To highlight the vital social, cultural and economic impact of landscape design, The Fairfield Garden Club has documented and supported the preservation of historically and culturally significant gardens of both our own members and those of our community. Over time, many important gardens have been lost, but we are fortunate to have visual records of some of the exquisite gardens created by our members. They continue to inspire us.
A Passion for Fairfield
Our Club’s historical narrative is closely entwined with the legacy of Mabel Osgood Wright, the first President of The Fairfield Garden Club. When Mrs. Wright and her friends founded the Club in 1915, they created a living legacy to their passionate connection with the Fairfield landscape. In all of her pursuits, Mabel demonstrated how much she valued the human connection to the landscape. She also revealed her humble conviction that small grass root initiatives can have lasting and meaningful impact.
In his introduction to The Friendship of Nature, c. 1894 by Mabel Osgood Wright, Professor Daniel J. Philippon of The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities brings Mabel alive with insights into the historical record of her life in pastoral Fairfield at the turn of the twentieth century. In recent correspondence he offered this observation;
“As a co-founder of The Fairfield Garden Club, Mabel Osgood Wright knew that gardens were more than just places to retreat from what she called “the whirlpool” of city life. They were also hybrid spaces, where she and her fellow gardeners could “stick a finger into nature’s pie, and lend a hand in the making of it, besides furnishing many of the ingredients.
“In her work with The Fairfield Garden Club, as well as with the Connecticut Audubon Society, Wright showed that the gardens of Fairfield could be models for our care of the world, in which beauty need not be distinct from justice.”
Seeking justice for the natural world in the face of change and because it is a moral imperative underscores so much of the work and life of Mabel Osgood Wright. Mabel’s personal passions captured the zeitgeist of her time and foreshadowed many realities of our twenty-first century relationship to nature. In looking closely at her imprint on our Club, there is a long thread of continuity that celebrates the joy of “sticking a finger in nature’s pie” while working to foster through education the vital human connection to our treasured landscape. The intransigence of these values and the evidence of their cultural relevance for more than a century of The Fairfield Garden Club’s existence traces directly back to the passion of our founding members.
A Passion for Fairfield continues to be a watchword for The Fairfield Garden Club going forward.
The Fairfield Garden Club was born in 1915 from a passionate union of curiosity and interest in Mabel Osgood Wright’s garden at Mosswood. Our members have always been inquisitive, seekers of knowledge and lovers of beauty. Nowhere is this more evident than in our continued fascination with our own backyards. Our gardens inspire us, confound us, challenge us and console us.
In tending our gardens, we express the full spectrum of human emotion; we shake our fists in rage, we mourn our losses. We smile and turn our faces toward the sun and we nurture with tenderness. We experiment, we work and we dream. We pursue divine perfection and almost never attain it. There are lessons in humility, but always there is satisfaction from our labors.
We are proud that some of our members’ gardens have been documented for preservation, research and the benefit of the public in the Smithsonian Museum’s Archives of American Gardens.
Sharing our gardens with others has been a Club custom since The Fairfield Garden Clubs’s inception. Club archives trace member participation in GCA Zone II open garden tours as far back as 1923.