Garden Club in full bloom after 90 years

June 9, 2017

Pictured are some of the past club presidents. Back row, from left, Edie Hunnewell, Suzanne Hamill, Jeannie Delaney, and Nancy Whitman. Front row, Marie Ford, Helen Clements, Calantha Sears, and Angela Bonin.


NAHANT — As the Nahant Garden Club celebrates 90 years, long-time member and past president Calantha Sears is reflecting on its evolution.

Sears has been involved with the club for almost as long as it has been in existence.

“My mother was a member when the Garden Club started in 1927,” Sears said. “When I was about 9 or 10 years old, in the 1930s, I remember participating in an annual flower show, which was held every summer at the Town Hall. There would be flowers shown by town members, such as dahlias, and judges who selected the best of the bunch, and horticulture-related classes.

“Even the children participated in the display of flowers, in a very simplistic way, and we too would be judged,” Sears said.

When she got older, Sears served as a waitress at an afternoon tea that was also held during the show.

“That was a real honor,” she said.

In the 1950s, Sears had children of her own, and they participated with her just as she had with her mother.

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“When flower arranging was incorporated into the event, I did that,” Sears said. “It is a joy to watch as a vase and some flowers evolve into an integrated arrangement of beauty. While this annual flower show, which really was quite a social event in the town, ceased to exist, it is noteworthy that today’s Garden Club has a strong emphasis on flower arranging. It is as if we are going back to our roots.”

The Garden Club held a scaled-down version of its traditional flower show Thursday at The Cary Street Club in Nahant. About a dozen flower arrangement entries in four categories were received and critiqued by a panel of judges. Eight of the club’s past presidents were in attendance.

The club has about 100 members, including several male members, which president Margaret Blank said is not very common. Blank said membership has grown dramatically over the past few years.

Volunteers maintain the planters along Nahant Road, which they installed several years ago, the traffic islands in front of the Nahant Life Saving Station and near 40 Steps Beach. They also take care of the replanted garden in front of Spindrift, Nahant’s senior housing.

Members meet for fundraisers, recruit new members by inviting them for a beverage and pizza, and award a $2,000 scholarship to a high school senior annually.

This year’s recipient is Swampscott High School senior Karol Wabno, who will study environmental science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall.

About 30 members of the junior gardening program at the Johnson Elementary School maintain daffodil and perennial gardens behind the school. They are also working on a butterfly garden, Blank said.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte