The Trustees’ Garden Club, formed February 15, 1926, took its name from the first public garden in Georgia which was established in 1733 by the Trustees of the Georgia Colony in order to assess the viability of growing indigo and mulberry trees for silkworms.
Early Club projects included planting the grounds of the Sunshine Unit of the Chatham County Home for Tubercular Children, printing a monthly garden calendar and publishing a translation of extracts from the journal of naturalist Andre Michaux. In 1932, the Club began the first of what would become over three-quarters of a century of challenging preservation projects with the landscaping of the historic Bethesda Home for Boys, an orphanage founded in 1740. One thousand trees and shrubs were planted; a plant nursery was established and the addition of an entrance gateway and outdoor theatre was designed. Work at Bethesda continued for 25 years.
In addition to civic projects, Club members engage in flower arranging and horticulture training by attending educational meetings throughout the country. Trustees’ sponsors Garden Club of America sanctioned flower shows, which are open to the public. Conservation is an increasingly important focus for the Club. Each year Trustees’ hosts a public meeting on an environmental issue of local or national concern. Club members have a long history of working with local officials in enacting local city and county tree ordinances.
Club projects are funded by a Christmas Greenery Sale held each year since 1991 and by proceeds from the Garden Guide to the Lower South, published for the first time in 1986. The first two editions sold 25,000 copies, an amazing feat for a small club of 50 members. The third edition was printed in 2007 and included updates and major revisions in honor of the Club’s 80th anniversary.
1926-27 Mrs. Wymberley Wormsloe DeRenne
1927-28 Mrs. Thomas Hilton
1928-29 Mrs. William Washington Gordon, Jr.
1929-30 Mrs. Frank Miller Chisholm
1930-32 Mrs. Clarence Gordon Anderson, Jr.
1932-35 Mrs. George Larcombe Garmany
1935-37 Mrs. Wymberly Wormsloe DeRenne
1937-41 Mrs. John Barton Seymour
1941-43 Miss Jane Adair Wright
1943-44 Mrs. Joseph Cheshire Nash
1944-45 Mrs. Lawrence Lee
1945-47 Mrs. Maxwell Walthour Lippitt
1947-49 Mrs. William Walter Douglas
1949-51 Mrs. Raymond McAllister Demere
1951-53 Mrs. Joseph Huger Harrison
1953-54 Mrs. Carl Espy, Jr.
1954-56 Mrs. Henry Lindsley Backus
1956-58 Mrs. Charles Lemuel Prince III
1958-60 Mrs. Charlton Mayer Theus
1960-62 Mrs. Robert Mark Hitch, Jr.
1962-63 Mrs. Henry Mitchell Dunn
1963-65 Mrs. John Samuel Poindexter, Jr.
1965-67 Mrs. Craig Barrow, Jr.
1967-69 Mrs. Lawton Miller Calhoun
1969-71 Mrs. Julian Austin Space, Jr.
1971-73 Mrs. John Wright Carswell
1973-75 Mrs. Elliot Abel Cobb
1975-76 Mrs. Albert Carlyle Espy II
1976-77 Mrs. Frank Anderson Chisholm
1977-78 Mrs. Albert Carlyle Espy II
1978-79 Mrs. John Hamilton Angell
1979-81 Mrs. Lawrence Minor Austin
1981-82 Mrs. Lawrence Lee, Jr.
1982-84 Mrs. Shelby Myrick, Jr.
1984-86 Mrs. James Egleston Hungerpiller
1986-88 Mrs. Archibald Lovett Morris
1988-90 Mrs. Robert David Gongaware
1990-92 Mrs. Gustave Philip Morgan, Jr.
1992-94 Mrs. Joseph Andrew Webster, Jr.
1994-96 Mrs. William Waldo Bradley
1996-98 Mrs. Craig Barrow III
1998-00 Mrs. Roland Steven Summers
2000-02 Mrs. Richard Platt
2002-04 Mrs. William Alfred Winburn III
2004-06 Mrs. Robert Walker Groves III
2006 Mrs. Archibald Hilliard Davis
2006-09 Mrs. Benjamin Huger Rutledge Moore
2009-11 Mrs. Manning Miles Goldsmith III
2011-13 Mrs. Joseph Reagan Gussler
2013-15 Mrs. Glen Mason Darbyshire
2015-17 Mrs. James Loughridge Pannell
2017-19 Mrs. Michael Jonathan Reeves
2019 Mrs. Louis Allan Reynolds, Jr.
On February 15, 1926, a group of ladies met at the Public Library located on Bull Street for the purpose of organizing a Garden Club in Savannah. Inspired by the enthusiasm of a member of the Peachtree Garden Club in Atlanta, Mrs. Jess Draper, invitations were extended to attend the organizational meeting. Mrs. Wymberly DeRenne was elected President. Dues were established at $1 a year. The first official meeting was held on February 25 at the home of Mrs. Robert Harrison. A constitution and by-laws were offered for consideration and a plant sale was held. In March there was much discussion about a name for the club. The club took its name from the first public garden in Georgia, established in 1734 as an experimental area to asses the viability of growing indigo, mulberry trees and other potential crops for export. The Trustees' of Georgia planned to manufacture drugs for the world and develop silk and wine industries in the new colony.
In their first year, the new garden club passed a motion protesting the use of sign boards on Victory Drive and county roads. They asked other clubs and societies to join them in protest. The club was the first to take charge of the garden in front of the Telfair Academy of Art. Special committees were appointed in the first year: Plants and Seeds, Library, Publicity, Topics and Activities, Garden Hints and Questions, Conservation and Excursions.