our own gardens, as well as with annual financial donations.
The Fox Chapel Garden Club’s Conservation and Environmental Watch programs take on important recycling issues and coordinate an annual community-wide recycling program of tennis shoes. Our Club was awarded a National Garden Club Federation Award in 2009 for this project. The Conservation and Environmental Watch Committee regularly informs our membership of important environmental and conservation issues and opportunities.
In 2011 Community Gardenfest was started by FCGC in conjunction with the Lauri Ann West Community Center as a grassroots local garden market event. Other local garden clubs and community organizations joined to participate in the event. It is now run annually in May by the Community Center. What began as a venue to sell plants dug from members’ gardens and share garden knowledge morphed into a popular day-long festival with children’s activities, plant sales, an artists’ market, food and workshops.
The Welcome Garden at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library was planted in 2011 by Jim Mitnick to honor his wife, Fritz. Fritz is an Active Member in our Club and has served as our president in 2002-2004. Maps with plant identification are available to library patrons. The garden has seating to provide visitors a place to read, chat or snack, and is used for library programs. In 2012, the garden received the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s Community Greening Award. Our Club continues to provide regular funding for new plants and hardscape, and many members help with general maintenance.
The year 2011 continued to be an auspicious year for the Fox Chapel Garden Club as it was also the founding year of our Club’s Website. The website has earned numerous awards since its inception. It provides a wonderful source of information and communication for our members and the community.
In 2016, our Club was proud to sponsor our inaugural Fox Chapel Garden Club Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to a Fox Chapel Area High School Senior who plans to attend a two- or four-year college, university or technical school. The scholarship winner is selected based on an application, reference letter, and a 500-word essay related to a given prompt. The scholarship is open to all senior students regardless of their intended major. We believe that, like our own Club, gardening and nature enthusiasts can come from a variety of backgrounds, interests, and professions.
Our amazing events, Glitter & Glow, Annual Annual Adventure, and Community Gardenfest, have empowered our Club to have a major impact on the community programs that we support annually with financial donations. In addition to our ongoing annual donations, over the past twelve years we have been able to fulfill eight major pledges of $10,000 each to the following organizations:
As members of the Fox Chapel Garden Club, we are proud to be part of this amazing organization as we carry on that ‘Can Do’ attitude started 90 years ago by our founders, and continues to be passed on by all the many members who participated in Club activities for nearly a century.
See the appended pdf of the scanned document which was found with some archived yearbooks. The scanned document was pieced together from a multipage goldenrod colored legal paper sized document in a scroll format with a ribbon.
Also see a listing of shrubs and trees, Ornamentals What's Tried, What's True, that was located at the same time as the 50th Year Anniversary Document.
/Portals/0/Ornamentals What's Tried What's True_1_1.pdf?ver=lBuk-5dRRKbAyga6RqU44Q%3d%3d