1923 – 1980
“The object of the Society shall be the study and advancement of gardening, development of home grounds, and civic beautification. Any person interested in gardening and in civic improvement would be eligible for membership irrespective of his or her residence.”
In 1923, Mr. Jay V. Hare, Secretary of the Reading Railroad, persuaded a number of his friends and associates to cooperate with him in putting on a flower show in the village of Trevose where he had his home.At that time this area of Lower Bucks County was real countryside with wide vistas of rolling green acres.In these surroundings, Jay Hare found his avocation in the pursuit of horticulture, as did his neighbors;Mr. Garrett V. Clark, an executive with the Buchanan Printing Company of Philadelphia, and Mr. Charles S. Randall, an outstanding grower of dahlias and other flowers.For the next eighteen years these three men were to lead the fledgling Trevose Horticultural Society in Pennsylvania.
In the beginning the society had as its home only the plot of land donated by Mr. Hare from his property. A large tent with wooden benches was set up to accommodate those who attended the first meetings. In the meantime, construction was begun on a permanent building to be called the Community House. A marble cornerstone brought from the Forest Hills Cemetery by charter member and trustee, Elmer (Buck) Warner, bears the date December 1922. Happily, the structure was partially ready enough to allow the staging of the first Flower Show in September, 1923. Invitations to exhibit and/or attend were mailed to a large number of persons, who responded with gratifying eagerness. Seed companies were solicited for premiums and offered “unlimited” space in which to stage their “famous exhibits.” Posters advertising the Show carried the Reading Railroad train schedule to help visitors avail themselves of this means of reaching the Trevose location.
The resounding success of this first Show was followed by four more equally gratifying September Shows. Photographs preserve the sight of masses of blooms such as are seldom seen in shows of the present time.
It was in December, 1924, that the Community House was finished so that the Society could move in for good. The September, 1925, Flower Show, first to be held in the new edifice, made the claim of being “the most artistic Show in the east” and exhorted one and all that, “You will miss a most gorgeous treat if you fail to see or participate in this exhibit.”
In order to help the Society get off the ground financially during those early years, numerous fundraising events took place. The first of these was a series of dances held in the living room of the Warner family, across the road from the Community House location. Those attending paid $.25 a person and danced to music from the morning glory shaped horn of the then new and amazing Victrola. Many jolly evenings were enjoyed while the treasury benefited. Bonds were sold for $25. In season, strawberry and peach festivals, along with many impromptu parties in private homes attracted large gatherings. With completion of the Community House, weekly dances were scheduled there. Thirty or more marriages are known to have been abetted by these affairs and, to quote Buck, “None of the couples held a grudge against the place that had figured so importantly in their courtship.” In fact, when babies begin arriving, they were brought along and bedded down in some convenient corner while their young parents danced the hours away. The babies apparently did not object too vociferously to such terpsichorean lullabies. For a while there were bowling alleys downstairs; eventually, these were taking out the entire building was used exclusively for meetings and general community programs. One stipulation stated that no food or drink could be served in the main meeting hall upstairs, and no alcoholic beverages ever, anywhere on the premises. A small kitchen area in the basement provided facilities for preparing refreshments on certain occasions. A popular feature of the annual flower shows was the snack bar, which sometimes went beyond the usual hotdogs and potato chips, and included mouthwatering casseroles and stews, as well as fancy sandwiches and homemade cakes and cookies. In good weather, this could be enjoyed al fresco at little tables set on the lower level patio. This afforded a favorite place for relaxing and socializing.
An innovation came about 1928 when the Trevose Horticultural Society joined the Trenton Dahlia Society, the Garden Club, and the Gladiolus Society in presenting a mammoth show in the Second Regiment Armory in Trenton. Jay V. Hare was named “Chairman of Exhibits” to be staged in fifty thousand square feet of space. Members were urged to make as many entries as possible and to furnish premiums in the form of seats, plants, bulbs, tubers, or garden implements. Money prizes were excluded and any donated cash was to be used to purchase prices of a suitable horticultural nature. This 1928 show was successful to the extent that an editor of THE AMERICAN HOME called it “the finest Fall Show he had ever seen.”
Following this impressive event, the Trevose group came to a fork in the road where they had to decide which was to take: continued collaboration with their New Jersey friends, or a return to sponsoring their own Show independently in the Community House as they had done in the five preceding years. At a well publicized meeting held on September 25, 1928, it was decided that the Trevose Horticultural Society, which had been operating on an informal basis, be organized with a regular subscribing membership paying one dollar in annual dues and meeting in the Community House on the third Tuesday evening of each month, beginning November 20, 1928. A constitution was drawn up stating that “the object of the Society shall be the study and advancement of gardening, development of home grounds, and civic beautification. “Any person interested in gardening and in civic improvement would be eligible for membership irrespective of his or her residence. All those joining by November 20, 1928, shall be considered Charter Members.” Membership cards would entitle holders to admission to all regular meetings and exhibits and assure them of full opportunity to participate in this events. At the close of the specified November meeting there were 326 charter members representing thirty-three communities. The first elected officers included: President – Mr. Garrett V. Clark; Secretary – Mr. Jay V. Hare; Treasurer – Mr. Charles S. Randall; Vice Presidents – Dr. J. Harold Cornell, Mrs. C.S. funk, Mr. George G. Johnson, Mrs. Henry C. Parry and Mr. R. Monroe Stout. Apparently, many members had expressed interest in serving on committees, for a subsequent newsletter carried an apology to those not chosen for the initial list with a promise that they should have their turn at a later time.
