Arlington Heights Garden Club keeps village in full bloom
What do you get when you combine a small amount of creative ideas, 80 pairs of hands, a few strong backs and flexible knees, enthusiasm and a generous spirit of community service?
A successful garden club!
In 1955, the Arlington Heights Garden Club was founded by Irene Lisec to create a place where gardeners and flower arrangers could discuss their gardening problems and give advice to fellow gardeners. Membership was open to men and women, a concept different from the customary organization style of other garden clubs at the time.
Meetings were held monthly, where wreaths and flower arrangements were made to decorate the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, the village hall, park district field houses, Northwest Community Hospital, and the 'Welcome to Arlington Heights' signs at the village limits.
To continue with the beautification of the village, the garden club planted window boxes at the Chicago and North Western Railway station. Members worked with other clubs in planting evergreens, shrubs and annuals at Northwest Community Hospital.
Gilbert Krohn, Arlington Heights Garden Club president from 1964-66, was one of the founding members of the Village of Arlington Heights Beautification Council. Garden club members worked with the council to landscape the north side of the railroad tracks. In 1971, the garden club honored him with the Krohn Memorial Stone at Highland Avenue and Northwest Highway. The Krohn Stone was moved to the grounds of the Arlington Heights Historical Museum in 2018, and is now part of a tour of local history at the museum. In gratitude, the Krohn family donated $5,000 to the Arlington Heights Garden Club. This generous donation was used to fund two beautification projects in the village.
The gardens at the Historical Museum were initially planted and cared for by Thom Kraak and Kathy Hendricksen. The gardens were enhanced with an irrigation system funded by the Arlington Heights Garden Club and installed by the Village of Arlington Heights and the Arlington Heights Park District. Several trees were planted on the grounds in honor of Arbor Day. Recently, the club donated $2,000, 30 folding tables and a park bench to help support the museum. Today, garden club member Kathy Wolan and her volunteers continue to maintain the beautiful Museum Garden.
In 1999, a garden club committee chaired by Thom Kraak and sponsored by the Arlington Heights Special Events committee worked with a Missouri grower to create a red day lily with a yellow-green throat. It was the most popular item sold for the Millennium Committee, with 3,000 red Arlington Heights Millennium day lilies bagged and delivered by the club to village residents.
The Arlington Heights Garden Club has been honored to receive many awards. Recent honors include the 2002 award of Environmental Excellence for Arlington Heights, the 2003 Beautification Heart of Gold Award, the Arlington Heights Park District's 2004 Community Service Award and the 2018 Beautification Heart of Gold Award to club member Kathy Wolan.
With the goal of serving the community, the Arlington Heights Garden Club assists the Arlington Heights Memorial Library by donating gardening books, sponsoring garden workshops and decorating a holiday tree each December. Josephine Perez coordinates the Holiday Tree Project each year, also decorating holiday trees at the village hall and the Arlington Heights Senior Center for the community to enjoy.
On Arbor Day, the garden club donates and plants a tree at a school in the village. Last year, the tree was donated to Dryden School. Earth Day programs at Olive School involve more than 200 students and family members. Working with High School District 214, a demonstration garden plot for students was planted and maintained at The Academy at Forest View.
Marching in the Memorial Day Parade, club members passed out 2,600 flower seed packets donated by JULIE, Inc.
Arlington Heights Garden Club plantings can be seen at American Legion Post 208 and the Arlington Heights Post Office. With the arrival of spring, members plant colorful annuals in containers at the Arlington Heights Senior Center.
Major fundraisers for the year involve a plant sale featuring plants from members' gardens and a Garden Walk & Unique Boutique. The Garden Walk, with Kathy Hendricksen in charge, had more than 400 visitors last year. The Plant Sale, coordinated by Pete Landwehr and Jim Spannagel, will be held the first Saturday of the Arlington Heights Farmers Market, June 6.
In 2020, the club will sponsor the 19th annual Garden Walk Sunday, June 28. The Garden Walk proceeds are used to sponsor scholarships and other nonprofit and community projects.
The Arlington Heights Garden Club awards three, $2,000 scholarships to qualifying students every year. Mike Dennehey coordinates the scholarships. To date, $38,000 in scholarship money has been given out. This year the scholarship applications are due May 1.
The Arlington Heights Park District received a $3,500 donation and "labor" from the Arlington Heights Garden Club to create a butterfly garden at Lake Arlington. In addition, the Village of Arlington Heights received a $3,500 donation to beautify the southeast entrance of town with a native garden.
Enjoy knowledgeable speakers, free gardening advice and good friendship. Meetings are the fourth Monday of each month, September through May, at the village hall, 33 S. Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights. During the summer, meetings are in various members' gardens. As the club moves into its 65th year, you are welcome to attend.
For information, visit ahgardenclub.com.