Skip to main content
HomeClub History

Planting with Purpose: A History of the Lake Forest Garden Club  was published to commemorate and celebrate the Lake Forest Garden Club's centennial in 2012. 

"Planting with Purpose"
documents, for the first time, the Club's long history and
its achievements over its 100 years in Lake Forest. 

As the foreword by avid gardener, American author, garden designer and lecturer Page Dickey notes, "Planting with Purpose" introduces us to the remarkable women (and, occasionally, men) who have peopled this organization through ten decades. We read of their dreams, their vitality, their extraordinary achievements.  The shoreline of Lake Michigan, the tall grass prairies, the ravines and the woods of the Midwest are more protected and preserved as a result of their efforts.  And we as visitors can still pass through the gates of their extraordinary gardens and walk down their paths."


The Lake Forest Garden Club was founded in 1912 by a handful of forward thinking women as a volunteer organization dedicated to horticulture and conservation. In 1913, it was one of twelve founding members of the Garden Club of America. The original mission has been expanded to state that the "objective of the Lake Forest Garden Club is the advancement of gardening, the promotion of horticultural knowledge, and the stimulation of community interest in conservation and civic improvement."

Originally wooded, Lake Forest developed from a region of farms and large country estates. The trees and ravines of Lake Forest are of enduring interest to our members. From its earliest years, the Lake Forest Garden Club has contributed to the maintenance and protection of our magnificent trees; documenting outstanding specimens, planting hundreds of replacements, and sharing horticultural knowledge with fellow citizens. In the 1990s the club gave the City of Lake Forest a computerized tree inventory and maintenance survey program to help manage this natural resource. As part of its centennial project in 2012, members propagated native oaks that were transplanted to Forest Park. 

Today, over one hundred members work to support vital conservation, education, and civic beautification projects. The club meets at least ten times a year with programs focused on conservation, horticulture, floral design, photography, garden history and design, environmental education, and civic beautification.

Mrs. Walter S. Brewster (Kate) represented the Garden Club of Illinois (renamed the Lake Forest Garden Club in 1921) at the 1913 Founding Meeting in Philadelphia. She served as GCA Vice-President from 1913 to 1916 and President of the Lake Forest Garden Club from 1922-1924.