Garden Club of Los Altos celebrates 85 years planting seeds of friendship

ing Garden Club of Los Altos members share memories at last week’s anniversary party. Pictured are, from left, Joan Tankersley (40 years), Jean Gillette (46 years), Helen Sherwood (41 years) and Marguerite Appling (44 years).

Several hundred women in wide-brimmed hats and flower-patterned dresses sat at circular tables for an Oct. 28 buffet-style lunch at Los Altos Lutheran Church, gathering to celebrate the Garden Club of Los Altos’ 85th anniversary.

In a tradition that’s flourished since 1929, the convivial group of mostly female green thumbs congregates monthly to share gardening know-how and flower-arranging advice.

But when the Garden Club of Los Altos was founded, it didn’t have quite this feminine touch – the club was exclusive to men. Shortly after it was founded, however, the men invited their wives as guests and, as current club President Betty Ward of Mountain View notes, the women eventually took over.

Annual flower shows grew into a featured club event, beginning with the inaugural show in 1929. Along with overflowing vases, giant dahlias the size of dinner plates and other gardening delights, by 1933, pet parades were part of the show. Expert roundtables, fieldtrips and plant sales followed, along with new members.

Although the club is thriving today, 40-year member Joan Tankersley noted that the organi-

zation dwindled to approximately

35 members at one time. She attributes the club’s long-term resilience in part to the friendliness of members.

“No matter who you sit next to, immediately you can talk to them,” Tankersley said. “I think it’s because we all have gardening in common, and gardeners are pretty good people.”

Garden Club promotes civic beauty

Beautifying the community and spreading its mission of “stimulating interest in plants and gardening and furthering horticultural knowledge” is central to the Garden Club’s work.

Members began planting the colorful triangle of wildflowers that anchors the intersection of San Antonio Road, Edith Avenue and Main Street in 1938, a tradition that continues today. The club’s contributions include the drought-resistant trees planted at the main library in 1949 and the ongoing maintenance of the Los Altos History House Garden.

The club established a scholarship fund for Foothill College students pursuing degrees in horticulture as a way to invest in the next generation’s interest in the art and science of gardening. First endowed by longtime Garden Club member Margaret Adams, donations now support the scholarship fund.

“The Garden Club helped me to continue my studies,” said 2014 scholarship recipient Veronica Evans, who recently returned to school after being laid off. “It really does open doors to people who otherwise would not have access.”

The club’s spirit of sharing continued at the 85th anniversary celebration as new members mingled with 50-year mainstays who came from as far away as Sparks, Nevada.

The Garden Club of Los Altos meets 12:15 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of every month, except July, November and December, at Los Altos Lutheran Church, 460 S. El Monte Ave.

For membership details and more information, visit

Los Altos Garden Club celebrates 85th Birthday - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

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