BOX HILL

GARDEN CLUB

Formerly

Box Hill Horticultural Society

84 YEARS  1931 - 2014


 

When the Church of Christ formed a permanent horticultural society in Box Hill, it met with great success and grew rapidly under the chairmanship of Pastor T.H. Scambler. Shows were held in the Oxford Hall and later the Lyric Theatre, on the corner of Watt Street and Whitehorse Road.

 

At that time Box Hill and Doncaster were Victoria’s pioneer horticultural centers and the area was known as the "Cradle of Horticulture". As early as 1901 shows were held in the area with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables. These shows were the result of church groups’ fund raising activities.

 

In 1931 the words "Under the auspices of the Church of Christ" were deleted and the Box Hill Horticultural Society was born.  Mr. T.A. Stewart was appointed President.  The Society started with an annual membership subscription of three shillings (30 cents) and the book of rules cost three pence a copy (2 cents).

 

Mr. Stewart was followed by Cr. J.T. Mahoney who remained President until his death in 1941. The Vice President, Mr. M.G (Marshall) Tweedie M.B.E. was then elected and he retired as President in 1968. Mr. Tweedie served with distinction 35 years;  a 27 year term as President and previously 8 years as Vice President. The Society acknowledged his leadership and dedication and later awarded a show medal to honour him; “The Tweedie Medal”.

 

Mr. F.M (Mac) Snellgrove then presided for 7 years as President.  Mr. John. Rowe was the next President, being elected in 1976. In 1978, Mr. John Baxter was appointed President and he held the position up to 1983. John had already  served the 9 years prior to 1979 as Secretary.   Mr. Don McKenzie was elected President in 1984. Don served the 5 years prior as Secretary and the next 6 years as President.  He became President of the Royal Horticultural Society.

 

Presidents appointed since 1990 are: W. (Bill) Greer (4 years),

Ray Lawrence (2 years), Chris Atkinson (1 year), Robert (Bob) Yeomans

(3 years) and then our first female President, Yvonne Feben (5 years) and Helen Fearn-Wannan (9 Years). Helen was the last President of the Society.


Cr J.T. Mahoney initially, and then Cr R.H.L. Sparks developed an association with the Box Hill Council, and in turn they offered the Society the use of rooms at the original Town Hall in Station Street and later the West Hall at the new Town Hall in Whitehorse Road. The Society’s horticultural shows were held there up to 1997 and its meetings were held there up to 2010. The Council continues to support the Society in the form of discounted hall hire for the annual show, via their community grants programme.

 

Mr. P. Underwood designed the Society's badge with a horse for Box Hill, a rising sun for the eastern suburbs, and flowers to represent horticulture. The Latin motto 'Labor Omnia Vincit' -Work Conquers All  was chosen to finish the emblem.

 

During the years of World War II, the Society supported the Comforts Fund and the Red Cross, later adopting the Box Hill and District Hospital, where the members arranged flowers every Christmas Eve - an idea instigated by Mrs Nell Worth. A large financial contribution helped furnish a Dental Surgery at the Hospital. The hospital benefited from all Spring Show run by the Society.

 

Two sub-sections were developed

  - a Floral Art Class, now celebrating 60 years

  - a Chrysanthemum and Bulb Group that functioned for 25 years.

These sections were formed to generate additional interest for members and fulfilled a need for knowledge in horticulture and Floral Art.

The Floral Art group in its earlier years decorated some very prominent social occasions. One of the most prominent was the Princess Theatre for "The Tales of Hoffman" performed as a Royal Command Performance for H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, in 1954.

 

The Society conducted four shows a year:

- Dahlia and Gladioli in March,

- Chrysanthemum Festival in May,

- Daffodil and Camellia Festival in September,

- Spring Floral Festival, featuring Iris in October.

Since the inception of the Floral Art Group their members have played a

major part in providing outstanding floral exhibits at all the shows.


In May 1953 the Society hosted a Centenary Fruit and Flower Festival occupying all three halls of the Box Hill Town Hall. This show celebrated 100 years of fruit growing in the Box Hill and Doncaster district. 


As a result of a declining membership, less people showing what they grew, smaller house blocks, gardeners accessing new plants and products from an over-abundance of nurseries and catalogue companies, a dwindling patronage and higher staging costs the Society held its last horticultural shows in 1997.


