Mission & History

A landscape saved

In 1920, members of eight garden clubs formed a federation to strengthen their mutual interests in conserving Virginia’s natural resources and preserving its native beauty. They galvanized a movement that has grown to include 48 member clubs and 3,400 members.

Our Mission

To conserve the gifts of nature, to restore and preserve historic landscapes of the commonwealth, to cultivate the knowledge and love of gardening, and to lead future generations to build on this heritage.

It started with a letter — an invitation, to be precise.

In 1920, women had just won the right to vote. Many women, while educated, were prohibited from pursuing professional careers. But the world was changing. 

The Progressive Era (1890 — 1920) included a facet known as Municipal Housekeeping; its focus was empowering women to make an impact beyond their homes into areas of public well-being. Included in the sphere of civic interest were education, health, and access to clean water, public gardens, and parks. 

We connect through our love of gardens and conserving and sustaining the beauty of Virginia, while building lifelong friendships and having fun.

Debbie Lewis
Garden Club of Virginia President, 2022-2024

And so, in 1920, the president of the James River Garden Club wrote fellow garden clubs from other areas of Virginia and called a meeting to discuss creating a federation of garden clubs. These early leaders were the founders of the Garden Club of Virginia, finding a unified voice and making a significant impact in their communities and throughout the commonwealth. 

The seeds sown by these visionary leaders produced a strong statewide association — a voice for conservation, restoration, and the environment across Virginia. And membership today, of course, is not limited to women.