Gardeners of America

The Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America office is the national headquarters of a combination of two long-established organizations coming together. They have formed an exciting entity full of rich history which has grown hand and hand with Johnston over the past 50 years. After having read the history noted elsewhere of the Des Moines Garden Club; one would note that before the 1930s men met separately from women during monthly meetings. And it was the Des Moines Garden Club which sponsored the first meeting of the Men’s Garden Club of Des Moines in February of 1930. The Men’s original president, J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling helped the combined club’s stage such a successful flower show that first spring that a $4000 donation enhanced Greenwood Park with a rose garden, sundial, stone pylon, several walks, and plantings.

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Over the following 50 years national men’s clubs have grown and multiplied; raising funds for programs and activities large and small: The Sweet Corn Feed at Pioneer Hi-Bred Farms, the Petunia Day project, the Southridge Mall vegetable garden shows and the establishment of the Des Moines Botanical Center are just a few.

As membership increased throughout the 1950s and 1960s emphasis was placed on building club membership and programs for youth. Garden shows and exhibitions were undertaken. A Plant of the Month program was established. Popular youth programs still being utilized nationally at this time are the Big Pumpkin, Giant Sunflower, Container Gardening, Favorite Flowers & Perfect Plants contests for youth. Helping children become enthusiastic gardeners at a young age becomes crucial to handing on the mission of TGOA/MGCA: promote gardening education and related environmental issues through charitable, educational and scientific means. At the 1967 national convention of the Men’s Gardening Clubs of America, (established in 1932) Johnston was chosen as the site for its’ national headquarters, and groundbreaking for the current office took place in April of 1968. 

The early 1990s saw the merger of the men’s and women’s gardening associations nationally under The Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America…men and women are welcomed in all groups now with 31 clubs in 14 states across America. Individual club membership and participation are really where the benefits of such an organization lie and members meet once a month in hopes to entertain one of the following goals: gardening education for members and the community, community beautification and green space preservation, encouragement, help and assistance to youth and disabled in gardening activities…establishment of good friendships and camaraderie with fellow gardeners. 

The 2019 yearly convention will be held in Des Moines where the executive committee, board, and past presidents will all assemble with members to hear outstanding speakers in the horticultural field, take tours of interesting places in and around the metro area and gather to vote on issues important to this age’s topics.

The office at 5560 Merle Hay Road hosts records, merchandise and all information for TGOA/MGCA. If you are interested in becoming a member, starting a club or have general questions; please feel free to call 515-278-0295 or stop by Monday through Friday morning from 8:00 am to 11:00 am. 

For more information, visit the Gardeners Club website.

Future MGCA building site as it appeared in 1967. Basement foundation is shown. Pioneer Hi-Bred Company donated two acres of their land for the building and landscaping.

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The cornerstone laying ceremony took place in 1968. Dr. John B. Miller, President of the MGC of Des Moines gives his talk while Herb Plambeck, with the help of his WHO microphone assists with the ceremony. About 150 members and others were present.

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