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National Garden Week – June 2-8, 2024

New Albany Garden Club celebrated National Garden Week by showcasing member gardens on social media and working in the New Albany Middle School garden area with student volunteers.

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The pioneers of National Garden Week, National Garden Clubs, was established in 1891 with branches in 19 states. National Garden Clubs organizes community gardening projects as well as provides educational programs. They also produce a quarterly publication called “The National Gardener.” In addition to all these, they offer college scholarships and grants for youth clubs planting pollinator gardens.

Gardening in America can be traced as far back as the year 1565, when Spaniards settled in St. Augustine, Florida, and brought plants from Spain and novelties from the West Indies. Years later, in 1607, English colonists settled in Virginia and named their colony Jamestown. They brought seeds from England but also cultivated crops grown by Native Americans, such as tobacco, corn, beans, and squash.

Between 1619 and 1865, during the slave trade, the gardens created by African American slaves in the U.S. were significant in the history of gardening. In this period, African Americans found time to cultivate their garden plots despite having to attend to the crops of slave owners. Their gardens provided additional food to the enslaved community and sometimes yielded enough produce to sell for profit.

One major feat in gardening history came when John Bartram of Philadelphia established his botanic garden in 1728. It is known to be the oldest surviving of its kind in North America. Bartram began trading seeds and plants with Peter Collinson, a London merchant, and botanist. He had a huge reputation in international trade and in Botany, which earned him the title of ‘Royal Botanist’ to King George III. He was believed to have introduced 150 North American plant species to Europe and was considered the greatest naturalist in the world.

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