Appropriately, the program for this November meeting was a slide presentation entitled “Roadside Planting,” which had been obtained through the courtesy of the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg. True to Pennsylvania heritage, Jay Hare loved trees and specialized in growing them from seedlings, which he offered freely to anyone who would set them out and care for them. At a future meeting members were urged to plant a suitable tree or shrub on the property “in close proximity to the highway.” Further notices kept emphasizing “Do not waver in your determination to plant a tree or establish some roadside planting.”
Throughout the years the Trevose Horticultural Society has continued this interest in beautification through the establishment of trees. Several trees have been donated to different schools during Arbor Day observances. Quite a number have been planted as memorials to members, including some in the special memorial grove at Bowman’s Hill Wild Flower Preserve, Washington Crossing. Programs concerning trees have always struck a spark in the audience. In the spring of 1925, John W. Kellar, forester from the Pennsylvania State Highway Department, lectured on “How to Beautify Countryside Roads.” Inspired by Mr. Kellar’s words, the Society embarked upon a most ambitious and public-spirited undertaking. In cooperation with the Bucks County Dogwood Commission, scores of donated dogwood trees were planted along the famous Dogwood Trail that memorializes the route followed by George Washington’s Army from Washington Crossing to Valley Forge. Every spring time these typically Pennsylvanian trees offer their dazzling white blossoms for thousands to enjoy and stand as an affidavit to the generosity and strenuous efforts of those who in earlier years established them as legacy to generations to come. Today the flowering of dogwood in Pennsylvania has become as much a symbol of the return of spring in our Middle Atlantic States as the cherry blossoms in our National Capital, Washington D. C. Not only dogwoods, however, but also oaks, maples, and a variety of evergreens began to appear in what had formerly been bare spots along the Bucks County roads. Later, in 1950, a project called “Trevose Trees” was introduced, with the result that one hundred members received hand-engraved certificates testifying that each had planted five of more trees. Miss Clara Crankshaw, a THS member and a teacher at the newly opened Lincoln High School in northeast Philadelphia, supervised pupils in the planting of 2,000 tulip bulbs on the school grounds. The children became fiercely protective of their bulbs and felt an individual pride when they bloomed. Trevose Horticultural Society members found themselves planting more and more daffodils, tulips, peonies, roses, lilies, dahlias, and all sorts of annuals in perennials in their yards; forsythia, azaleas, rhododendrons, and clematis began to be seen more and more until truly, the Society’s original slogan “Every house is a home with flowers” was being fulfilled. It is reported that visitors inquiring the way to the Community House were sometimes told, “Just follow the flowers.” With so much planting, problems naturally followed, but there were always plenty of experts at every meeting to advise about bugs, blights, and fertilizers.
When the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania was founded in 1930, Trevose Horticultural Society became one of the charter members, with its president Garrett Clark, serving as the first treasurer of this newly-formed organization. He held this position for eight successive years. Another member of Trevose Horticultural Society, Mrs. Alan H. Reed, was the first Chairman of Activities for the Federation; Mrs. Reed later became a Federation president, as did also members, Mrs. Jay V. Hare and Mrs. Henry C. Parry. In June, 1931, a joint Peony and Spring Flower Show sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in cooperation with the Trevose Horticultural Society and other member organizations of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, was held in the Community House in Trevose. Among the special awards offered at this Show were: The Gold Medal of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for “A Display of Peonies, and varieties, not to exceed 100 square feet”; The Robert C. Wright Rose Medal and Mrs. Horatio Gates Lloyd’s Iris Cup. There were eighty classes in the Show. Top prize in the arrangement section, a Silver Medal for a bowl of perennials to be used as a dinner table decoration, was awarded to Trevose member Stanley Johnson, who since then has been content to rest on his laurels and has never again entered the design section of a show. He has been too busy collection innumerable awards for dahlias and dahlia seedlings, as well as roses and gladioli. For many years Stanley Johnson was president of the American Dahlia Society and has achieved international fame among dahlia growers in particular. Locally, he continues to be a leader in the Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society and gladly shares his expertise through lectures and advice.
It seems that this 1931 Peony Show was the one and only of its kind. The deepening economic depression was becoming a factor to be reckoned with by everyone. Throughout the difficult 1930’s, Trevose Horticultural Society held its own as members continued to support it with tenacity. Notices of unpaid dues were gently worded: the Treasurer advises that a few of our members have overlooked the pleasant duty of remitting to him the amount of the current year’s dues. It will be very helpful if the forgetful ones will attend to this matter promptly. In a newsletter Secretary Hare expressed the philosophy: “Regardless of social and economic trends, we shall always need gardens and gardeners in America and capable leaders to advance the interests of horticulture. The right to express and enjoy beauty through gardens is a privilege accorded equally to all, whether the medium be sunflowers or orchids.”
