About Our Club
The purpose of The New Orleans Town Gardeners (NOTG) is reflected in its programs and projects in three areas of focus – horticulture, conservation, and floral design – and our members put these skills and concepts into practice to benefit the greater New Orleans community. Additionally, the club hosts speakers and workshops to broaden members’ and the general public’s knowledge in these three areas. The club is a member of the Garden Club of America (GCA).
The New Orleans Town Gardeners' shared appreciation of horticulture, floral design, garden history and design, and conservation all find ways to flourish, not only in our fellowship but also by enriching the environment of our historic city for this and future generations.
Civic beautification is at the heart of the NOTG’s 65 active and 50+ affiliate members. For more than seven decades, the club has led city-wide improvement projects such as major restoration and landscaping of Lee Circle, historic Jackson Square, the Hermann-Grima/Gallier Historic Houses, Latter Library, Louisiana Nature Center, Longue Vue House and Gardens, and City Park.
The NOTG supports coastal restoration efforts by funding an annual scholarship for graduate student research and by partnering with Common Ground Relief and Sustaining our Urban Landscape (SOUL). Our civic engagements change over the decades, but they remain centered on the core mission of the Garden Club of America.
Members arrange flowers and greenery in the New Orleans Museum of Art Great Hall’s massive urns. They also weed, plant, and maintain several areas within City Park as well as remove invasives and plant native species in the park’s 1,500 acres through the Partners for Plants program.
The NOTG became a member of the GCA on December 10, 1952. The GCA currently consists of 201 member clubs divided into twelve geographical Zones throughout the United States with 18,000 members. The Club is one of twenty clubs in Zone IX, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas. In 2019, GCA clubs collectively donated $3,216,575 to civic and community projects and together donated $342,150 for local scholarships and internship grants. Since its founding, the NOTG has donated over $1 million to the greater New Orleans community.
In the beginning
On May 30, 1949, a group of women who belonged to the Garden Club of the Junior League of New Orleans met and decided to petition for a club membership to the Garden Club of America. The Club’s first conservation project was the preservation of the giant oak trees in the garden of the Home of the Incurables. By October 28, 1952, the petitioning group had a fixed membership, constitution, revised by-laws, set meetings, and a full slate of officers. On December 10, 1952, the Garden Club of America voted unanimously to elect the Town Gardeners for membership. The New Orleans Public Library was completed in 1952 and needed plantings and maintenance for its patios, and the NOTG adopted one of the patios for a new project in 1956. The NOTG funded and maintained the two garden projects until 1967.
In 1965, the Club turned its attention to the thousand trees lost and numerous local gardens ruined after Hurricane Betsy. The NOTG funded the planting of over 100 trees in Audubon Park, a combination of caliper and live oaks. In 1967, the club worked with the Christian Women’s Exchange (the Hermann-Grima House) in the Vieux Carre to research and bring its garden back to the original 1830 planting. In 1969, the club agreed to design the garden of Gallier House, another historic house museum in the French Quarter. Also, the NOTG helped in obtaining a Legislative Act establishing the Louisiana Historical Preservation and Cultural Commission as a liaison for the National Register.
In 1974, the NOTG designed and purchased plant material for a small garden at the Sophie B. Newcomb College (part of Tulane University) Dean’s home. The Town Gardeners also designed and planted a patio for Madame John’s Legacy, an historic house in the French Quarter and one of the city’s Bicentennial Projects in 1975. The Greenhouse, our first gardening project for a central city high school, began for juniors to participate. And in 1979, the club voted to plan and fund a container garden at the newly completed Louisiana Nature Center.
In 1981, the revival of New Orleans City Park’s Rose Garden planning began in partnership with the Rose Society, the Friends of City Park, and the Garden Study Club. In 1983, the Lee Circle Beautification Project began with planting and landscaping the space as well as procuring benches and barricades during Carnival parades to protect the area. The Nature Center then received funding for a year-round Teaching Greenhouse to serve young students, plant therapy programs, wildflower research and propagation, and endangered species propagation.
In 1983, the members created a library to honor its members. In June 1986, a formal act of donation was made to gift the collection to the Southwestern Architectural Archive at Tulane University. Today, this extensive collection of over 1,000 rare and regional garden books has become a highly respected research facility with its own designated space.
Recognizing the lack of horticulture “how-to” books geared specifically to this area’s unique growing conditions, the NOTG, together with the Garden Study Club, wrote The How to Grow Better Day-by-Day Gardener’s Guide, an informative resource calendar that offered month-to-month advice to beginners and advanced gardeners.
In 1987, the NOTG planned the first Art-in Bloom fundraiser at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the premier event was held in the spring of 1988.
After 40 years, the NOTG formed a long-range planning committee. Over this decade, old and new projects were funded and adopted for longer periods. The Jackson Square Beautification project was a partnership with the Parkway and Park Commission which embarked on a beautification program of the historic square at the center of the French Quarter. The project required the removal of many dead trees, and members funded new trees and shrubs, repaired the irrigation system, and added trash containers and signage. Funds were donated to the Preservation Resource Center for 30 trees to be planted along Magazine Street for “Operation Comeback” street trees. In 1995, the members funded the construction, program development, and maintenance of the Discovery Garden Lath House at Longue Vue House and Gardens.
In 1998, members started the PropaGators gardening class, which laid the foundation for the nationally acclaimed Edible Schoolyard New Orleans. From its modest club birth, the program now serves six inner-city public charter schools with gardening, cooking and nutrition education, “Changing the way kids eat, learn and live in New Orleans.”
Over the decade, the NOTG continued to financially support these programs.
Another sizable contribution was made to Jackson Square to refurbish its fountain. The Club started to fund its PropaGators’ program and began bringing it to several charter schools in New Orleans. Members worked with younger students and taught them about gardening and healthy eating while completing fun activities. The beginning of the NOTG Coastal Erosion Scholarship started and continues today.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, projects heavily shifted to serving the needs of our public and charter schools. The Club funded the Kaboom Playground Project at Green Middle School. Monies also went to several historic houses and gardens, Jackson Square, and City Park to replenish lost plantings. In 2007, funds were allocated to bound Gen Trimble’s Afton Villa journals for the Tulane Garden Library.
With the help of the Zone IX Horticulture Fund and the Founders Fund Award in 2007, the NOTG partnered with the Garden Study Club to restore City Park’s Popp’s Bandstand near our Centennial Cypress Grove Project. With a significant donation in 2010, Town Gardeners served as the catalyst for landscaping the grounds of the historic Latter Library, a century-old house on St. Charles Avenue. They helped establish the Latter Library Garden Conservancy for its ongoing enhancement and maintenance.
Other notable projects include the Butterfly Garden at Langston Hughes Academy in 2014 and the Budding Entrepreneurs/Growing Leaders Enrichment Program with the Edible Schoolyard. In 2016, NOTG funded the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts’ Press Street Garden project, the Common Ground Relief for the Environmental Youth Education and Outreach program, and the New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation for the New Arrival Garden project. In 2018, the Town Gardeners funded Grow Dat Youth Farm’s Birding Corridor, Firstline Schools projects at Arthur Ashe School’s Edible Schoolyard, Louisiana Landmarks Society for landscape and garden projects at Pitot House, and projects for Partners for Plants.
You can learn more about our partner organizations in the Community section of this website. The NOTG enjoys its long-term relationships with these organizations.