In March of 1916, a group of twelve women, all ardent gardeners, met to form the Garden Club of Lexington. Membership was limited to fifty, with twenty or more county residents. The planting of trees on Richmond Road was the club’s first large civic project. The trees have grown and matured through the years, transforming the space into a stately boulevard and an attractive entrance to the city.
In 1924, the club was invited to join the Garden Club of America, which would expand the horizon of the club.
In 1950, the Henry Clay Foundation asked the Garden Club of Lexington to create a garden on the grounds of the famous statesman’s estate, “Ashland.” Using funds from war bonds, the club hired Cincinnatian Henry F. Kenney to design a plan for the twenty-acre grounds and half-acre garden.
Every Wednesday, from late March through October, Garden Club of Lexington members work in the garden to maintain the formal garden as well as the peony garden, the only one of its kind in Lexington. The Members have been tending the gardens since 1951 and in 2005 received an Historical Preservation Award for their years of stewardship.
To continue to fund the maintenance of the Ashland Garden, the Garden Club of Lexington, which is a 5013c nonprofit organization, published a cookbook in 1985. Bluegrass Winners’ mix of Kentucky’s culinary heritage and its culture of horse racing proved to be a huge success with 100,000 copies sold and is in its ninth printing.
In 2007, members decided to undertake a second cookbook, focusing on the horse farms themselves. Entertaining With Bluegrass Winners contains lush photographs and histories of the horse farms as well as the recipes and menus that define them. Another success, this edition is in its second printing.
The sale of both cookbooks will continue to fund the upkeep of the gardens at Henry Clay’s Ashland. Members of the Garden Club of Lexington are proud to be caretakers of a plot of land that is enjoyed by school children, artists, neighborhood people, and visitors to our city.