Excellent fall shows continued to be held despite hard financial times. It was a practice to admit school children free on Saturday mornings. Programs by experts in gardening and arranging drew good crowds to the meetings, and monthly Little Shows in both horticulture and design sparked competition and added enjoyment. Practice workshops helped to advance the quality of arrangements. Tours of gardens were a pleasant way of increasing knowledge. One very ambitious trip was planned through American Express Co. to visit the gardens of Eastern Virginia, ending at Williamsburg. Part of the travel was taken by steamer, which must have added a gala note. Manor homes on the Eastern Shore of Maryland were visited on another trip. The reputation of the Trevose Horticultural Society had spread so that it had become a matter of prestige to belong to this burgeoning, active group. The founders could feel that their hopes had been fulfilled beyond their wildest dreams.
The dark clouds of war
Dark clouds of war, however, began to cast their shadows on the horizon and to presage new problems as the fateful forties closed in. A continuing bright feature, no matter what, was the annual January influx of the seed catalogues, described by Jay Hare as, “Those entrancing pieces of literature embellished with all the colors of the rainbow and with such alluring language that we feel we would be classified as benighted citizens if we failed to provide our garden with anything less than 90% of the plants advertised. Thoughts conjured up by the beautiful illustrations make one forget the trials and tribulations of everyday life.”
In September, 1942, the newsletter stated, “In order to save precious gas, tires, and time, it has been decided to combine the September meeting and usual Fall Show into one informal Victory Flower and Garden Show.” The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society participated by offering prizes for vegetable collections. The general public was invited to attend free of charge. All were encouraged to bring along a picnic supper and sunny spirit. Donated exhibits, plants and extra premiums were to be auctioned off for a fund to help those in the Armed Forces. Behind this party-like spirit lay a kind of sadness as it became more and more obvious that reality had to be faced, that the Society could no longer go on as usual. In the November notice, Mr. Hare wrote, “However madly irrational the world may seem to be, we know that garden advancement must and will go on!” Finally, in January in 1943, the word was that all meetings would have to be canceled until some indefinite time in the future. Members were asked to keep their memberships renewed and to reassure themselves by the thought, “We have had such a magnificent organization over the many years we have been meeting together, it is inconceivable that war or other complications should be in any way end our splendid society.” Letters of encouragement and garden advice came at intervals to the members, who in July, 1943, received the following message: “The maintenance of the freedom of our Country is still making it impossible for us to gather at our usual meetings to discuss our horticultural interests. Our first concern now if the growing of edible plants which are now vitally important, but let us remember that lovely flowers also hold a very definite place in our scheme of life. Some day peace will again prevail and we shall be permitted to gather once more for discussions of our gardening efforts. ‘Till then we should do everything possible to hold together our Trevose Horticultural Society, which has had such excellent accomplishments in the past and will have a great extended horizon for the future.” It is likely that a few tears fell with the realization that there was no alternative to this situation.
So the war years passed, and at long last the agony came to an end. September 18, 1945, was an evening of jubilation as the Trevose members returned for their first regular meeting of “the dear old Society” since December, 1942. Attendance increased rapidly, and by December, 1945, activities were back in full swing. Members were responding heartily to the “pep talk”: “Now, all together! Let’s thrive! Help your organization regain its pre-war strength!” The membership committee headed by Mrs. Earl Allabach launched a strong campaign to re-enlist former members and to bring in new ones. By the end of 1946 the Society numbered 700 strong.
Robert W. Tuckey, a young war veteran of ability and imagination, was elected president as 1948 inaugurated the twentieth year of Trevose Horticultural Society’s official existence. Exciting programs, keen interest in the Little Shows and Fall Shows, and a membership of 1,000 plus, saw the Society enter its 21est year strong and full of vitality.
Members came from eighty different communities—many in New Jersey and as far away as New Brunswick, until the Community House at times seemed near to bursting with all these amateur gardeners. “They sat on window-sills, filled the aisles and hall, and lined up on the porch on an evening when a lecturer like Hal Harrison spoke,” remarked Buck Warner in talking about those evenings. Buck was always on hand to see that everything was in readiness for the meetings; In over one-third of a century as trustee and property chairman, Buck was never known to have missed a single meeting. Now, in 1980, at the age of 80, he still fills a full time job with the only concession being that he get Wednesday afternoons off.
Through most of the 1950’s Trevose Horticultural Society basked in this happy condition. Although each year an estimated 22% gave up membership, others came to fill the gap. Naturally, a strong central core carried the brunt of the real work, but there were always many cheerful helpers on the side. The Society received nationwide publicity through articles about it in the April, 1951 issue of COUNTRY GENTLEMAN and the August, 1951 GOOD HOUSEKEEPING magazine.
The times were a-changin’
Times, though, were a-changin’. Bit by bit, new houses and apartment buildings began to sprout on former farm lands. A modern superhighway claimed a large chunk of the Hare’s property, including over two dozen of their prized dogwood trees. The Community House barely escaped demolition, but it looked out upon a quite different type of scenery. A proliferation of local garden clubs, the involvement of more women working outside the home, and the taking over of many households by that ubiquitous television set had brought about by a serious drop in membership. Tax problems beset the Community House, and maintenance became increasingly difficult. Other groups that had used the Community House stopped coming, so that eventually the Trevose Horticultural Society became practically the sole source of income, which was in no way sufficient to meet expenses.
