Mrs. Elmer (Ervanna Bowen) Bissell led women to form Rochester Garden Club on
March 4, 1915. They chose the slogan, “Let’s Grow” and held meetings, “devoted to the exchange of practical information about the growth and management of plants”.

In 1916, members initiated a project at Highland Park in tribute to William Shakespeare’s 300th anniversary celebration of his death. Inspired by specimens mentioned in his works, they created and planted the Poet’s Garden. When our New York climate proved harsher than growing conditions in Britain, many plants failed to thrive. Undaunted, the members found suitable horticultural replacements and the garden flourished. The first of many community projects undertaken by our club, the Poet’s Garden qualified Rochester Garden Club to become a member organization of Garden Club of America in 1925.

RGC received the GCA Founders Fund Award in 1947 for preservation of Bergen Swamp by purchasing 200 acres. Other projects earned finalist status: trail signs and entrance landscaping at the Cumming Nature Center in 1979, and restoration of the Susan B. Anthony House Gardens in 1999.

In May, we staff Genrich’s greenhouse, box orders our members have taken, and deliver over 11,000 plants to customers. Our annual Geranium Sale proceeds ensure continuing support of our Rochester-community projects.