The Reston Garden Club was founded in May 1970 by Joanna Davis and Diane Jowett Shoup “to encourage interest in all phases of gardening.” In 1974 it became affiliated with the National Capital Area Federation of Garden Clubs, Inc., and added civic beautification, conservation, horticultural education, and development of floral arts to its purposes.
As Reston grew, civic beautification became a major activity as members worked closely with the Walker Nature Center, Gulf Reston, Mobil, Reston Association, and other community organizations, as well as on their own. Thousands of daffodils, daylilies, azaleas, trees, and shrubs were planted throughout Reston, and many landscaping plans were developed. Public areas that benefited included the Hunter’s Woods Village Center’s central garden and its Fellowship House, the Reston Community Center, Tall Oaks Village Center, Reston Regional Library, the Embry Rucker Shelter, the Town Green, Stonegate, and each of the public schools. From 1978 to 1983 a highly successful weekly program “The Reston Garden Club Presents” appeared on Reston Cable Television.
From 1984 to 2000, the Club participated in the Reston Community Center’s Very Special Arts Festival, conducting flower arranging workshops for the special children that attended the event. Future involvement by the Club in the Festival was discontinued in 2001 due to lack of interest by the schools.
For 25 years the Greens Factory and Sale was the Club’s primary means of fund-raising. For this event, members pruned trees and shrubs at the homes of residents who volunteered them, conditioned the greens, and met as a group over several days to create wreaths, natural ornaments, swags, centerpieces, and baskets. These items were then offered for sale to the Community. The success of this sale allowed the Club to give generously back to the Community, provide scholarships to several area students, fund educational activities, and enjoy bus trips to famous gardens.
From 1987 to 1996 Club members worked on the master planning and implementation of the Town Green Garden, now part of the Fairfax County Park System. Members volunteered to weed, prune, and plant flowers, trees, and shrubs along Town Green pathways and on its sloping hillsides. Many of the plants in this part are memorial gifts to remember Club members or members’ family members.
Beginning in 1990 the Club staged an interpretive floral display at the Reston Regional Library in honor of National Library Week. Club members selected a book from the library’s collection and interpreted the title with an arrangement using only fresh plant material.
In anticipation of its 25th anniversary (1992), the Club presented to the Reston community a specially commissioned abstract sculpture by David Holland, a Washington sculptor. The sculpture was placed in a garden setting at the Reston Regional Library. This small garden has been maintained by members of the Club since that time.
In 1993, in cooperation with the Reston Association, the Club funded a research project to investigate the “mile-a-minute” plant (Persicaria perfoliata) a highly invasive and destructive plant native to Japan as little is known of its kudzu-like habits or methods for controlling.
1994 found the Club joining the “Adopt-A-Highway” program with continuing responsibility for regular litter pickups on Bowman Towne Drive and Neighboring streets. The Club also made arrangements with George Mason University Library to house past and future scrapbooks of the Reston Garden Club in their Planned Community archives/Special collections and Archives for Ongoing Projects.
In 1995 the Club celebrated 25 years as an important part of the community with member participation in six of the ten general meeting programs and “What I Learned on My Knees” a booklet of gardening tips from members.
Since 1997 the Club has worked with VDOT to bring wildflowers to Reston’s median strips with plantings of poppies, cornflowers, and cosmos. In cooperation with Reston Association 1998 brought wildflower and memorial tree plantings to other areas of Reston.
During the 1999-2000 membership year several Club members helped the Earth Savers Club at Forest Edge Elementary School plant a bird/butterfly garden at the school. Along with Kevin Monroe of Reston Association they oversaw the planting of 50 seedlings of various trees on a steep hillside beyond the garden. Also during this year Reston Association agreed to stop mowing the grassy bank next to the walking path at Lake Anne Dam and the Club provided money to R.A. to seed wildflowers there.
In June 2000 the Club co-sponsored the Reston Garden Tour with the Reston Association and the Reston Historic Trust. This highly successful tour featured fourteen residential and non-residential gardens throughout Reston including two National Wildlife Federation certified habitats.
The 2000-2001 membership year saw the certification of Reston as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat, a Reston Association -sponsored effort that started the previous membership year. Reston was the third community so certified in the US. Several Club members were closely involved in working with RA in the certification process while many other members created NWF certified gardens.
In 2001 the Club ended its affiliation with the National Federation of Garden Clubs. The Club also discontinued the December Greens Sale due to declining revenue..