Reluctantly, in 1965, the Trustees decided to rent the old building for use as a warehouse, and for the first time in its history the Society had to seek another location for its meetings. For the next five years the organization led a kind of gypsy existence, going from a bank, to a fire hall, to a convalescent home, until in 1970 it was arranged to meet in the auditorium of the Strawbridge & Clothier store in the new Neshaminy Mall. This has remained its home up to the present time, 1980; the Society very much appreciates the cordial relations it enjoys with the Strawbridge & Clothier organization.
Through all these vicissitudes of later years, a reduced membership of about one hundred persons has succeeded in carrying on regular meetings and activities, including the Annual Fall Show, produced according to a schedule approved by the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania, and judged by national accredited judges. Comments from judges have indicated that the shows have maintained a standard of high quality.
A special class in the 1979 Show was entitled “SUNBEAMS”; it called for use of yellow or golden flowers, shrubs and vegetables arranged in a horticultural display to honor the 50th Anniversary of the National Council of State Garden Clubs. In 1980, a design class will be scheduled to honor the 50th Anniversary of our Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania.
In shows of recent years, the educational exhibits have nearly always received the National Council Award and the State Award. A weak point in the past ten year’s shows has been very limited junior participation, since children of members have grown up and scarcely any replacements have come along. With members coming from so many different communities, it has not been feasible to sponsor a school group. Under consideration at present is the establishment of connection with high school age students in the horticultural classes in vocational school in the vicinity of Neshaminy Mall.
Among present members of Trevose Horticultural Society are three Accredited Judges and one Landscape Design Critic. Other experienced and qualified members serve at times in making local garden evaluations. Some are invited to speak before other garden groups and are thus able to use their knowledge and experience to instruct and encourage others. Some members also take part in shows given by the Rose Society, the Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society, and the Harvest Show sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. In recent harvest shows, Trevose Horticultural Society has been “Club Sweepstakes in Horticulture winner three times. In addition the individual sweepstakes award in the Harvest Show has also been won three times by Mr. Louis S. Heins, who at various times has served as president, vice-president, and treasurer of the Trevose Horticultural Society.
Periodically, Trevose members help to groom an area of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve at Washington Crossing, and some members have served as hostesses during the busy spring and summer seasons. Others have endeavored to bring a bit of horticultural therapy to residents of the Byberry State Hospital. Christmas gifts and Easter plants are sent annually to a Philadelphia hospital that cares exclusively for patients with incurable diseases. A member also serves on the Horticultural “HOTLINE” of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Most significant, Trevose Horticultural Society maintains a scholarship fund for aid to college students specializing in horticulture. So far, three young women attending the Pennsylvania State University have received a grant from this fund, which was established in the mid-seventies.
The precedent set by Elaine Heins in 1980 encouraged more women members to take on the office of President. Among the earliest to do this was Clare Vogt (1982-1983). She was followed by Mary Sanders (1987-1988; 1994-1995) and Betty Sykes (1998-1999). Serving in-between were Tom Sanders (1983-1984; 1989-1990); Joe Caravan (1985-1986); Erich F. Meitzner (1991-1992); Nick Roman (1992-1993); and Arnold Young (1996-1997). Ushering in the year 2000 as President was Leo Wesolowski.
As the decade of the 80’s progressed into the 90’s there have been many changes, including the home of the THS’s meetings and Annual Flower Show. Until the early 1980’s this was in the auditorium of Strawbridge & Clothier at Neshaminy Mall. During that year the meetings moved to Pomeroy’s Department Store Community Room. When this space became a display and sales area in May of 1987, THS’s home was moved to the Carriage House at Tamanend Park. Beginning in September 1988, President Mary Sanders announced a new location for THS: the auditorium of Wood River Village, in Bensalem, PA. This arrangement has continued to the present day. It is a perfect place for the monthly meetings and offers a wonderful setting for the annual Flower Show each August. Design classes have come from the creative minds of Lenis Van Aken and Marie Cartwright. The show title of 1980 was “The First Fifty Years” in recognition of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania’s Golden Anniversary Celebration. THS was honored as a charter member.
The annual Flower Show is the most anticipated event each year. Besides THS members showcasing their talents in horticulture, the competition is also open to non-members. Accredited judges of the National Council of State Garden Clubs award blue, red, yellow and white ribbons to the winners. Exhibited specimens are placed in particular classes as prescribed by the show schedule. The theme of the show guides the creative execution of the entries.
The first task of each newly elected President is to get the chairperson for the Annual Flower Show. This very important position oversees the creation and set-up of the show with many members assisting to make it a memorable event each year.
A popular and integral part of the Flower Show is the Scholarship Fund raffle table, with the proceeds going toward scholarships awarded to college students who include horticulture or related subjects in their curriculum. Many interesting, beautiful and useful items are donated by THS members to be raffled off. At the end of each Flower Show the winners are chosen by a lucky ticket being drawn. In some years, such as in 1999, this fund gets an extra boost, such as a gift that year of $500 from State Representative Gene Di Girolamo. Since then this has been enriched with a memorial fund from the family of Arnold Young, who passed away in 1999. Arnold was a past President, as well as the co-chair at the 1991 Flower Show. He and his wife Dolores have been active dedicated members for many years and delighted THS with hosting a yearly visit to their beautiful garden. Each year Arnold also entertained the crowd at the Flower Show with his distribution of the scholarship raffle prizes, offering his witty comments in such a way as to make even the non-winners feel good. In his honor an award is presented at each Flower Show to the THS member with the most blue ribbons in the Container Grown Houseplant class.
