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LA Garden Club celebrates 70 years

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Club began in 1947 with goal to create more beautiful environment

By Sarah von Sternberg

 The Los Alamos Garden Club celebrated its 70th anniversary Saturday in the Memorial Rose Garden next to Fuller Lodge. It was a bright, sunny day, but plenty of shade covered the seats to create a pleasant afternoon of festivities. Delicious refreshments were served with the beautiful backdrop of roses from the garden.  

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“Our club was founded on Jan. 19, 1947, two years before I was born,” Club President Joyce Zaugg mentioned as everyone chuckled, “and we have been flourishing ever since.”

The Los Alamos Garden Club has a long-standing reputation in the community that began in 1947 after 11 local residents gathered together with the goal to create a more beautiful natural environment following the end of World War II and the newly privatized town. 

The club took on many service projects; most noteworthy is the Memorial Rose Garden, which happens to be the oldest public garden in Los Alamos and the oldest public rose garden in New Mexico. 

Every Monday from March until October, about 10-12 women get together to weed, prune, mulch and take care of the rose garden. It has served as a preferred backdrop to weddings, special events and senior pictures.

Lucille Lemons, probably the oldest-living member of the club, joined the celebration Saturday with her son and daughter-in-law. While she may not have been an active member in the past few decades, Lemons has been a part of the Garden Club since its inception in 1947. Lemons has lived in Los Alamos for 71 years and, she remembers when the roads in town were still made of mud. 

Club member Linda Hoffman explained that in the early years of Los Alamos, residents were not thinking of gardens, trees and flowers in their temporary living situations. 

The club’s historian, Janet Clayton, has been a member since 1968 and recognized that things do change over the years, but called the Memorial Rose Garden a beautiful facility.

“It’s been a great place for us to come for years,” Clayton said, as she motioned to the garden around her. 

Barbara Vance, president of New Mexico Garden Clubs, Inc. and special guest to the ceremony, said, “The garden club is a wonderful source of information. If you move to a new community, try and find one to join.” 

Another special guest that afternoon was Vice President of the Los Alamos Historic Preservation Board Leslie Linke, who said, “I want to sincerely thank the Garden Club for their hard work and dedicated service in clothing our community in such beauty.” 

Zaugg also introduced past presidents that were in attendance and the years they served in that position, like Doris Jackson, who was president for more terms than anyone else in the club. 

At a table behind Zaugg sat two hand made posters, one displayed some highlights of the club’s history and the other represented the kinds of activities and community service the club has been involved in. 

Zaugg said, “We’ve been doing these types of things since our beginning and we continue to do them to this day.” 

Also on the table were thick scrapbooks from 1979 and 1980, and even more impressively, the very first scrapbook from 1947. The books were filled with photos, newspaper clippings, handcrafted nametags and much more memorabilia that captured the essence of a year in the Garden Club. 

Zaugg invited everyone to meander around the garden to take a peak at the five different types of roses within, and to look over the historic scrapbooks and yearbooks. 

Overall, Zaugg said she was pleased with the turnout and the afternoon was a special celebration of 70 years of the Los Alamos Garden Club.