Our History

Established in 1928

The local club was founded in 1928 with 68 Charter members. The Pelham Horticultural Society began with a branch in Fenwick and a branch in Fonthill. At that time, societies were encouraged to work with Highway and Forestry Departments in “beautifying the Highways of the Province.” School-ground improvement competitions were also held.

In 1937, in recognition of the Coronation of George VI, Ontario adopted the Trillium as the provincial flower. This was also a project of the Ontario Horticultural Society. In that same year, there is record of the Pelham Society planting 1000 trees for future use, in a local nursery. Records also show the club planted shrubs and roses along the side of local highways.

Niagara and District Horticultural Exhibition September 18-19 1907

In the 1940s, with greater access to transportation, the Fonthill and Fenwick branches of the Pelham Horticultural Society amalgamated. At the end of the Second World War, members participated in public plantings, installation of relief gardens and Arbour Day promotions. Horticultural societies collected seeds to send to military bases in Britain and for distribution to prisoners-of-war. Communities were also encouraged to plant Victory Gardens as well as backyard vegetable gardens.

At that time, the Pelham Horticultural Society continued to support community plantings and the installation of park benches throughout the municipality, including at public schools, churches, the cenotaph, in parks, and at the Fenwick flagpole. The records also note that a garden encyclopedia was donated to the library.

Society Members planting the flower beds at the Fonthill Legion in 1999

Every branch of Ontario’s horticultural societies adopts a flower, and the Pelham Horticultural Society is no different, adopting the petunia as its emblem. The mandate to choose a floral emblem came down in 1943. It is thought that the purple petunia was possibly chosen because it was also the emblem for a major national nursery company at the time called Fonthill Nurseries.

The club continued to grow and by 1967 there were 132 members in the Pelham Horticultural Society. That was the Canadian Centennial year and in recognition of the occasion, the society planted shade trees, flowering crab trees, geraniums and numerous annuals at Centennial Park, Fenwick and Triangle Park (where Memorial Dr. and Balfour St. intersect.). Picnic tables were placed for tourists and plants and bulbs were given to schools.

In 1970 the club reached its highest membership, with 190 members. That year the society began encouraging the beautification of member’s private residences and commenced a June garden tour which has continued annually since then. They worked in conjunction with the then newly formed Communities in Bloom Committee who established Trillium Awards for best front yards.

Garden Tour in the summer of 2000

In 2006, to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the hamlet of Fonthill and the 100th Anniversary of the Ontario Horticultural Society, the Pelham Horticultural Society redesigned and replanted the front garden of the Fonthill Library. The Society was also pleased to contribute a brick for the bandshell construction project that year. The bandshell is located in the Peace Park where Thursday night summer concerts take place. In the summer of 2022, the Garden Club was asked to also take on the responsibility for the care of the flowerbed beside the bandshell. As well, in co-operation with the Friends of Maple Acre Library, the Garden Club began the work of improving the plantings there.

Society member helping plant the beds at the Fenwick Flagpole in the Spring of 2001

Provincially, the clubs are divided up into 19 Districts. We share District 9 with Dunnville, Fort Erie, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Port Colborne, Ridgeway, Smithville, Thorold, and Welland.

In February of 2016, members voted to adopt the name "Pelham Garden Club" as a more inclusive and public-friendly, informal name, maintaining Pelham Horticultural Society as our official legal name.

The Society strives to encourage youth participation in horticulture. For many years’ annual donations were given to E. L Crossley School’s Horticulture program. We now award an annual scholarship to a student graduating and going on to study Agriculture, Forestry, Floristry, Horticulture or Landscape Design at the college or university level.

February of 2020 was the last in-person meeting for 2 years due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the club the challenge became identifying the ways that we could maintain a visible presence in the community and offer our members value for their membership, while still physically distancing during uncertain times.

2020 and 2021 were years of challenges and successes in keeping the lines of communication going between the membership and executive team. In the spring of 2020 the club launched its first social media platform, a Facebook group which was helpful in keeping members connected through the difficult months of COVID restrictions. When we couldn’t visit each other’s gardens physically, the photos and posts on the platform gave us a window into fellow Pelham residents’ love of gardening and the various horticultural projects of its members. In the summer of 2021, the Garden Tour was completed using the services of a videographer and the videos of seven local gardens were uploaded to our YouTube channel and posted on the Facebook group.

The Garden Club used a grant received from the OHA to plant this beautiful garden at the Fonthill Library.

During the years of 2020 and 2021 the executive and directors tried a combination of Skype, Zoom, conference calling, and outdoor meetings, all in the name of ensuring that the Pelham Garden Club remained vital and connected through a time of physical distancing. Monthly speakers continued via Zoom and guests were welcome to join each month.

In 2022, with pandemic coming to an end and the launch of our official website, we look forward to the future of the club and what it has to offer to the community of Pelham.