Stakeholder Spotlight: Sarasota Garden Club

Meet the organizations that have signed on to support Sarasota Bayfront 20:20!


Sarasota Garden Club
1131 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota

How long has your organization been around?

The history of the Sarasota Garden Club began on May 6, 1927, with Mrs. John Ringling. Membership was organized in Circles with the first Founders Circle President being Mrs. Ringling. On Nov. 14, 1933, the Federated Circles of the Garden Club of Sarasota joined the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and National Council of State Garden Clubs. Many more circles were formed and in 1947 the name changed to the Sarasota Garden Club and became incorporated in 1955. Over the years, the Circles waned and in 2008 the members voted to reorganize the Club into a non-Circle Club run by a 19-member Board of Directors.

After many years of planning and saving, the Garden center was built in 1959 on land leased from the City of Sarasota referred to as the Civic Center. It was built in a Japanese style and contained a Shoji enclosed garden, which remains today with Florida-friendly horticulture. In 1962, the Garden House, built in similar Japanese style, was added and named the Selby Garden House in honor of Mrs. Marie Selby, the donor. The Japanese Lantern, given to the Club in 1939, was lost in the Tuttle’s Puddle and was rededicated in December 2014 after being found submerged in the pond. In 1993, a library addition was built and named in honor of major donors, Charles and Julia Sounders. In 2009, the building was placed on the city’s historic register.

The newsletter for the Sarasota Garden Club is called “Blooming Chatter.” The logo for the club was adopted in 1982 and includes the 1982 adopted Club butterfly the “Sulphur.”

In 1995 and 1996, a Butterfly Club was formed by seven members of the Garden Club. It has been very successful with a grant received for the creation of a handicapped Memorial Brick pathway through the garden. In 2009, the Butterfly Garden was named after Catherine and Richard LaBrie who continue to this day to work in the Butterfly Garden located on the grounds.

In 2012 the property was renamed “Sarasota Botanical Gardens” to make the gardens more welcoming to the public, free of charge.

Over the years the Sarasota Garden Club has undertaken many projects of civic beautification and has been involved with the community in awareness of environmental concerns. The club has promoted the knowledge of floral arts, gardening, conservation and preservation of our fragile ecology. Other projects have been working with Habitat for Humanity, Children with Autism, Independent and Assisted Living and their related components, the Mable Ringling Secret Garden, community gardens, the annual flower show and consultation with various aspects of the community.

How many members do you have?

Currently there are 170 members. The number of visitors and others who use the building or visit is approximately 16,000 each year.

Who is on your leadership team?

Our 19-member board is led by President Olivia Haynes, First Vice President C. J. Danna, Second Vice President Bob Haynes, Third Vice President Jean Hansen, Secretary Jan Johannesen, Assistant Secretary Kay Weber, Treasurer Jane Lawrence and Assistant Treasurer Penny Thomas, along with 11 standing committee chairs.

What’s your mission?

Our mission is to preserve our tranquil botanical gardens and our historic landmarks while fostering the appreciation and promotion of Florida gardening principles, floral design and civic beautification through education and programs for all.

What are your hopes for the future of the bayfront?

The Sarasota Garden Club would like to see an increase in green space for all to enjoy and be the cornerstone of the green space as one enters the cultural district. Planned green space is forever and for everyone.