During 2002-2003 the Club held a highly successful bulb sale in the fall. A Members’ Plant Sale was held in May and a cookbook of members’ favorite recipes was produced. A number of members supported Reston Association’s application for an “America in Bloom” award by serving on the planning committee and showing their gardens to the judges. Reston won first place nationally in its size category.
In 2003 the Club held a modified Greens Sale. Wreaths were purchased and then decorated by members. Several members assisted RA in cleaning up and replanting the Wildflower Trail at the Nature Center. Club members also participated in several planting days at Dogwood Elementary School.
During 2004-05, in celebration of the Club’s 35th year in Reston, a website was designed by one of our members. A commemorative brick was purchased and is located at Lake Anne in the Plaza walkway near the statue of Reston’s founder Robert E. Simon. $1,000 was donated to the Nature House building fund. Funds were also donated to help VDOT seed wildflowers in Reston’s main median strips. At the annual luncheon in June one of the Club’s founders, Diane Jowett Shoup, spoke to us on the Club’s origins.
Reston Association entered Reston in the population category of the “International Community in Bloom” competition. A Club member served on the planning committee and her garden was judged as part of the contest. Reston was the winner in their category.
In June 2006 the Club co-sponsored with Reston Association a tour of Reston area gardens. Members served on the planning committee, docents for the tour, and four members agreed to have their gardens included. The tour of twelve gardens raised $3,500.00 towards building Nature House.
In May of 2007 the Civic Beautification committee contracted to have most of the old, overgrown plantings removed from the Sculpture Garden at the Reston Regional Library and new topsoil and mulch added. The committee then purchased and installed new plants consisting of Chinese Hollies, Birds Nest Spruce and Creeping Thyme.
2008 was a banner year when the Reston Garden Club, along with six other individuals and organizations, was honored with a “Best of Reston” award presented by Reston Interfaith and the Reston Chamber of Commerce. Articles highlighting the Club’s 38 years of community service appeared in local newspapers, and 30 members and guests attended a gala at the Hyatt Hotel in Reston, at which time the award was presented.
2009 found the Club preparing greenery-filled Christmas mugs for residents of Cameron Glen Care Center. Speakers included Peter Murray of Hidden Lane Landscaping & Design. Club member Manette Lazear presented a slide show and lecture on the care and selection of hydrangeas.
In 2010 the Club began meeting at the Walker Nature Center, a pleasant and convenient venue. Our talented members volunteer to create arrangements on a continuing basis to brighten the welcome desk at the Center.
The 2010-2011 Club year speakers included favorite Kevin Munroe, Huntley Park Manager who showed us how to create an Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in our yards and Dr. Steve Carroll of the VA State Arboretum who talked about using plant evidence in crime scene investigations. Trips included a visit to Brookside Gardens and Hillwood in Washington, D.C.
The 2011–2012 Club year had an ambitious travel schedule with several excellent trips. In September we made a trip to the Blandy Experimental Farm at the Virginia Arboretum. This trip included lunch and a visit to Long Branch Historic House and Farm. In October the Club followed with a bus trip to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. At the holiday season there was a trip to Mount Vernon to view their twelve Christmas trees, watch chocolate making and enjoy seasonal music. The trip included lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn. As weather warmed in May the Club made a carpool trip to Lewis Ginter Gardens near Richmond, VA.
The Club continued its community outreach activities with our Christmas mug workshop enjoyed by all and donated to a senior living facility. At Mother’s Day a group helped children make small bouquets to give to their mothers. We continue to help maintain the wildflower trail, to make significant contributions in time and effort to the Reston Regional Library’s landscape and with the Adopt-a-Highway clean-ups. Club member Susan Titus gave us a presentation about creating her garden at her farm and we had an excellent presentation by Lynn Cohen on how to create beautiful container gardens.
During the 2012-2013 excellent speakers provided us with programs on native bees, pruning, attracting wildlife to gardens, and creating color in our gardens. A garden slide show in January made us eager for spring’s arrival. February’s Oscar program again highlighted the creative floral design talents of Garden Club members.
We continued to be active in community outreach. In early December several members decorated Nature House for the holidays. At the December meeting we created more than 50 arrangements of fresh greens in Christmas mugs for Cameron Glen Care residents. In April members volunteered for the Reston Association’s Native Plant Sale where 885 plants were distributed. We also provided a Reston Association Nature Camp scholarship.