At THS’s monthly meetings, a tradition of valuable lectures and workshops continues. Speakers have included THS members Anne and Arthur Mullowney, longtime gardeners and traveling history buffs, who make their garden tips and useful advice entertaining. Howard Boyd, a lecturer for the National Audubon Society gave us “Introduction to the New Jersey Pinelands” in 1990. Some other topics included “In Praise of Perennials” by THS member Clifton Russell of Russell Gardens Nurseries. A July ’93 slide show “Medicinal Plants,” by herbalist Jennifer Hanson, demonstrated how herbs played a significant role in world cultures. “Bonsai Indoors and Out” at a 1993 meeting was by Jerold P. Stowell, who spent 40 years in Japan receiving instructions from K. Muratu, a bonsai specialist. The President of the Philadelphia Rose Society, David Sandel and his wife, spoke about “Growing of Roses.” There have been lectures on alternative growing methods, such as hydro-farming, using high intensity growing lights. In June 1997, “Flower Arranging for Show,” with guest speaker Rich Batchco, demonstrated how to successfully create blue ribbon designs. He is an award-winning landscape designer. Also, how flower show judges perform their work was covered at a meeting by Spencer and Sandy Manthorpe, accredited judges of the National Council of State Garden Clubs.
Some THS members are recognized internationally, such as Rush Siekmann, whose specialty is pressed flower pictures. Seven of her works were displayed at the Olympic Ice Skating Rink in Nagano, Japan (Winter Olympics 1996). This was the first such international pressed flower exhibition. She has shared her talents many times with THS members by conducting workshops. She and her sister Ilse have chaired a THS Flower Show in the past as well.
A recent slide program has taken members on an armchair trip through the Southwest, to reveal ancient cultures and ecosystems that support cacti and other plants along with a variety of wildlife. “Desert Dreams” was presented by Jeffrey Hall, an experienced lecturer and teacher.
Special design workshops with a local Croydon Girl Scout Troop (ages 6-9) were conducted in May 2000, by Marie Cartwright, Ida Roman, Sonny Latimer and Betty Sykes.
A number of THS members have shared their gardens with invitations for a group visit.
December is traditionally a meeting of socializing with Christmas refreshments and provides an opportunity to continue the tradition of providing wrapped presents to the patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital in Philadelphia.
Every spring in May, an in-house plant sale is a popular fund raiser, and the “Little Show” at each monthly meeting acts as a dress rehearsal for the big annual event. Creative titles and themes are originated by Lenis Van Aken.
THS issues a monthly newsletter which keeps the members abreast of the club’s activities, and often includes valuable tips on horticulture to encourage members to get the most from their plants and flowers, as well as a “Spotlight” column, a small bio, featuring one or two members.
Many special trips have been scheduled by THS. Among these have been trips to the Burpee Fordhook Farm, as well as a bus trip to Nemours, the A.J. DuPont Estate, to visit the French style gardens. Another trip was a visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in NYC, which features a 52-acre “garden of many gardens”. There also has been an April bus trip to Washington D.C. for viewing the cherry blossoms and a guided tour through the National Arboretum. Special gardens not open to the public are also visited, such as Stover Mills Gardens, with ten acres of day lilies, and Mt. Cuba.
Yearly events that have been a continuing tradition at Trevose Horticultural Society include the transplanting of hundreds of plants for Mother’s Day weekend at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve.
Attending and being part of the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show each spring has become a highlight as well. At this event, THS members have been awarded many ribbons. Several members of our group volunteer their services throughout the year with the PA Horticultural Society.
As the new Millennium approached, a special “Project 2000” was participated in by THS members, as well as others from the District I Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania. Two large plantings of daffodils and daylilies were completed along the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Norristown.
As a club THS has enjoyed many honors and awards. In 1983, the National Council of State Garden Clubs, Inc. honored THS for fifty years of continual membership.
THS is a member of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania. Until recently we were members of District I. Due to the growth and the District’s wide geographical range, THS is now part of the newly formed District XI.
In 1995 GCFP honored THS with an “Award of Special Recognition” for their years of community service, staging an annual Standard Flower Show, presenting well-rounded creative programs in all aspects of gardening. This made THS very proud.
Three of our Flower Shows have won the National Purple Rosette Award for being a superior flower show, the best in the State of Pennsylvania: 1984 “Quilting Frame of Flowers,” 1997 “In the Dreams of a Child,” and 1999 “The Bounty of Bucks County.” Several THS members help by compiling and preparing “The Book of Evidence” used in competing for this award.
The Laurel Awards are presented to deserving members each year at the Annual Luncheon.
THS was just one of three garden clubs in District I that had contributed to the National Endowment Fund for four consecutive years. In 1993 the contribution was sent in memory of Dr. Erich F. Meitzner, who had passed away the previous year. He had been a very active member, along with wife Virginia, since 1939. He last served as President of THS in 1991, after having previously served in this role in 1961-62 and 1978-79. The club remembers Erich and Virginia with great fondness and gratitude for their contributions. Erich shared his considerable horticultural knowledge with THS members, often giving interesting lectures at the monthly meetings and winning many blue ribbons with his specialty: dahlias. Virginia was co-chairman of the 1991 Flower Show with Arnold Young. A special award at each flower show is the “Erich and Virginia Meitzner Award,” which is presented to the member who wins the most ribbons in the dahlia class. Virginia was named a Lifetime Member and enjoys attending the annual Flower Show all the way from central New Jersey.
