The Westport Garden Club, originally founded in 1950, was invited to affiliate with the Garden Club of America in 1956. Early partnerships with Linda Hall Library and Gardens as well as The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art set the tone for a future of engagement with area civic, conservation and horticultural activities. WGC’s mission has continued to evolve and currently incorporates the following areas of interest:
Conservation: Conservation has always been an important focus for WGC members. In 1974, WGC Conservation and Horticulture Committees sponsored a symposium on “The Ecology of the Midwest Flyway and Prairie Flora.” Currently, members participate in native seed collection and invasive plant eradication at Jerry Smith Park, a project that links WGC with GCA Partners for Plants. A 2016 botanical survey of the park, made possible by funding from The Westport Garden Club (through Partners for Plants) and Burroughs Audubon, provided scientific proof of the biological integrity and quality of Jerry Smith’s remnant prairie.
Each year, a WGC Conservation delegate attends the GCA National Affairs and Legislation (NAL) meeting in Washington, D.C. The meeting is a rare opportunity to meet with legislators on federal policy initiatives that relate to the GCA’s mission and to hear from cutting edge scientists about the state of the environment.
Hazardous waste is collected every year from members for proper disposal. Conservation workshops and field trips continue to educate WGC members on conservation issues.
The WGC Native Plant Initiative (now Kansas City Native Plant Initiative) was formed in the spring of 2014 to broaden native plant use within our region. Goals are two-fold: research and experimentation within our gardens and the engagement of community organizations as partners. In the spring of 2016, The Westport Garden Club oversaw the installation of The Loose Park Monarch Garden. Made possible as part of a NFWF Monarch Conservation Grant awarded to The Westport Garden Club and other KCNPI Partners, and designed by Alan Branhagen, Powell Gardens, the 600 square foot Monarch demonstration garden provides an excellent opportunity to inform the public about the importance of incorporating native plants within our gardens. Ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of The Westport Garden Club. As part of its commitment to the promotion of native plants within the garden, WGC also initiated its first Native Plant Sale fundraiser in the spring of 2016.
Education: The WGC continues the tradition of offering educational and creative workshops and study groups in horticulture and flower arranging – and most recently photography. The Garden History and Design committee continues to actively document area gardens for submission to the Smithsonian Institute’s Archives of American Gardens. In the Garden, a program begun in 2011, facilitates workshops for studying gardening techniques and styles.
Past lectures co-sponsored with Gardener’s Connect and Powell Gardens have featured numerous guest speakers – most recently, the 2013 Margaret Douglas Medal recipient, Doug Tallamy. Another noted speaker, Roy Diblik, Northwind Perennial Farm offered insights on conservation and native plants.
The Scholarship Committee helps facilitate the administration of GCA scholarships and educational programs by increasing awareness of these scholarships and programs within the community.
Flower Shows: WGC has held many memorable flower shows since its early beginnings. Most recent shows include “The Proverbial Flower Show” – an in-club flower show held in 2008, “Joie de Vivre” – a GCA Flower Show featuring photography, horticulture, flower arranging and botanical arts held in 2011 and “Fleur-ishing Art: An American Impression” held in 2015.
Membership: In 2010, a new event “Wine in the Garden” invited members and guests to visit member’s gardens for cocktails and camaraderie. Field trips to The Land Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture in Salina, Kansas (and home to WGC nominated, 2012 winner of the Elizabeth Craig Weaver Proctor Medal, Wes Jackson), to Nebraska’s Rowe Sanctuary to view migration of Sand Hill cranes, Dunn Ranch Prairie to learn about prairie restoration, Barkley Rooftop Garden and the KC Cultivate Food Forest have allowed members to learn more about issues important to our club.
Partnerships: The Westport Garden Club continues to work closely with Kansas City Community Gardens, Powell Gardens, Linda Hall Library and Gardens and Kansas City Native Plant Initiative (KCNPI). Recent fundraisers benefitting our partners and other community interests include “Friends and Flowers” (2009) a boutique and luncheon with speaker Ron Morgan as speaker, “Entertaining Gardens ( 2013 and 2017), a house and garden tour, and a yearly wreath workshop which combines both fundraising and membership camaraderie. In addition, WGC assist with the annual Fall Family Festival held at Kansas City Community Gardens.
Photography: WGC members enthusiastically embraced this field which is relatively new as a WGC and GCA area of interest, participating in creative workshops, organizing an exhibition open to the public, hosting seminars and publishing an informative “how-to” guide, “Think Before You Click.”
Visit the Garden Club of America website: www.gcamerica.org.