The Floral Art group continues to hold one Floral Art Show each year at the Box Hill Town Hall, thanks to a bequest left to the Society by Ida and Charles Thorup. Without this financial support and a discounted Hall Hire grant from the City of Whitehorse the Society could not fund this event.


The Floral Art Group celebrated its 60th year with a luncheon in May and a special two day show in September 2011.  Under the leadership of Estelle Normand, Nell Worth, Lillian Buzwell, Yvonne Feben and currently Jan Keppie this group of ladies have been very active in the community over the years. They continue to promote the Society by producing outstanding exhibits at major events and shows.  In 2010 the group moved its meetings from the Box Hill Town Hall to the newly built “Pavilion” at the Box Hill football oval.  The group continues to enjoy monthly meetings, classes, practical hands-on workshops and demonstrations. Separated from society 1st January 2014.


The Morning Garden Group was formed in 1980 under the leadership of Lillian Buzwell. With an ageing membership, a need for a daytime meeting was identified and fulfilled. With assistance from Alwyn Cox and John Baxter the attendance at the meetings increased rapidly.


In 2005, the night meeting was placed into recess and the Morning Group now fulfills the void created.   It became the voice and management of the Society.


In 2010 the Morning Group moved its meetings from the Box Hill Town Hall to the Woodhouse Grove Uniting Church Hall, North Box Hill.  In 2014 the meetings were moved to the Pavilion at Springfield Park, North Box Hill.
The meeting attracts 30 to 45 members who share what they know and show what they grow by entering flowers, potted plants, vegetables and fruit on a competitive show bench. Prize cards and the “Betty Knox” award are presented to the winners. Members who have chaired the Morning Group’s meetings include:

        - Lillian Buzwell, Bob Yeomans, Marvine Walkinshaw, Beth Booker and

         Helen Fearn-Wannan.  This group is now “Box Hill Garden Club Inc.”


On Thursday 5th May 2011 many members of the Society came together to celebrate its 80th year at a combined luncheon with the Floral Art Group.


The Society has been very fortunate over the years to have attracted members and Office Bearers with extensive horticultural knowledge, practical experience and the ability to pass their knowledge on to others.

The administration of the Society has been exceptional and set the bench mark for conducting shows, events and meetings. Exhibitors were very keen to show at Box Hill, testing their ability against the best in the state. If you could win at Box Hill then you had achieved a very high standard in exhibiting in Floral Art, Cut Flowers, Pot Plants, Fruit and Vegetables. It was not unusual to have six exhibitors or more competing in the major championships at each show. Exhibitors from Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales competed against the locals from all over Victoria.

 

Growing from strength to strength, in 1959 the Society had a membership of 554. The Floral Art Group had 159 members. There was a committee of 17 and in that year there were 23 nominations for committee positions. It was also involved in many community events, such as rose pruning at Wattle Park, conducting a local garden competition, holding fetes and stalls as fund raisers, arranging flowers in every ward of the Box Hill Hospital on Christmas Eve and staging displays everywhere.

Promotion of the Society and amateur horticulture was very important to its growth and success. The ladies’ sub-committee and the social sub-committees were integral parts of the Society and each had at least one member on the executive committee. In 1935, the Society acknowledged the influence women had, and would have on its success and passed a rule that at least 3 positions on the executive committee must be filled by ladies.

Administrators such as Marshall Tweedie M. B. E., Cr Mahoney,

Mr. C R Butt, Mrs Nell Worth, Mrs Lillian Buzwell, Mac Snellgrove,

John Rowe, John Baxter, Alwyn Cox, Rex Hoath, Don McKenzie, Bill Greer, Yvonne Feben, Bob & Shirley Yeomans and Betty Knox have served for very long periods of time. The commitment and leadership shown by all these people has made Box Hill Horticultural Society and the Floral Art Group highly respected by anybody involved in home gardening, showing what they grew, flower arranging, and all aspects of amateur horticulture.

Members of the Society should be very proud of what has been achieved under the name,  Box Hill Horticultural Society.


The separation of the Floral Art Group from the Society paved the way to change the name to the Box Hill Garden Club Inc. The change was approved by the members and the governing authority and became operational on the 1st January 2014. Beth Booker was elected the 1st President under the new club name.


Document prepared by R (Bob) Yeomans, May 2011,  -  reference articles by Marshall Tweedie 1971, unknown, 1980 and minute books.   Updated 2014.