Cindy Price remembers how her mother and her friends always looked forward to garden club meetings. “When it was garden club day, there would be a little spring in their step,” Price said.
She was intrigued. So, in 1990, she joined the Ivy Garden Club of Atlanta herself. A few years ago, her daughter, Sarah, also joined. “We are three generations of gardeners who have been enjoying Ivy,” Price said proudly.
And they aren’t the only north Atlanta family with more than one generation in the club, which celebrates its 75 birthday this year.
Membership in “Ivy” – that seems to be the way long-term members talk of the club, as if it were an old friend everyone knows by its first name – sounds at times like a legacy to be handed down from mother to daughter. And three generations along, the club still has a waiting list of women who’d like to join.
Ivy now counts about 125 members altogether, most of them from Buckhead, Sandy Springs or Vinings, said club president Helen Stewart, who’s part of a mother-daughter membership pair herself. That total includes 50 “active” members. The number of active members stays constant — no new active members are allowed in until one of the existing members resigns or otherwise changes status.
Ivy grew up as part of a garden club movement that flowered across the country in the 1910s and 1920s, said Staci Catron, director of the Cherokee Garden Library at the Atlanta History Center, which keeps Ivy scrapbooks along with records from about 100 Atlanta clubs.
Since Ivy was established in 1939, it has been involved in several high-profile Atlanta gardening projects, Catron said. Ivy members helped landscape the Wren’s Nest in west Atlanta, gardens in the East Lake area of the city and the herb garden at the history center’s Smith Family Farm.
“They’re a big deal,” Catron said. “Ivy’s a good club. I like them a lot. They’re good ladies. They work hard.”
What keeps the club going? “It’s a lovely bunch of women,” Phyllis Menser said.
“It’s a wonderful group of women who do so much more than work in the garden or arrange flowers,” said Llewellyn Bell. “This group is not only talented. They are kind hearted.”
They also enjoy one another’s company. During the club’s Nov. 18 meeting, about 80 women packed into a Buckhead home to socialize, have lunch and hear a presentation about flower arranging.
“I really do love this group of women,” Stewart said. “I think what’s nice about it and unique to it is there are women of all ages. Many of us are in different life stages and that makes for a supportive group. The whole thing is just great. It’s a great garden club.”