The first Garden Club in the United States was formed in 1892 in Athens, Ga.
In Collins, the club was started in 1928 by Mrs. Ralph Armstrong, who had been a member of a garden club in the town she had previously lived in. Mrs. Armstrong saw a need to beautify the Collins community. The president of the Collins Club in 1928 was Mrs. Henry Dennison, and the secretary and treasurer was Mrs. L. F. Richardson.
In 1932 Ruth Fish, as the president, was instrumental in having the club join the Federated Garden Club of Iowa. However, not all members were required to join and some members chose not to. In these early years there were 25 Collins members, but at one time there were as many as 60.
The Collins Garden Club meets the first Thursday of the month. It has been an active club, involved in such areas as: Junior Garden Club, an annual judged flower show with artistic design catagories of flower arrangments for both adults and junior gardeners and judging of houseplants, garden produce, table arrangements and outside flower bed design (the shows were open to the public and very well attended); helping with the Collins Community Fair; an annual plant sale where they served rolls and coffee in the morning and a lunch at noon; putting on an annual senior citizens’ luncheon with entertainment and caring for community flower beds and flower containers on main street.
The club was very active at both the state and national level. Many field trips were taken.
Besides the above mentioned projects, in the 50’s and 60’s the club took on three large projects. The Historical Society has pictures of these projects in the “Garden Club” binder. One of these projects was cleaning up and redesigning the landscaping in front of the town hall.
At the suggestion of Mrs. Joseph Tiffany and Mercie Wear, it was decided to make a roadside park where the Clyde School No. 1 sat. In 1954, the club met with the State Roadside chairman, R. J. Scannell of Ames, and attorney G. J. Gutenkunst from State Center about making this park southeast of Collins on Highway 64 (now Highway 330). The park would be on land that in 1890 was owned by William Riley Hampton and his wife, Sarah (Deeter) Hampton. The Hampton’s also built the first hotel in Collins when the town was incorporated. When the family decided to move to Nebraska, the farm was sold to Lincoln Tiffany in 1894. When Lincoln died in 1936, the land went to his son, Joseph S. Tiffany. On about an acre of this land sat the Clyde School No. 1. The school would be moved to a farm.
In 1956 to make the park, the land had to be deeded to the Highway Commission as a land grant. The Highway Commission put in the driveway, parking area and guard posts. They would also pick up the garbage and put up road markers. The Garden Club provided tables and garbage containers and kept the park clean. Photos show the ladies painting tables and benches white. The well had to be capped because of state regulations. This left the park without water and was pretty much the only complaint travelers had about the park. In 1957, a registration box was built to hold a book for visiters to sign and make comments in. (The Historical Society has four of these books). A memorial plaque was hung in memory of Lincoln Tiffany and the park was named Tiffany Memorial Roadside Park. In December of 1957, the Collins Garden Club received an Honorable Mention from the State Garden Club on the park. In June of 1959, a light pole with a table around it and a plug-in for electrical appliances was added to the park. Honeysuckle were planted and a brick fireplace was built. In 1961, the two outside toilets, tables and garbage containers were painted, and in 1962, swings were bought and installed.
Over the years, the club received national and state cash awards for the Tiffany Park, and 10 years of purple ribbons. At the time there were 127 roadside parks in Iowa. From 1959-1963, people from 42 different states, plus England, Canada and Newfoundland, signed the register books at the park. Iowa had the most towns represented, followed by Wisconsin, California and Kansas.
Comments mentioned how well kept the park was and what a nice place to stop for a rest from a long drive or for a picnic. Some even said it was the nicest park they had ever stopped at and others wished there were more roadside parks.
In 1959, the ladies also took on the project of the park located on Highway 65 and First Street in Collins. Photos we have show a lot of planting of scrubs and trees, building of a shelter house, fireplace, woodbox and rest rooms. An electrical pole was put in and painting done to buildings. We not only have photos of this work, but diagrams of the plans for this park and the town hall improvements. (A note from the writer: I was suprised to find a ginkgo leaf on the road by highway 65 last fall. I had no idea we had such a tree in town and sure enough, it is on the plans and still standing in the Highway 65 park.
We have a new member, Kay Robinson Evans. We also received a donation from Bud Rendfelt. Thank you to both of them.