The Hillsborough Garden Club BY MRS. GLENN AUMAN (From Gardens of Old Hillsborough, 1971)
From a yellowed paper, found in the Club scrapbook in the Orange County Historical Museum, comes the following:
In 1925, the ladies of Hillsborough realized that there was need for improvement and beautification of the streets and gardens of the town, so a meeting was decided upon co be held in the old school building, and this meeting resulted in the formation of the Garden Club of Hillsborough. Of the dozen ladies who met, Mrs, Charles Robertson was an enthusiastic leader, and was chosen the first president of the new organization.
Among the first projects undertaken was the planting of Crepe Myrtles along the streets throughout Hillsborough. The agreement of the Town Council was secured also, to have the streets and roadsides better cleaned and cared for, resulting in a noticeable improvement. One of the chief accomplishments of the first president wa in persuading the town to lake over the care of the old cemetery on Churton Street. Mrs. Robertson served as president for a number of years, and was a tireless leader.
Mr. T. Norfleet Webb, a horticulturist of note, who was in charge of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens from their beginning, was an active member, committee chairman, and officer for many years.
In 1935, the first flower show was held in the high school gymnasium, with Mrs. A. H. Graham as judge. Affiliation with the Garden Club of North Carolina came in 1936-7 and, three years later, the ninth year book of the State Club lists the Hillsborough Garden Club on the honor roll for participation in the Second Annual Garden Fortnight. ?\lrs. George Gilmore was president at this time, and it was during her term also that a booklet, "Hillsboro 1754-1939" was prepared by the Historical Committee. l\lrs. J. S. Spurgeon was chairman of this project. The booklet gives an account of Hillsborough's buildings, churches, schools, and famous men.
The Club was very active, until World War JI intervened in 1942. Mrs. H. W. Moore reorganized it on November 7, 1946, and the following years saw a notable increase in Club interests and activities. Flower shows were held frequently. Honorable Mention for the "Purple Ribbon" was received in 1947. In 1949, a purple ribbon was given the Club for a Show and Spring Pilgrimage, entitled "Colonial Hillsboro." This was the first undertaking of its kind in the history of the State Garden Club. The American Legion Building served as headquarters and housed the Flower Show. A few years later, an award was received in the State Model Mile Contest, and the Club sponsored the sale of bone china memorial plates showing the William Hooper House. The Garden Club cooperated with the Town's Bicentennial Celebration in 1954, by holding a House and Garden Tour.
In 1958, Mrs. Clarence Jones organized the Orange County Historical Museum, with the Hillsborough Garden Club as sponsoring organization. The outstanding success of this project has been due to the untiring work of many of the members.
Over the years, the Hillsborough Garden Club has been listed almost continually on the State honor roll, and the Club year book has often received recognition. The aims of the Club have always been for civic improvement. From its earliest inception, projects have stressed Restoration and Preservation of our Heritage.
The Club has shown an interest also in good citizenship, by giving recognition to students. There is a Citizenship Cup, given by the Club, in the Awards Case at the Orange High School, which is covered with names-a senior selected each year. Recently a plaque was placed there, to continue this custom.
State projects have also been supported. These include the Elizabethan Garden, The Daniel Boone Native Garden, the Martha Franck Fragrance Garden for the Blind, World Gardening, and the Scholarship program.
A series of Arts, Crafts and Flower Shows have been held, following the first show in 1963, which attracted much interest. The Hillsborough Crafts Group, now maintaining a Crafts Center in the Old Burwell School is an outgrowth of these Shows.
The Spring Pilgrimages, held biennially by the Hillsborough Historical Society, have depended largely for their success on the support and talents of the members of the Hillsborough Garden Club.