Other Flower Show Special Awards include the Dorothy Hoffman Novice Award, The Rachel Schwarz Award for pressed flower design, The Joseph Caravan Award for window sill class, and the Arnold Young Award as previously mentioned.
In 1992 a memorial tree was dedicated by THS members to the memory of Elaine Heins, wife of Lou Heins, who has moved to Alaska where he has become the mayor of the town of Tenakee Springs. He is a past president of Trevose (1972-1973), and Elaine was our first woman president. Lou returned to Pennsylvania periodically to visit.
George Funk holds the oldest membership (since 1932) at THS and earned the distinction of receiving our first Lifetime Membership. He first joined as a child with his parents to hear a program on birds and is still watching them. He has also contributed to the Flower Show raffle table with uniquely built bird houses.
In 1995 THS established a Horticultural Library, managed by Joyce Vile. Books, magazines, and videos that contain helpful horticultural information have been donated by members, and are kept in a rolling library book case that was built by the Lower Bucks County Tech School. A baked goods sale table at the Flower Show helps to fund this library.
In 1998 THS was most fortunate to have a trailer donated by Dot and Warren Worthington to house all the flower show supplies.
The baton of presidential leadership was passed to Leo Wesolowski in early 2000, from Betty Sykes. It is to them and other presidents before them that THS gives thanks, as the club is thriving well after 77 years with a membership of about 120. As the year 2001 approached, with annual dues at $20 per person ($25 per Family), the current President is June Rymond, who has taken the helm as THS is preparing for the 75th Annual Flower Show, a Diamond Jubilee celebration entitled “Diamond Medley.”
As the Trevose Horticultural Society has evolved in the last twenty years and entered the new Millennium, there has been a change from a rural fee to a more suburban emphasis. This has been accomplished with continued excellence and sophistication in the promotion of horticultural activities and service to the community.
by Virginia M. Meitzner, Historian / Original Edition January 1980 / Updated August 2001 (Technical assistance by Brigitte Meitzner)
2000 to now
Now that the next century began, our club was energized for the future. The President at that time, Leo Wesoloski, oversaw several slide presentation, some garden visits to member’s homes, ad some members working with a Girl Scout troop in Croydon to help them learn basic arranging and design techniques. The Flower Show this year was titled “Spotlight on Broadway,” and all the details were guided by Betty Sykes.
June Rymond became President in 2001 and served for two years. Betty Sykes was in charge of the “Diamond Medley” Flower Show. This was an exciting year. It was the 75th Anniversary of the Club. A banquet was held in Southampton in November to celebrate. During the year some details of the Club’s history were reminisced at the meetings and long-time members were honored. George Funke was acknowledged as having joined as a child with his parents, and he remained a member until his passing in 2007.
In 2002 “Roadside America” was the theme of the Flower Show with co-Chairmen Susan Strachan and Alice Szarek. The Club held our first silent auction in November. Harvey Soll was in charge and responsible for raising money for the Scholarship Fund. People donated or bought items and bid on them prior to the meeting. Following the evening’s program, the winners were announced the items went home with happy new owners. Our garden society continues our long tradition by bringing holiday-wrapped items for the patients of the Sacred Heart Hospital. Those decorated presents are displayed during the December Little Show and then all are delivered in time for Christmas.
Nick Roman took over leadership in 2003. One of the favorite features of each meeting was the “Question and Answer Time” when Nick or other knowledgeable members answered questions about horticulture. That year’s Flower Show was entitled “Through the Garden Gate” was able chaired by Susan Strachan and Alice Szarek again.
In 2004 Phyllis Ford signed on as President. Harvey Soll began to add an entire page of color photos to the September newsletter issue to highlight the Flower Show’s winning entries. He has published the newsletter for several years and continues to steadily improve the publication. Alice Szarek was chairman of the Flower Show “Heaven and Earth,” which featured some celestial designs. For the Scholarship Committee there was some more work added: the Country Gardeners Garden Club asked us to select two winners for their scholarships, as well as our own, which we increased to $1,000 each. The meetings featured such programs as travels around the USA and beyond, varied horticulture and educational topics, and offering hints and demonstrations in design, focusing on entering the Flower Show. Phyllis served as President for 3 more years.
In 2005 we participated in the National Penny Pines program of reforestation. It was part of the National Council. Alice Szarek again led the Flower Show, this time with the theme “Ship Ahoy.” Harvey Soll requested and printed some recipes in the newsletter, and there was a bus trip to The Cloisters gardens in New York City.
There was another Silent Auction in 2006. Another color page was added to the September newsletter, and plans began for the club to have a website. Harvey, Jack Lee, Bob Obodzinsky and his son, Bob, Jr. were on the committee. Alice Szarek and Lenis Van Aken chaired the Flower Show “Candyland,” to the delight of all. A longtime member, Virginia Meitzner, passed away after belonging to the club for 58 years.
