Founded in 1924, the Violet Crown Garden Club celebrates 100 years of serving the community and sharing its love for gardening, floral design, and landscaping.
VCGC was one of the founding members of the Austin Area Garden Center (AAGC) in the 1950s and a key player in fundraising for the Garden Center at Zilker Botanical Garden in Austin, TX. Working with the city to bring this vision to life provided garden clubs in Austin a place to meet regularly, hold events for the public, and continue volunteering at and funding a garden for the community to enjoy.
In 1946 Violet Crown set aside $50 to start a building fund for a Garden Center in Austin, as a place for garden clubs to meet and hold events. An additional $15,000+ was donated by Violet Crown Garden Club in 1964 for the garden center which opened later that same year. When the Garden Center was dedicated in 1964, the land around it was designated as Zilker Garden, and later named, Zilker Botanical Garden. In October of 2024, AAGC and Zilker Botanical Garden will be celebrating their 60th anniversary.
Violet Crown Garden Club shares the same mission as Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. which promotes the love of gardening, floral design, horticulture, civic responsibilities, landscaping, environmental concerns, and garden therapy for men, women, and children and encourages participation and support in educational programs for both the very young and advanced students.
It is the purpose of this organization to preserve, protect, and conserve the natural resources of this country and to maintain and enhance the beauty of our lands
Violet Crown Garden Club History
1924: Mrs. Clara Driscoll Sevier held a meeting at her Laguna Gloria home in Austin, Texas for those interested in community beautification and served as the club’s first President.
Very first officers:
- President: Mrs. Clara Driscoll Sevier
- lst Vice President: Dr. Dalton Richardson
- 2nd Vice President: Dr. H. Y. Benedict
- Secretary: Miss Mary Palm
- Treasurer: Mrs. Burley Fisher
- Historian: Mrs. Lewis Hancock
The Violet Crown Garden Club (VCGC) name was adopted from O. Henry’s writing of Austin as “The City of the Violet Crown.” In 1928, the club became a Charter Member of Texas Garden Clubs, Inc and affiliated with National Garden Clubs, Inc.
Over the past 100 years, VCGC has supported scholarships and garden-related community projects, which have included, at various times in the club’s history:
- helping establish Junior Garden Clubs at schools
- encouraging and supporting flower, shrub, and tree plantings
- the stone wall around the Elizabeth Ney Museum
- working with the City Council to improve traffic safety around corner landscape plantings in the 1930s
- promoting Victory Gardens in wartime
- helping with the creation of the Memorial for Travis County WWII Heroes at 11th and Colorado
- beautification of Camp Swift and Bergstrom hospital in the 1940s
- sponsoring Christmas lighting contests
- helping restore the French Legation grounds in the 1950s
- promoting native plant preservation, such as the Texas Bluebell, 𝘌𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘮𝘢 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘭𝘵𝘢𝘵𝘶𝘮
- helping maintain the gardens at Mayfield Park
- Food Bank donations
- maintenance of Zilker Botanical Gardens,
- and sometimes extending assistance to even more of Texas
2020 was a challenging year for the club, as it was for everyone, due to the Covid-19 virus. The club’s Spring Flower show was scheduled for March 2020 and sadly canceled days before the event. After keeping in touch through phone calls and texts, in late 2020 a handful of club members met virtually to re-ignite the club. Their commitment to providing garden-related service and maintaining this community shone through as they made plans to meet virtually until they could reconvene in person. The club continues to have a virtual option for most meetings.
In 2022 VCGC received the Lighthouse Award from Rocognize Good for a long history of doing good in the community. With this award came a monetary prize which the club donated a portion of toward improving the Children’s Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden.
Later that year, the club participated in the city-wide Roots and Wings Festival at Zilker Botanical Garden. VCGC hosted a volunteer garden planting event for the community in the Children’s Garden with 30+ volunteers including families, a scout troop, Zilker Botanical Garden staff, and VCGC members. The event featured planting pollinator-friendly plants, often by first-time gardeners, and a craft table for children and adults to make bookmarks that complimented the pollinator theme of the event.
In 2023 Violet Crown continued to hold educational meetings on gardening and floral design topics and was able to revive their tradition of annual flower shows. The club expanded its reach to become more inclusive by holding virtual meetings and dual in-person and virtual meetings. The club currently has 30+ members and many are in multiple garden clubs in Austin. The club’s history records indicate membership numbers exceeding 800+ in the 1940s.
Elected Officers 2024, our 100th Anniversary as a club:
- President Rose Zavala
- lst Vice President Velia Sanchez
- Secretary Linda Sedden
- Treasurer Ellen Singleton
From the beginning, the Violet Crown Garden Club’s primary purposes have been preservation, restoration, and education. The first founders wanted more than the beautification of their own homes and gardens; they wanted to share with the whole community. A review of past accomplishments serves as a challenge and an inspiration to continue community enhancement through gardening. Violet Crown Garden Club President Rose Zavala says “Let’s celebrate our Centennial with our ideas, successes, failures, and love in our gardens. Continue to share your blooms, rootings, bulbs, seeds, and potted plants with our neighbors, family, friends, and new members too. Always “bee” friendly.”