Special events included a trek to Merrifield Garden Center in Gainesville for lunch and shopping. In December a lovely holiday tea was shared at Oatlands. In June Chuck and Beverly Veatch hosted Club members at their beautiful historic house and grounds in the Shenandoah area followed by a lunch featuring herbs and flowers.
Other highlights of the year included a newcomers’ tea and the “traveling vase” used by a different member each month to create a floral arrangement. Members were welcomed in June to the beautiful garden of outgoing President Anne Cannizzaro. The end of ur successful Reston Garden Club year was celebrated with the traditional luncheon at Hidden Creek Country Club.
During the 2013–2014 club year we had many excellent and entertaining programs including a novel challenge to put ones best foot forward by creating charming arrangements in various footwear items and telling the stories associated with them. There was a program on the plight of Monarchs and other butterflies and a program called “The Leaf Alone” which focused on foliage rather than flowers. This winter was the year of the Polar Vortex and a number of the general and board meetings had to be postponed or canceled. The December Mug Workshop was held along with the annual January Veggie Luncheon in spite of record breaking cold temperatures. February again brought the annual Oscar program. We had a program on “The Well Behaved Garden” and the May plant sale went nicely. The annual June luncheon at Hidden Creek Country Club was again a lovely end to the Garden Club year.
The Club continued to be active in community outreach including decorating Nature House for the holidays. 45 lovely decorated Holiday mugs were delivered to Cameron Glen Care residents. Our volunteers worked with a dozen children at the Southgate Community Center to teach them some basic garden skills while planting spring bulbs in front of the Center’s sign. Many members volunteered for the Reston Association’s Native Plant Sale where 1,400 plants were distributed. We also had volunteers assisting children in planting seeds in peat cups of soil at the Herndon Easter Egg Fest. Our activities for the year culminated with providing a Reston Association Nature Camp scholarship.
In 2013–2014 the Club enjoyed a variety of local garden tours including an autumn tour of club member Judy Thorne’s historic 1840’s home in Bolivar, West Virginia, along with lunch at the nearby Bavarian Inn. December brought us to Leesburg for afternoon holiday tea at the Aylesbury Tea Room.
In spring members went to Riverbend Park to view acres of Virginia Bluebells and other spring wildflowers. In May the Garden Club invited Robert Simon (founder of Reston) to visit two members gardens as a celebration of his 100th birthday. He and his wife Cheryl enjoyed a morning visit of the lovely shade garden of Julie Bond. In the afternoon they strolled around the sunny/shady lake side garden of Pat Lenz. Members also traveled by coach bus to the beautiful and creatively designed Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA. June brought us to the charming backyard secret gardens of Club member Florence Carson in Reston.
During the 2014–2015 Club year we enjoyed wonderful speakers and entertaining informative programs on garden water features, seasonal plants, garden critters, and timeless fragrances in the garden and Virginia wildflowers. October’s meeting was held at Meadowlark Gardens. For the first time January’s Veggie Luncheon had to be canceled because of snow but by February we were able to go to the Oscars in style and be challenged by the floral creativity of our clever members.
Throughout the year we were active in Community Outreach starting with an autumn program for children at Southgate Community Center. The holiday mug workshop in December was a wonderful success which produced a record 72 arrangements, providing holiday cheer for various appreciative groups throughout Reston. In March a large group of us again helped with the Nature House Native Plant Sale and we also ran a seed potting stall at the Herndon Egg Hunt Festival. We provided $1000 to the Friends of Reston to be used for summer day camp scholarships.
Special Events was inaugurated in September with a trip on the newly opened Silver Line to visit three of the beautiful Smithsonian gardens: the Victorian Enid Haupt Garden, the Mary Ripley Garden and the Butterfly Habitat garden of the Natural History Museum. Lunch was shared at the Sculpture Garden Pavilion of the National Gallery. In December we warmed a dreary, rainy day with a festive holiday tea in Leesburg. A long awaited spring g trip to the National Arboretum had to be postponed because of nesting eagles (!) but we were later compensated when a half dozen of our members offered “Open Garden” days for us to see their gardens and talk about the joys and the challenges of gardening in Reston.
We continued with our Adopt-a-Highway and Sculpture Garden activities and replaced a memorial tree that had been damaged. For Nature House we continued to provide floral arrangements every week for the welcome desk and seasonal decorations for both inside and out. A number of our members volunteer as Nature House receptionists.