2007 saw the entire December issue of the newsletter arrive in our homes in color. The website became a reality with the help of Bryan Tomlinson and Garden Central. It is sponsored by Scotts Miracle Grow and showcases club history and current events. Harvey posts the newsletter in color and our schedule is kept up to date. There are links to Pennsylvania and National Garden Club Federation websites, as well as to other local clubs in District XI. Betty Sykes has served as District Secretary for several years and keeps our members up to date about their programs and activities. “Land of Oz,” that year’s Flower Show was guided by Ida Roman and received a state award and later on, a National Award, thanks to the work produced by Marie Cartwright for the Book of Evidence in which she wrote a 300-word dialogue between the Tin Man, the Lion, the Scarecrow and Dorothy to describe the show. The club took on the flowering of the Imagination Garden built in Bensalem for Special Needs children. There were already bushes and trees, but bulbs and summer and fall perennials were bought by THS and planted by a local troop of Boy Scouts, workers at Wal-Mart, and our members. George Funke passed away in September, having been a member for 75 years. Thanks to a grant from Wal-Mart, another scholarship was presented this year for a total of 3 for $1,000 each from THS. Phyllis completed her 4th term as President.
In 2008 Sally Irons and June Rymond became Co-Presidents. As part of another Wal-Mart grant, researched by Ann Sheridan, they led a group to investigate, purchase and plant a variety of bushes and flowers at the Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home in Northeast Philadelphia. Several knitters in THS also made and gave afghans and prayer shawls to the residents. This year’s Flower Show titled “Magic of Mother Nature,” was chaired by Ken Helmich. Twice members of our Society participated in “Going Green” events at the Bensalem Home Depot. A few of us set up a table to explain xeriscaping and using native plants in home landscaping, and we also sold plants as part of Macy’s “Shop for a Cause.” Children were encouraged to plant cuttings of Wandering Jew, or Tradescantia, to take home. Leonard and Rosemary Pell, both valued members, passed away this year.
The highlight of 2009 was our first annual picnic in October, after the Flower Show, of course. This was held at Playwicki Park. Potluck foods were brought by all who attended; the club provided the hot beef and gravy. Everyone played some fun games and agreed the day was a delightful experience that we should repeat. Our Flower Show, “Rhapsody in Green,” was absolutely outstanding! Ken Helmich and Bo Peters co-chaired. The design titles were both musical and from nature, as you would expect from the title. Marian Hunsberger, a longtime member, passed away and will be missed. We continued to provide small potted plants at Easter and gifts at Christmas for the residents of Sacred Heart Home. Again, plants were provided by Creek Edge Nursery. Sally Irons, President, has taught and entertained us at each meeting with an unusual plant and facts about it, sometimes in the form of a quiz. We’ve all come to look forward to this segment. Alice Strack headed the committee to choose our Scholarship winners. This year the committee selected five college students for the $1,000 awards. Two were provided by our club and three by the Country Gardeners. Lack of funding forced our Website to close down.
“How Novel!” was the theme of the 2010 Flower Show. The summer weather was hot and dry, but the show was magnificent! William Landherr, a member and grower of many prize-winning dahlias, died this year, as did Mildred Budd and Sister Anna Troisi, a short-term but much-loved member. On Hobby Night, the presenters included Harvey Soll, gourd birdhouses; June Rymond, decoupage; Dorothea Zajaczuk, Tai Chi. Bo Peters served as President and Program Chair. Home Depot featured “Green Day” and included several members giving information about native plants. June Rymond offered a Hypertufa workshop again and many people created the troughs for their outdoor plantings.
updated July 2013 by Karen Wychock
The 2014 Flower Show was rather phenomenal. It won in the 50-99 members category for the State of Pennsylvania, and then, it won for the best in the United States! We are all so proud of Karen and all the committee chairmen and workers. This year’s Flower Show, Wild Things!, chaired by Karen Wychock, was held in a new location, St. Ephrem Catholic Church at 5400 Hulmeville Road, Bensalem. The parking lot was enormous, the gym was beautiful and spacious enough for all the Designs, the Horticultural specimens, the Food table and the Flower and Plant tables. There was easy access to bring in the tables and equipment, and plenty of room for the visitors to wander freely and enjoy the exhibits. It seemed there were more specimens and definitely more guests. In 2015, we learned that “Wild Things” placed fourth among flower shows staged in a public building.
We entered the PHS Philadelphia flower show in March with an exhibit En Plein Air, a garden (12’ x 16’ x 1’) in the style of Mondrian featuring reds, yellows and blues. We won second place (missing first by one point) and received a silver bowl trophy from the Landscape and Nursery Association. We are very grateful to Ruth Kurts, Karen Wychock, Isabell and Dick Longcoy, and Richard and Lenis Van Aken for their wonderful design, construction and faithful tending of the plants.
Also included in the PHS show were bulbs and other pieces earning awards for these faithful exhibitors: Dee Crawford, Janice McMaster, Bo Peters, Kathy Schreader, Alice Szarek and Karen Wychock. Together, they won 27 awards.
We experimented with a fundraiser at Chipotle, a Mexican restaurant. As a result we netted $52.67 for the Scholarship fund. Thank you, Alice Szarek, for taking care of the details.
Several members visited Mayor Joseph Di Girolamo’s garden in September. He has been a regular contributor to our Schedule and a visitor at our Flower Show. Harvey noticed there was no bird house, so he built one especially for the mayor. The Mayor was so pleased, he gave us a check for $300 for the Scholarship Fund.
