Fairfield Garden Club has long been associated with Ogden House, beginning in 1935 with a garden commemorating the 300th anniversary of the State of Connecticut. Ownership of the house was transferred to the Fairfield Historical Society in 1974 and Fairfield Garden Club was called upon to provide an appropriate garden setting. The Club commissioned Anne Leighton, an authority on American gardens, to design an early 18th century style garden for the house. Since then, Club members have planted and maintained the garden.
In the 1980s, Fairfield Garden Club planted a traditional kitchen garden with "herbs and simples", the colonial housewife's medicine cupboard. The Club also published an education pamphlet that included the history of Ogden House, a description of the colonial gardening year, as well as a list of plants and their common uses. The pamphlet is updated on a regular basis and is available to all those who visit the homestead.
In the spring of 2011, the Club embarked on a major restoration of the Ogden House Gardens and established an intense program of revitalization. The herb garden and the landscape surrounding the house were redesigned to replicate the landscape of an authentic colonial home with oyster shell paths and wooden markers to identify plants. As a result of this restoration project, the Fairfield Museum and History Center's colonial camp and study programs expanded its focus to include the benefits of the herbal garden. These programs offer children the opportunity to delve into colonial life, using plant material from the garden and learn how to make soap, candles, breads and teas. This hands-on experience makes the garden come to life for a new generation of students.
Responding to the threat of the Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder the Garden Club started an Apiary in 2013 introducing two beehives to the gardens. The importance of beekeeping in colonial times is well documented in the historical record. Because of the lack of native pollinators, Colonists carried skeps along with apple trees on their journeys to America. Bees provided honey, which was used as a food source and had medicinal value. Bee pollination insured the garden's productivity — the key to surviving in colonial New England.
Today, with major support from individuals and other town organizations, Fairfield Garden Club has increased the number of hives in the Apiary to four. The honey, cultivated and jarred by Fairfield Garden Club members, is sold through the Fairfield Museum.
In the past three years over 2,000 children have visited the Ogden House Herb Garden and discovered the traditions and culture of Colonial times.
Grasmere by the Sea
Grasmere by the Sea is an adult day care health facility in Fairfield, run by the Jewish Home for the Elderly. This facility offers daytime care, including physical, occupational and speech therapy in addition to providing meals, companionship and recreation to the elderly and infirm. As part of the extensive program of recreational activities, several times a year, members of Fairfield Garden Club help clients create and personalize floral designs with fresh flowers provided by the club. Because of our commitment to sustainability, we have organized a program to recycle flowers from local stores. The tremendous variety of floral material collected gives each participant the opportunity to exhibit his or her own creativity. Our talented floral designers have made these floral workshops extremely popular at Grasmere.
Since 2011, the Fairfield Garden Club has undertaken two major beautification projects. Over a period of several years the club has planted thousands of daffodils. The first planting, at Brookside Park has become a harbinger of spring for Fairfield residents. With its riverside location, Brookside Park is now a popular destination.
Roger Ludlow Park
Between 2012 and 2013, in response to requests from the town of Fairfield to rejuvenate Roger Ludlow Park, an area dedicated to the founder of Fairfield, FGC planted 2,000 daffodils at this important intersection in town. A major cleanup effort was undertaken with the assistance of local students. Subsequently, the area immediately surrounding the Ludlow Monument was improved with the planting of roses. The attention paid to the park by the Club has developed into possible future landscape projects of the site by Club members.
Burr Homestead and the Historic Town Green
1500 daffodils and other types of bulbs will be planted in various locations on the Burr Homestead in the fall of 2014. Work is also underway to rehabilitate the front gate of the property.
The Long Range Plan
The positive impact of the Fairfield Garden Club's Civic projects has inspired its members to follow in the footsteps of its founders in implementing future projects that benefit our town.