As a special treat this year Pat Lenz conducted two popular floral design workshops. One, for centerpieces, was held just before Thanksgiving. The second workshop was in spring. Both were well attended.
Our members’ plant sale in May was proceeded by a Q&A session led by our Horticulture Chairwoman and some of our Master Gardeners. Both the Q&A and the sale were successful and most of us went home with an array of newly shared plants.
The Garden Club year was celebrated with a festive traditional June luncheon at Hidden Creek Country Club.
During the 2015–2016 year we began with a program on miniature gardens and moved on to the gardens of Washington, DC. Continuing our strong community service program we worked with Southgate Community Center on an ongoing after school garden project with elementary school age children. We also had a potting station at the Herndon Spring Festival. Sadly we lost Reston’s founder; Bob Simon. The club made floral arrangements for the “Celebration of Bob’s life.” We also assisted the Reston Association at the Native Plant Sale and Wildflower Trail clean-up. The Club continues to help beautify Reston by working on the Adopt-a-Highway program. December brings our holiday mug and floral arrangements workshop. All mugs and arrangements are donated to brighten the holiday season at various places around Reston.
Fund raising continued with our October bulb sale and spring members’ plant sale. Gardening gloves continue to be a popular way to raise needed funds.
“Field Trips” were also on our agenda this year with a Holiday Tea at Aylesbury tea room, pop-up carpool trip to Bull Run Regional Park to view VA wildflowers. Another carpool trip took us to the National Arboretum.
Club Year 2016–2017 brought a trip to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and the Glen Bernie House in Winchester. Our annual holiday tea was at the National Cathedral. In the Spring we operated a planting stall at Herndon’s annual Easter Egg Hunt and assisted at Reston’s Native Plant sale pick-up. We also had a successful members’ plant sale and helped to maintain the Wildflower Trail while maintaining the library sculpture garden and road clean-up. We still found time to assist the Reston Chorale in their Gardens of Note tour. At our annual spring luncheon we held a very successful silent auction.
During the Club year of 2017–2018 a Thanksgiving flower arranging workshop helped members create the perfect arrangement for the traditional celebration. We also continued our annual tradition of a Holiday Mug Workshop donating many holiday decorated mugs to brighten up the Reston community. We celebrated the season with a Holiday Tea at the Tea Cart in Perryville. A Club member continues to beautify the pots at Nature House. Inside Nature House we continue to provide arrangements near the welcome desk. We also staffed a planting both for children at the Herndon Egg Festival and assisted at the Native Plant sale at Nature House. Southgate Community Center received our attention with the donation of books to the Little Free Library and adorning the 3 blue pots at the base of the Library.
During the September 2018–June 2019 garden year we worked with students at Terraset Elementary School to plant a hydroponic herb garden, repot pollinator attracting plants and fill window/balcony planters. We helped with cleaning up the Wildflower Trail and assisted at the Walker Nature Center Native Plant Sale. At our annual December Mug workshop 56 holiday mugs and 7 basket floral arrangements were created for local firefighters, police, homeless, elderly, library and women’s shelter. At the Herndon Easter Egg Hunt we operated a flower seed booth for families. We also had a booth at the Walker Nature Center Spring Festival. We had a spring flower arranging workshop. A field trip to the Headquarters of the American Horticultural Society included a lovely tour of their extensive gardens. Our June luncheon featured a fun silent auction.
Gardening Year 2019–2020 began with lots of plans as this was to be a celebration of our 50th anniversary. We managed to have programs on Bulbs, Trees, Landscape Design, Native Plants, Preparing the Garden for Winter and a Pot Luck Luncheon. Floral Arrangements for the front desk were continued along with maintenance of the Library Sculpture Garden. We had an English Tea at Greenspring Gardens. The Club partnered with Hunters Woods Elementary School to obtain a grant from Whole Foods to redesign and update its gardens in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary. Our annual Holiday Mug Workshop created over 50 arrangements. At our monthly meetings we had creative floral arrangements on specific themes. Our Jan–Apr newsletters featured special articles celebrating our 50 year history. Unfortunately we had to cancel our April and May meetings due to the pandemic crisis. The Board continues with virtual meetings and we hope to have a postponed annual June luncheon sometime in the fall of 2020. We are all grateful for the escape of our gardens during this difficult time.