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Takoma Horticulture Club

Next up in our series of garden club and plant society features is the venerable and popular-as-ever Takoma  Horticultural Club!

Scenes from Takoma Hort’s Plant Exchanges

The Takoma Horticultural Club is believed to be (and no one has stepped forward to challenge this, yet) the oldest garden club in the U.S. – going strong since 1916.  (Initially restricted to men, that mistake was corrected after just three years.)  The club originally offered detailed landscaping services free to members, and collective buying of plants, seeds, bulbs, and lime was a popular service. Pruning demonstrations were held, as was a large plant exchange where members could share surplus plants – a tradition that’s still going strong, as you can see from the photo montage above.

Flower Shows had a prominent place in the early activities of the Club.  Then during World War I, the club concentrated on the production of vegetables, distributing seeds, developing gardens, and sponsoring the Boys and Girls Garden Club, the forerunner of 4-H Clubs.

Members showing off their garden art after workshop


Today the club is led by president Sherrell Goggin and VP Carole Galati (who’s co-chairing Behnkes’ special garden club event on June 4.)   Kathy Jentz is a past president and currently handles their public relations. In 2011 the club has 150 dues-paying members.

Membership is cheap ($12/year per family) and has its privileges:


  • Free garden consultation by some of the club’s experienced gardeners
  • Participation in the club’s most popular events – our Spring & Fall Plant Exchanges
  • Invitation to the Annual January Potluck Dinner for members and their guests
  • Invitation to the Annual September Picnic for members and their guests
  • Participation in other club functions that may only accommodate limited numbers (like workshops).

All that should be enough to coax anyone to pony up the $12 – which will more than be paid back in free plants at their wildly popular Plant Exchanges.  But anyone wanting to sample the club first before joining can attend these upcoming events, free to nonmembers:

  • “Plant Diseases and Insect Problems” with Mike Raupp of the University of Maryland.  September 21.
  • Bulb Sale at the Takoma Street Festival.  October 2 from 10 to 5.
  • “New and Exciting Plants on the Market” with Maria Rojas, Montgomery County Master Gardener.  November 16.

Posted by Susan Harris

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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