Club History

Club History

The History of The Garden Club of Cape May

Going back to 1928, the City of Cape May promoted gardening among its residents to create “a greater interest in flowers and thereby beautify the city.” Annual flower shows on Convention Pier attracted thousands of people. In 1935, over 30,000 people attended the three-day event.

Building on that tradition, the Garden Club of Cape May (“GCCM”) was founded in 1983 by Ann Miller and K.C. Bennett. Early projects included creating and maintaining the gardens at the Emlen Physick Estate (during its restoration), large planters along the ocean front promenade, flower boxes along the Washington Street Mall, and gardens at the Cape May City Library, the Fisherman’s Memorial, and at Cape May Elementary School. The Club established the “Garden of the Month” program to recognize Cape May residents who plant and maintain outstanding gardens, a tradition that continues.

Today, the Garden Club of Cape May has over 125 members who continue to beautify the city and encourage gardening and environmental stewardship in the community. Beautification projects include the Water Tower, Colonial House, and the Cape May Post Office. Recently, the GCCM worked closely with the city to redesign and install new plantings in front of Convention Hall. Additionally, the GCCM participates in a variety of events and projects that promote a welcoming environment for residents and visitors alike. Recent examples include our collaboration with the Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey for garden design and new plantings, as well as assisting local elementary schools in promoting an interest in horticulture.

Following our mission to promote gardening, conservation, and education, we established a scholarship fund for local students pursuing higher education in Environmental Sciences, Botany, Agriculture, Ecology, Forestry, or a related environmental field. Our first $1,000 scholarship was awarded in 2008, and we have continued to increase our annual scholarship awards to local area students. In 2017, we were officially designated as a tax exempt 501c(3) charitable organization. This enabled us to raise even more money for our scholarship fund. In 2021, a second scholarship fund was established through a special bequest and member donations in memory of a longtime member of the GCCM. The Stina Ferguson Memorial Award is awarded annually to a graduate of the Agriscience and Horticulture program at the Cape May County Technical School. Our goal going forward is to award scholarships to qualified local students.

By creating and launching a website for the GCCM in late 2022, we have continued to elevate the status of the garden club by becoming more accessible to members, visitors, and our community.

The GCCM is proud of its many accomplishments, and our members are dedicated to its historic mission. Through their enthusiastic efforts, the GCCM continues to nourish the seeds that were planted so many years ago.