Garden History and Design
A Century of Documenting Gardens
The Garden History and Design Committee seeks to educate GCA members about styles and trends in landscape and garden design, and to demonstrate that American gardens are an integral part of the cultural and social life of the communities where these gardens exist.
The GCA’s Historic Gardens Committee was the earliest committee that focused its efforts of documenting garden history. It was formed in 1914, just one year after the GCA’s founding. Five years later, the GCA Slides Committee was inaugurated and committee members set out to study and record not only the gardens of members, but also historic gardens of the past. From 1920 to 1935, the GCA commissioned numerous hand-colored glass lantern slides. Some were used to illustrate the GCA-sponsored book, Gardens of Colony and State, written by Alice G. B. Lockwood and first published in 1930.
Decades later, in 1987, the historic glass lantern slides formed the core of an extensive collection of garden images that was donated to the Smithsonian to create the Garden Club of America Collection. Today the GCA’s Garden History & Design Committee supports the documentation of landscape history and contemporary garden design by continuing to contribute images to the Archives of American Gardens. So, while the GHD Committee is relatively young compared to some other GCA committees, the idea of educating members and the public about garden history and design and the importance of capturing our garden heritage stretches back to the very beginnings of the Garden Club of America. Remember, the gardens documented today will be those that historians look to in the distant future.
Today, GCA members are able to access thousands of garden images from the Garden Club of America Collection at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Gardens whenever they wish to supplement articles, exhibits, and lectures with beautiful examples of garden design.