Council Honors Los Alamos Garden Club With Proclamation Marking Its 75th Anniversary

Los Alamos Garden Club members Joyce Zaugg, far left and Kersti Rock accept a proclamation by Los Alamos County Council from Vice Chair Denise Derkacs honoring the Club’s 75th anniversary. Photo by Maire O’Neill/


Los Alamos County Council on Tuesday evening honored the Los Alamos Garden Club with a proclamation recognizing the Club’s 75th anniversary. The proclamation, which was read by Council Vice Chair Denise Derkacs, reads as follows:

WHEREAS, this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Los Alamos Garden Club; and

WHEREAS, over the years, the Los Alamos Garden Club members have exchanged knowledge and experience with others to master gardening techniques in the difficult Los Alamos conditions, hosted several large flower shows and published a book, “High Altitude Gardening,” in 1967; and

WHEREAS, after receiving a plot of land in 1956 from the Zia Parks Department, the Los Alamos Garden Club members landscaped the area, planting 56 rose bushes that were purchased with the proceeds from its annual plant sales; and

WHEREAS, that rose garden quickly outgrew its original space and, in 1958, was moved to its current location adjacent to Fuller Lodge and is now the oldest public rose garden in the state of New Mexico, continuously managed and maintained by the garden club members; and

WHEREAS, the Los Alamos Garden Club is also responsible for various projects throughout the community, including the installation of a memorial to Enrico Fermi, a birdbath in memory of Ernest Lang, Sr., a sundial in memory of William Strickfadden, an arbor in memory of Norma and Robert Lanter, a fountain created by Hans Van de Bovenkamp, the Blue Star Memorial Byway marker honoring the Armed Forces, the memorial for fallen workers of Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the issuance of annual high school scholarships and science fair awards; and

WHEREAS, the Los Alamos Garden Club’s long history is documented in beautiful yearbooks, each one lovingly decorated and illustrated by club historians. These albums are housed in the archives of the Historical Society.

NOW, THEREFORE, on behalf of the Council of the Incorporated County of Los Alamos, I do hereby recognize and express my gratitude to the

LOS ALAMOS GARDEN CLUB ON ITS 75TH ANNIVERSARY and acknowledge that as a community, we benefit tremendously from its many contributions that beautify our neighborhoods with gardens that bring us a feeling of peace, well-being, and joy.

Accepting the proclamation, Club member and New Mexico Garden Clubs District II director Kersti Rock thanked Council for recognizing the longevity and importance of one of the first and perhaps the longest running community organization in Los Alamos. 

“From its earliest beginnings when the first Garden Club members decided to petition the City Council for outdoor faucets to support their gardening and beautification  efforts, the Club has promoted many projects and programs of benefit to the  community. The request for outdoor faucets was made in April of 1947 and was quickly met as the Garden Club was able to hold its first of many well attended flower shows by September of that same year,” Rock said.

She noted that the Garden Club holds interesting and informative programs throughout the year at many of their monthly meetings and members of the public are always welcome. In addition to a wide variety of topics related to gardening and the environment, there are  two floral design programs and two craft workshops each year.

“The Club also  encourages the public to attend their annual rose pruning workshop generally held in April,” Rock said. “And, at least once a year the club sells plants, crafts or hold a yard sale to support their annual awards at the elementary school level Science Fair and an annual scholarship to a graduating high school senior.”

The most prominent activity of the Garden Club is the Los Alamos Memorial Rose  Garden which the Club initiated more than 65 years ago. Garden Club members have  maintained the Rose Garden ever since the first roses were planted in The Center (near  the Community Center roundabout). Rock said Los Alamos County has also helped to support  the Rose Garden for more than 50 years by maintaining the drip irrigation, providing mulch  for the winter and taking care of repairs, maintenance and installation of some of the garden features.

“This past year a big focus of the club’s work in the Rose Garden has been deterring predation of the plants by the local deer. Many of the rose plants are now covered by wire cages so that they may grow and blossom during the warm  months instead of being eaten or trampled. The Club is currently communicating with the Historic Preservation Board and the County on a proposal to build an attractively designed deer fence. A lot of thought has been put into a possible design and next step is obtaining a professional drawing to further the proposal,” she said.

Rock said in addition to the beautiful roses that can be enjoyed during the growing season, there are many permanent features in the garden and that he arbors, bird bath, sun dial, fountain and markers all have significance as memorials.  

Many weddings, concerts, social gatherings and other special events have taken place  in the Rose Garden over the years. The Los Alamos Garden Club celebrated their 75th  Anniversary in the Rose Garden on September 9 of this year. Several club members at the event spoke about the Garden Club, the Rose Garden and the District of which our club is a  part. Club members were delighted to have the following speakers at this significant event:  New Mexico Garden Clubs 1st VP Debra Sorrell, Historic Preservation Board member and Los Alamos Garden Club member, Nancy Bartlitt, and Los Alamos County Council Chair Randall Ryti. 

“The club currently has about 27 members but its influence reaches much farther. It is not just a club but a community resource, a place for sharing common interests and  exchanging knowledge, creating beauty in our gardens, learning how to preserve and protect the natural world around us and perhaps, most importantly, building long standing connections and friendships,” Rock said.

Joyce Zaugg told Council the members of the Club are very proud of the longevity of their club

“Seventy-five years is a long time for any nonprofit organization. We are also proud of our members who have made this possible, especially the seven members who have been active for more than 50 years. They are Joyce Cady who joined in 1966 and has been a member for 56 years, Nancy Bartlit, Janet Clayton, Harvey Cruz, Jill Foreman, Jane Sherwood, Trish Spillman – all joining in 1968 and have been members for 54 years,” Zaugg said. “These ladies have been the backbone of our club and are an inspiration to us all.”

Zaugg thanked Council on behalf of the club for honoring the members with the proclamation.