About Us

Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, Inc.
Projects for 2020-2021

“Gardening to Help Educate and Unite our Communities”

In these days of uncertainty and discord, it is important for everyone to nurture common interests and find new ways to connect. The separations created by the pandemic – the need to stay at home and to socially distance when venturing out for necessities – are unprecedented in our time. Gardens offer safe havens and over the past months countless hours have been spent weeding, planting, relaxing and meeting in these naturally socially distanced places.

The Kilgore-Lewis House was closed to club meetings and to the public in March of 2020 and reopened on July 8th with a new set of protective measures. All members and visitors are required to wear masks in the house. The library and upstairs meeting room have been restaged spacing the chairs to limit the number of members allowed in the room. Weather permitting, clubs can meet outside, each bringing his/her own chair and beverage and sitting six feet apart. The Board and Council meetings begin again in August with the 14 clubs allowed only one member who is to communicate updates to their respective clubs. How long these restrictions will need to be in place is as uncertain as the virus but the safety of our members and guests is imperative.

There was one unexpected outcome of the closings in our community. Families, dog walkers, runners, and walkers passed through the gardens at the Kilgore-Lewis House as well as the community gardens maintained by our 14 clubs, each looking for ways to get out of their homes while trying to stay safe. Greetings were shared, names given, concerns expressed, and ideas for passing the time were exchanged. New friendships developed and questions about gardening – plants and plant care – inevitably came up. Children, out of school but still sponges for learning, were instructed about the Spring and Summer bloomers and often times went home carrying a colorful treasure from one of our gardens.

New Projects

In these uncertain times, one thing is certain – Gardens unite. Gardeners Educate. The GCGC has always promoted educational opportunities within our community and to continue this effort, three new projects will be undertaken – 1) the creation of an Educational Museum in the large upstairs room currently used for storage, 2) the cataloguing and expansion of the GCGC Gardeners’ Library, and 3) enhancing the Artesian well on the property by adding a new protective barrier and a plaque explaining the history and importance of the well.

Educational Museum

This initiative started with the idea to create an informational space within the Kilgore-Lewis House to educate visitors about the new Arboretum on the property. The history of the over 180-year-old house is currently explained by the docents but visitors often want more detail so a second display will include historic photos and the written history of the house and gardens. Local universities such as Clemson, Furman, USC Upstate, etc. will be approached to create displays for the public explaining the importance of pollinators, good bugs/bad bugs, and indigenous plants. Other ideas include the “The Big Dig” and a Master Gardeners’ booth. This is an ambitious project and is expected to take two years to complete.

GCGC Gardeners’ Library

The library at the house has an estimated three-four hundred books on subjects ranging from flower arranging, judging, plant care, species, landscaping, etc. This project will create a catalogue of information on each book, archiving the older, collectible books, and organizing by category the current references. In this virtual world where any information can be solicited from our electronic devices, this project may seem to be out of date. As that may be one argument against this project, there are many of us who still enjoy perusing a book. Once the books have been catalogued, a list of more updated references will be created as a basis to expand the library. A checkout system will be created so the books can be shared with members and the public.

Artesian Well Project

This historical well was a source of fresh water for the Native American Indians and eventually the early settlers. The well still fills with fresh water and currently has a metal barrier around it to protect the well and visitors. The docents relate the history of the well to house visitors but there is no information on the well itself for the public. This project will entail raising money to upgrade the esthetics of the metal barrier and to fund the installation of an educational board explaining what an artesian well is and the history and importance of the one on the KLH property. In this age of water conservation, preserving such natural water sources is essential.

Ongoing Projects

Arbor Day Celebration – Annual Event

Chairperson: Dot Closs
All clubs are encouraged to contribute financially to the annual Arbor Day celebration. The ceremony will be held on December 4, 2020, at 4 p.m. on the grounds of the Kilgore-Lewis House in partnership with the City of Greenville, Greenville County Schools, TreesUpstate and sponsoring businesses. The event will open with the Arbor Day proclamation from the Mayor of Greenville and end with awards to the children who enter our Urban Forestry contest. 100% of members are involved.

Belk’s and Bridge/Bunko Fund Raisers

Chairperson Belk: Margaret McCarter
Chairpersons Bridge/Bunko: Margaret McCarter and Alecia Elrod
Twice a year, we participate in the Belk’s ticket sales as a fund raiser for the Council. Another annual fund raiser “Game Day” with bridge and bunko is held as a fun way to connect club members with game players in the community. 75% of members participate.

Carolina Fence Garden

Chairperson: Sandra Hamann
The Council encourages clubs and individuals to plan and install Carolina Fence Gardens in public places and individual home gardens. These fences showcase South Carolina native Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium Sempervirens) as well as blue granite. The major focus in the garden has been on native plants and native pollinators, a natural extension of the educational purpose of the Carolina Fence Garden. The Garden encourages birds, butterflies and other natural elements in the South Carolina area. 75% of members are involved.


Chairperson: Dee Klug
The important docent program at the Kilgore-Lewis House and grounds promotes community relations by assisting members and visitors with information and tours. Docents are trained to guide historic tours of the c1838 building and gardens. GCGC officers work a diligent schedule to keep the business office open. An officer and a docent are on duty during the 4 hours, 3 days a week that the house is open for tours. Volunteering as a docent allows members of the GCGC to get to know each other better and to share ideas and encouragement. The gardens and arboretum are open seven days a week. 100% of members participate.

Educational Programs

Chairperson: Dot Closs
The Greenville Council of Garden Clubs will offer several educational programs for both members and the general public during the next garden club year. Programs are listed on pages 32 and 33. In addition, horticulture education tidbits will be shared at both the board and council monthly meetings. 100% of clubs are encouraged to participate.

