Edina Garden Council Creates “City of Flowers”

Flowers come and go; friendships last forever.

In the 1950s, garden clubs sprouted up throughout Edina like tulips in the spring. Housewives moving to the booming suburb looked for ways to grow flowers in their new backyards and form friendships with their new neighbors. They found both in neighborhood garden clubs.
In 1953, the separate clubs joined to form the Edina-Morningside Garden Council. The originating 10 clubs worked together on garden tours and flower shows. They transformed the city by planting flower gardens in public spaces, and the city’s official 1950s maps touted Edina as the “City of Flowers.”
By 1963, membership had grown to include more than 500 women in 26 or 30 clubs. Sources vary on the total, but “whatever the correct number, it’s clear that garden clubs were very popular,” member Janet Chandler wrote, documenting the club’s history.
The group’s name changed to Edina Garden Council (EGC) in 1966 when the Village of Morningside merged with Edina. By then, EGC had branched out to accomplish a wide array of projects, most notably starting the city’s first recycling program in 1970. The council, working with the League of Women Voters, also has worked to eradicate buckthorn, a noxious tree that crowds out native plants.
In the mid 1970s, the council held its first plant sale in a member’s garage to raise money for annual flower shows. Today the plant sale has grown to become a popular community event, raising money for improvements at the council’s home, Arneson Acres Park. A large fountain, a gazebo, flower beds and trees beautify the 14-acre park, donated to the city by nurseryman Mort Arneson and his wife Katherin.
At their 60th anniversary in October, EGC members reflected on their long history. While flowers come and go each season, the friendships forged by gardening have lasted a lifetime.

The Edina Historical Society houses the club records for EGC and many other community organizations. To get your group’s records out of your basement or attic and into archival storage, contact the Society at 612.928.4577 or edinahistory@yahoo.com.