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Eight garden clubs were invited by Mrs. Thomas S. Wheelwright, President of the James River Garden Club, to attend a conference in Richmond on May 13, 1920. Mrs. Wheelwright outlined the ​purpose of a federation as follows: “The main purpose of the federation is to gain through contact with the leaders of the various garden clubs knowledge of practical value about all plants, and all that pertains to their history, growth, and increase; and the various kinds of gardens, large landscape effects, city gardens and civic planting. This increased knowledge may be gained by visits to the various well-planned gardens of the different types, and through discussion and interchange of information.

“Then we would like to promote an interest in and co-operate with the organizations in the state which have for their object the furtherance of this knowledge, and the beautifying of cities, towns, and highways, as well as the conservation in Virginia of the rich endowment of nature in forests, plants, and birds.”

Then followed a motion that there be a state federation of garden clubs, known as the Garden Clubs of Virginia, of which Mrs. Malvern C. Patterson was elected the first President. The founding eight clubs were the Warrenton Garden Club, the Albemarle Garden Club, the Garden Club of Norfolk, the James River Garden Club, Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club, the Garden Club of Danville, the Dolley Madison Garden Club and the Augusta Garden Club. 

In December of that year Mrs. Patterson called in Richmond the first meeting of the Board of Governors. The minutes of that meeting reveal the broad vision and high aims of the Federation. Mrs. Thomas S. Wheelwright, of the James River club, advocated the creation of a sentiment for good roads, to speed their construction; Mrs. Joseph Walker, of the Dolley Madison club, urged warfare against plant pests, stressing the Japanese beetle; Mrs. Harry Marshall, of the Albemarle club, drew attention to the beauty of our native flowers, shrubs, trees, and evergreens, urging their use in the adornment of our grounds and the prevention of their destruction by vandals. Mrs. Patterson spoke on the billboard nuisance, the obnoxious signs so disfiguring to our landscapes.

Thus from its very inception the Federation has stood for good roads, conservation of native trees and flowers, intelligent warfare against plant pests, and the abolition of the disfiguring billboard. This body of intelligent women has been a potent influence in the life of the state for the conservation of native beauty and the preservation of its historic homes and gardens. 

Follow the Green Arrow Volume I A History of the Garden Club of Virginia 1920 - 1970 (scribd)

Follow the Green Arrow Volume II A History of the Garden Club of Virginia 1970 - 1995

Former Garden Club of Virginia Presidents

2020-2022 Mrs. Richard P. Buckingham IV (Missy), Boxwood

2018-2020, Mrs. Thomas T. Gilpin (Jean), Winchester-Clarke

2016-2018, Mrs. John C. Mustard III (Nina), Williamsburg

2014-2016, Mrs. Nicholas Cadwallender (Jeanette), Rappahannock Valley

2012-2014, Mrs. Russell Smith Evans, Jr. (Ann Gordon), Huntington

2010-2012, Mrs. Arthur H. Nash (Kim), Warrenton

2008-2010, Mrs. John T. West IV (Cabell), Tuckahoe

2006-2008, Mrs. Thomas C. Brown, Jr.  (Sally Guy), Alexandria

2004-2006, Mrs. Rudolph Bumgardner III (Deedy), Augusta

2002-2004, Mrs. Austin T. Darden, Jr. (Mary Hart), Nansemond River

2000-2002, Mrs. Robert C. Wood III (Mina), Lynchburg

1998-2000, Mrs. Robert Carter (Bessie), James River

1996-1998, Mrs. Charles H. Schutte, Jr. (Betty), Winchester-Clarke

1994-1996, Mrs. H. Gordon Leggett, Lynchburg

1992-1994, Mrs. W. Tayloe Murphy, Jr. (Helen), Northern Neck

1990-1992, Mrs. Henley L. Guild (Virginia), Hunting Creek

1988-1990, Mrs. Lilburn T. Talley (Nancy) , Winchester-Clarke

1986-1988, Mrs. James C. Godwin (Ellen), Nansemond River

1984-1986, Mrs. Benjamin W. Mears, Jr. (Katty), Eastern Shore

1982-1984, Mrs. James B. Montgomery (Dot), Martinsville

1980-1982, Miss Jean Printz, Rivanna

1978-1980, Mrs. Thomas W. Murrell, Jr., Tuckahoe

1976-1978, Mrs. Toy D. Savage, Jr., Norfolk

1974-1976, Mrs. John D. Varner (Betsy), Roanoke Valley

1972-1974, Mrs. George M. Cochran (Lee), Augusta

1970-1972, Mrs. George H. Flowers, Jr. (Mary Frances), Boxwood

1968-1970, Mrs. Lucius J. Kellam, Eastern Shore

1966-1968, Mrs. Benjamin F. Parrott, Mill Mountain

1964-1966, Mrs. Wyatt Aiken Williams, Dolley Madison

1962-1964, Mrs. James Bland Martin, Gloucester

1960-1962, Mrs. Burdette S. Wright, Fauquier and Loudoun

1958-1960, Mrs. James Gordon Smith, Albemarle

1956-1958, Mrs. F. Whitney Godwin, Nansemond River

1954-1956, Mrs. Thomas E. Thorne, Williamsburg

1952-1954, Mrs. Arthur B. Collins, Tuckahoe

1950-1952, Mrs. W.W.S. Butler, Roanoke Valley

1948-1950, Mrs. Frank J. Gilliam, Blue Ridge

1946-1948, Mrs. C. James Andrews, Norfolk

1944-1946, Mrs. Louis N. Dibrell, Danville

1942-1944, Mrs. Powell Glass, Lynchburg

1940-1942, Mrs. John G. Hayes, James River

1938-1940, Mrs. Thomas S. Wheelwright, James River

1936-1938, Mrs. Daniel C. Sands, Fauquier and Loudoun

1934-1936, Mrs. W. Allen Perkins, Albemarle

1932-1934, Mrs. Lawrence S. Davis, Roanoke Valley

1930-1932, Mrs. Leslie H. Gray, Dolley Madison

1928-1930, Mrs. Herbert McK. Smith, Augusta

1926-1928, Mrs. William R. Massie, Albemarle

1924-1926, Mrs. Joseph G. Walker, Dolley Madison

1922-1924, Mrs. Thomas S. Wheelwright, James River

1920-1922, Mrs. Malvern C. Patterson, James River