At the end of the year there was a big change in the Newsletter editorial staff. Harvey Soll, after 18 years as Corresponding Secretary, decided to retire. We thank him for his masterful handling of all our news and features and updates. He kept the newsletter current with progress in the computer desktop publishing field and supplied all of us with a publication of which we are very proud. In fact, during the year 2015, Harvey was awarded the highest honor for the newsletters. They were judged against some from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Ohio.
After a difficult time of making arrangements, we are now meeting at the Bensalem Senior Center. Betty Sykes and Jack Lee made many phone calls and we appreciate them. This new location features more and easier parking and an opportunity for more exposure and hopefully, many new members. We had no meeting in February, due to cold weather and precipitation, but in March we all started the year very enthusiastically.
Karen Wychock has taken on the responsibility of the newsletter and has made a few changes to the layout. She has also added a new column Garden Chatter, to help us know which monthly activities are needed in the garden.
Again, several members entered the PHS Flower Show. They included Betty Sykes, Ruth Kurtz, Dee Crawford, Alice Szarek, Kathy Schreader, Lenis Van Aken, Karen Wychock, and Tom and Janice McMaster. They earned 32 ribbons. Karen received a score of 100 points for her design, John Wayne in the Walk of Fame, and walked away with the special award, “Best of the Blues!”
After a long time of illness, we were very sad to have to say goodbye to Joy Lee. She wrote the spotlights for the newsletter, helped with the judging of the Flower Show and participated eagerly whenever asked in any activity for our club. We will miss her and wish Jack, her husband, our best.
Our Flower Show, “Under the Big Top” featured a circus theme with huge animal cutouts painted by some of chairperson, Karen’s former students. We had red clown noses for brave members to wear, two new categories in Horticulture - a dish garden and Le Jardin Noir featuring plants with black or near-black qualities and, for an educational exhibit, the chance to learn about Elephant Ear plants. There was even popcorn to eat as guests explored the festivities. With all of this, we spread out some more in the gym and everyone appreciated the greater degree of spaciousness.
June Rymond arranged for us to visit several home gardens, belonging to our members and even some friends. Those who attended had a lovely time in all seven locations.
For our 85 years of being federated with the Garden club Federation of Pennsylvania, we had a wonderful year.
The PHS Flower Show knew we were there again! Eight members won a total of 46 ribbons in Horticulture and two members won ribbons in Design. We were proud of Dee Crawford, Larry Fontanilla, Ruth Kurtz, Janice Mc Master, Tom Mc Master, Kathy Schreader, Alice Szarek, and Karen Wychock.
For “Surfs Up”, this year’s Flower Show, several members worked with students from St. Ephrem to design dried flower arrangements in beach pails. The goal was to increase attendance, but the display also greatly impressed those who saw the creations. The students worked very hard and showed off great talents. Instead of porch boxes, we included planters that featured a minimum of three grass-like plants.
Following a stroke and some time in rehab, June Rymond passed away this year. She held many offices, served as Chairman several times and was an energetic contributor to our Flower Show. We miss her and wish her husband, Gene, our best.
“Surfs Up,” our theme for this year's Flower Show, was a big hit. The gym at St. Ephrem's Catholic Church had reminders of the ocean in every corner. Adults and children entered dried arrangements in colorful beach pails. There were many shells and sunflowers to enlarge upon the theme.
We will sadly miss June Rymond, a member since 1995, who passed away following a stroke. She was a very creative and energetic member who participated in a multitude of responsibilities.
This year, for the 6th annual Bensalem Senior Citizens Association Art Exhibit and Dinner, Choony, Lenis and Betty created centerpieces for the tables. Over 200 attended and received information about our club and its activities.
Our first building, the Community House, was torn down this summer. It had been built in 1923 to replace the tent and benches used earlier and hosted a flower show that August.
Later we learned we had won the GCFP Superior Flower Show First Place Award for a club with 50-99 members. Then, we were told we had won the National Award for “Surfs Up!!!”
We also received First Place awards for the 3-12 page newsletter, for the Standard Flower Show Schedule for a club with 50-99 members, and for the Book of Evidence for Surfs Up!!!
We want to remember Carrie McClure who, for health reasons, has ended her career as tally master for the monthly Little Shows. She has been doing this since1994 and will be missed. Jessie Carbonneau a member since 1985 has passed away. We will miss her.
In preparation for our Flower Show, several members met and made hypertufa planters. After they seasoned, they were planted with succulents and cacti. They were exceedingly popular at the show, “Santa Fe Sunset.” Also featured were small glass jars filled with colorful sand and in the middle, a small succulent. After they were made at the show, they went home with the artist.
On display at the show were dried arrangements created by members of the Bensalem Senior Center, where we meet each month, and students involved in the Bensalem Summer Arts Program. Santa Fe Sunset featured the categories of Dish Gardens and Combo Planters; Georgia O'Keefe's New Mexico home inspired Ghost Ranch Creative Style Still Life exhibits; Four Corners, State and National Parks and Monuments; Red Hot Chile Peppers pedestals; Balloon Fiesta table designs; 8" petite class Dream Catchers; jewelry, Tribal Artistry, squash blossom necklaces; and the novice class of Native American Culture. This was Karen Wychock's 6th Flower Show as Chairperson and it was a wonderful trip out West for over 400 visitors.
updated by Phyllis Ford 2017