Pacific Palisades Garden Club Began during WWII

(Editor’s note: The Pacific Palisades Garden Club’s history was chronicled in the Palisadian-Post on January 13, 1972. Below is an abbreviated version of that article.)

Pacific Palisades Garden Club was an outgrowth of Victory Garden classes held here during World War II with Ralph Wescott as instructor for the Los Angeles City Schools Adult Education Division.

In 1941, Pacific Palisades was a small isolated community and during the war, the necessity of relying on our own ingenuity and local resources was very real. Paul Spring was in charge of the Victory Gardens.

Possibility of finding space in the Palisades for gardening is hard to understand now, but during this period the men of the Fire Department cultivated all the property which is now occupied by the Richfield Station, Glendale Federal Savings and Loan, House of Lee, Sanders, all the way to the Mobil station. This land was all vegetables.

A variety of plants provides a healthy ecosystem for insects. Photo: Wendy Price Anderson
A variety of plants provides a healthy ecosystem for insects.
Photo: Wendy Price Anderson

During the war, members brought their surplus to a common center and exchanged produce. To this day, garden club members still bring plants to the meetings for sale as a means of supplying funds to bring top gardening experts to the meetings for education and entertaining advantages.

On August 7, 1944, the gardening group met in Legion Hall and organized under the name of Pacific Palisades Fuchsia and Garden Club. Mrs. Paul Spring was elected president. Some months later it was decided that while the Palisades was becoming famous for the lovely fuchsias grown here, they would enlarge the scope of the club and not confine it to one type of flower only. The name was changed to Pacific Palisades Garden Club.

Meetings were held in the Scout building, then transferred to Legion Hall and due to the growth of the organization from 20 members to 126 local men and women, meetings were held in the Community Clubhouse.

The presidents of the garden club in the order in which they have served are: Mrs. Paul Spring, Mrs. Frank Salisbury, Mrs. Winifred Knowlton, Mrs. Eleanor Karg, Mr. James Balmayne, Mrs. A Ben Ellery, Mr. Paul Silvius, Mr. Paul Spring, Dr. Ernest Stone, Mr. Irving Sherlock, Mrs. Thomas Sutherland, Mrs. Robert Gould, Mrs. Charles Johnson, Mrs. L.C. Hollands, Mrs. Thomas G. Richards, Mrs. William Garland, Mrs. Victor Brucher and Mrs. Stanley F. Wiley.

At present, there are 75 active members. Membership is limited only by the numbers who can be seated in the community room of the branch library where meetings are held on the first Monday evening of every month except August and September.

In 1970, the Garden Club planted 20 Seaforthia Elegans Palm trees on both sides of Via de la Paz, the street our founders named The Way of Peace in 1922. The planted trees stretch from Sunset Boulevard to Bowdoin Street. To many this is the Avenue of Garden Club Presidents for in this area each palm tree has been dedicated to a president of the Garden Club.

One of the bricks placed at the base of each planted tree bears the name of a Garden Club president and the years he or she served. There are two trees which honor not presidents of the club but men who helped organize and found the Garden Club.

The names of these men are Mr. Clifford Clearwater, former publisher and editor of The Palisadian, the first newspaper in the Palisades, and Mr. Overton Petit, who owned the first nursery here and who helped with the planting of gardens and trees at the beginning of Pacific Palisades.

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