Endowment Fund

Chairperson: Members
The council will continue to build the Endowment Fund to provide for our headquarter site in perpetuity, with special recognition for the first 100 individuals or clubs that donate at least $1,000 for this purpose. These donors are recognized at the Kilgore-Lewis on a Circle of 100 plaque displayed in the Kilgore-Lewis downstairs office area.

Environmental Awareness – Jill Scherer

Chairperson: Members
The Council continues to work with the City of Greenville on city beautification, recycling and litter control programs. We work with other local organizations on issues of environmental concern. Members are encouraged to recycle and compost in their own gardens and to encourage others to do the same. Information from the Recycling Coordinator for Greater Greenville and GCSC will be shared with all clubs.

Garden and Grounds Areas

Chairperson: Christine Barnett
We will continue working with an arborist to monitor hazardous trees or branches to keep our gardens safe for visitors. We are excited that our garden/arboretum has been approved as a certified arboretum in May 2019. 100% of clubs are involved in the garden areas projects. Our council members continue to work and beautify the following gardens:

Butterfly Garden – a project undertaken and maintained by the Clarice Wilson Garden Club.

Carolina Fence Garden – a garden that was created by the Clarice Wilson Garden Club in 2006 containing
elements of the State of South Carolina’s symbols.

Presidents’ Garden – a Council-sponsored garden to honor those who have served as GCGC president. Children’s Sensory Garden – continued improvements to the garden for those with physical challenges. Signs are in Braille and plants with color, fragrance and different foliage textures have been added to the garden. A large recycled frog (made from tires), ducks, gnomes and wind chimes were also placed in the garden for the children’s enjoyment. This garden is a project of the Fountain Inn Garden Club.

Sadie Mulligan Wildflower Garden – a project of the Laurens Road Garden Club.

Westcliffe Garden Club – a garden sponsored and maintained by the club honoring a former member.

Mountainside Shade Garden –a new garden created this year with ferns, hosta and coleus.

Green Thumbs Hillside Retreat Garden – a serene space on the back slope of the property designed for visitors to look down over the stream and back gardens, to rest and enjoy the gifts of nature.

Garden Tour

Chairperson: Alecia Elrod
The Council will sponsor this year’s Garden Tour on September 18-19th. The tour will feature beautiful gardens in the Chanticleer Community in Greenville. It is our way of connecting with the local communities, sharing beautiful gardens and ideas with visitors and answering questions about plants and landscaping. This is also the Councils primary fund raiser and takes “all hands-on-deck” for success.

Grounds Enhancement

Chairperson: Christine Barnett
The Kilgore-Lewis grounds were awarded the status of a Morton certified arboretum on June 5, 2012. On February 2019, we became an accredited arboretum. We are very proud of this achievement; our Council members will continue to work on identifying and labeling all shrubs and trees on the Kilgore-Lewis grounds. The council will also continue to expand our opportunities to educate the young and old who visit our grounds.

Historical Maintenance

The Council will continue the upkeep of the historic Kilgore-Lewis House with necessary maintenance and improvements to the structure and its contents. This past year, the sign was replaced in front of the Kilgore-Lewis House near the street entrance, overgrown trees and shrubs were removed to improve visibility. This coming year, funds will be used to repair the roof and remove several impaired trees. Gratitude is felt for all generous contributions to help preserve our historic Council headquarters. 100% of members will be involved with these projects this coming year.

Holiday Open House and Preview Party

Chairperson: Members
Garden clubs and individual members annually share in the decorating of the Kilgore-Lewis House for Christmas. The theme this year is “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child.” The two-story house will be decorated inside and out to carry out the theme.

Membership Enhancement

Chairperson: Joan Wilson look will look for opportunities to increase membership in our existing clubs and help to establish new clubs, using our publications to explain the significance of Council membership, provide information regarding our calendar of events, budget, and opportunities for members to contribute their time, talents and funds towards Council needs. The Council Membership committee holds a coffee annually at the Kilgore-Lewis house to welcome our new club members. Our committee will follow up on all interested prospects. 100 % of members will be involved.

Rental Events

Chairperson: Office Personnel
After Board and Council approval, our office personnel will make reviews, updates and establish guidelines for Kilgore-Lewis rental events. The committee will continue to survey local rental rates and update contracts and brochures when necessary.

TreesUpstate, Inc.

Chairperson: Dot Closs
The Council works with TreesUpstate to encourage the protection and planting of trees in our community, most notably in our Urban Forestry program and Arbor Day activities.

Urban Forestry

Chairperson: Sandra Hamann
The Greenville Council will continue to partner with TreesUpstate to sponsor an Urban Forestry education program and contests for the third-grade classes of Greenville County schools. TreesUpstate donates a 7-foot heritage tree to each school whose students participate in this program.

Through this program, we are reaching over 1,600 students each year. Student winners will receive awards at our public Arbor Day Ceremony December 4th, 4 PM, on the grounds of the Kilgore-Lewis House. 80% of members are involved in this project.


Chairperson: Joyce Moore
Our website is being upgraded to allow for online purchases and donations. The webpage will be expanded to include not only member information but details of interest to visitors coming to the area looking for historic sites and public gardens.

Wildlife and Habitats

Chairperson: Members
The Greenville Council will continue to partner with the South Carolina Federation of Wildlife Habitats by advocating environmental stewardship and encouraging all members to establish their backyards as Carolina Fence Gardens and Wildlife Habitats. The grounds of the Kilgore-Lewis House will continue to be managed as a Wildlife sanctuary and a certified Natural Backyard Wildlife Habitat with our own Carolina Fence Garden in Place.


The Greenville Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. is a member of the following related organizations: