From beautification, to educational outreach, scholarships and more, there are many ways our members help contribute to Maplewood. All of this is possible thanks to those who support our Annual Plant Sale. Below is a partial list of what we do.

Annual Plant Sale: “A monster sale, one of the state’s oldest” says the Star Ledger. Indeed, our annual fundraiser, which takes place each May on the Thursday through Saturday before Mother’s Day, attracts gardeners from all over New Jersey and beyond. Proceeds from the sale fund all MGC activities, programs and projects. We offer a huge variety of annuals and perennials, trees and shrubs, herbs, vegetables and fruiting plants. Members contribute cuttings and divisions from their own gardens for our Member Grown section. The sale is wildly successful because of the hard work and participation of MGC members. Many hands are needed at sale time, but related activities take place year round. Members are encouraged to get involved. Not only is it rewarding and educational, it’s fun!

Durand-Hedden Herb Garden: Designed and installed by MGC in 1979 to complement and enhance the historic Durand-Hedden House, the garden contains a
collection of herb species used for culinary, medicinal, fragrance and ornamental
purposes. A group of members continues the maintenance and development of the
garden.  New helpers are always welcome.

Hilton Rain Garden: Supported by a $10,000 grant from the New Jersey American
Water Company, and with the able assistance of the Township’s Engineering and Public Works Departments, members of the club designed, constructed and planted a 1,200 square foot rain garden adjacent to the Hilton Branch Library. The garden is able to capture approximately 200,000 gallons of storm water run-off from the library’s roof and parking lot, redirecting it to the Arthur Kill Watershed. It also provides an expanded habitat for local pollinators seeking the native species of plant material which were selected. In 2013 a “Monet-style” bridge was added over the Rain Garden in honor of long-time Garden Club member Odette Jakel.

Maplewood Township Greenhouse: Donated to the Township by MGC in 1974, the greenhouse contains 160 benches, which are rented to Maplewood residents from October through May. A Garden Club crew oversees the greenhouse operations. Our volunteers maintain the watering system, keep soil and compost bins filled, are often on hand for advice when the greenhouse is open and handle any emergencies that may arise. In 2016, MGC funded the recladding of the greenhouse.

The Garden behind the Greenhouse:  The Garden is comprised of some 30 raised beds that are used to grow perennials, cuttings and seedlings to be sold at future MGC plant sales. The activities of the Garden also teach Club members plant propagation methods and general gardening skills. Each spring MGC members descend on the Garden to dig up and pot up plants for the sale – a busy, fun time. After the sale, leftover perennials as well as the newly propagated seedlings and cuttings are planted in the raised beds to grow on for another year. Over the summer and fall, members maintain the raised beds (weeding, pruning, dividing, upgrading). The Garden offers a unique opportunity for MGC members to gain hands-on gardening experience. There are learning opportunities for all, ranging from the novice to the seasoned gardener.

Wreath-Making Workshops:

All members are welcome to join in our annual wreath making workshop. All materials are supplied by MGC. The wreaths are used to decorate the Railroad Station, Durand-Hedden House, and other public buildings. No experience is necessary. After making the wreaths for the town, members may make wreaths for themselves.

Railroad Station Decorating: The wreaths created at the wreath making workshop are used to decorate the railroad station lobby. There is also a workshop to create decorations for the holiday tree which is set up in the lobby. Evergreen swags are created, decorated and hung around the station platforms. This is always a fun event for club members and is much appreciated by the hundreds of commuters who pass through the station daily.

Youth Gardening: School-age children enjoy hands-on activities related to all aspects of gardening.  They meet regularly in the greenhouses.  Children experience the fun and satisfaction of gardening with a skilled youth leader. The MapleFood Garden, located near the Greenhouse, has become an important part of our Youth Gardening
activities.  The young gardeners plant, weed, water and harvest vegetables, which are taken home by families and contributed to local food pantries.

Dickens Village: Since its introduction on our 75 th  anniversary in 2001, the Victorian Conservatory has been a fan favorite among the period buildings erected in Ricalton Square each holiday season. Children and adults love visiting the Conservatory, lush with live and dried plant materials, and colorful objets d’art. It’s a delightful little oasis that brightens up the early days of winter.

Memorial Garden Behind Town Hall: In 2006 this garden was created to
commemorate the contributions of long-time members Vincent Ferraro and Max Idel to the Garden Club and the Greenhouse. A stone wall was built, a hand-crafted trellis
erected, and boxwood, roses and clematis planted.

Community Projects: Wherever you go in Maplewood, you’re sure to see one of our Township beautification efforts.  Currently, we are working to restore the woodland garden along Brook Path, which starts on Woodland Road and leads to Brook Lane and the Delia Bolden Elementary School property.  Each summer we plant the traffic island at the Baker Street/Maplewood Avenue intersection, pot up the planters at the railroad station, and contribute towards gardening efforts at the schools.  MGC has twice been honored to receive a certificate of appreciation and recognition from the Township Committee. We are always looking for new projects to get our hands dirty.

Scholarships: Annual scholarships are awarded to Rutgers University students and to Columbia High School seniors who have shown an interest in studying horticulture, landscape design, environmental studies, or related scientific areas.

Maplewood Library Donations: Each year, MGC donates current books and other garden-related library materials for adults and children to the Maplewood Memorial Library and the Maplewood Hilton Branch Library. 

At our November ’23 meeting, the Garden Club presented a $5,000 check to Ben Cohen, President of the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation, and Sarah Lester, Library Director, for the construction of the new Main Library.  The connection between the Garden Club and the Library began with the building of the Main Library in the 1950s.  MGC contributed to the original construction as well as the 1970s addition plus funded plantings, tables and media equipment over the years.  Beginning in the 1950s, MGC held its monthly meetings, workshops and flower shows at the Library.  

Trips and Tours:  Each year, MGC members visit a number of gardens and garden-related events. Some examples of recent trips include Chanticleer, Greenwood Gardens, and the Snug Harbor Chinese Scholar’s Garden. This year we are planning our biennial pilgrimage to the Philadelphia Flower Show with a projected date of Tuesday, March 5, 2024. In addition, Autumn and Spring trip possibilities include, but are not limited to, The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair, The Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, and the Colonial Park Gardens in Somerset. Upcoming trips will be announced in the newsletter and at our monthly meetings.