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The Aldie Horticultural Society Celebrates Centennial

The Aldie Horticultural Society Celebrates Centennial

Written by Victoria Peace | Photos by Gracie Withers

On May 16, the Aldie Horticultural Society (AHS) celebrated its 100th anniversary at Stoke Farm in Aldie, home of AHS member Eleanor Morison and her husband Dulany. The event featured a tea party, a display of silver bowls awarded to members over the years for various flower shows, and a history table exhibiting pictures and minutes from the society’s long history of meetings and gatherings. Guests also had the opportunity to learn about the history of the venue, Stoke Farm, and take a tour of its gardens.

The AHS was founded in Aldie on March 9, 1923, by 18 local women and an Episcopalian minister. As noted in the minutes of that day, members specifically decided that the organization would be designated as a society in order to foster inclusivity — they feared that being a club could possibly “deter others from joining.” The only bylaw for the society was that members were expected to attend every meeting. Membership grew quickly, kindling a century of camaraderie, community service, and cultivation.

Mrs. Eleanor Truax Harris of Stoke Farm was elected as AHS’ first president and served in that role for 14 years. A member of England’s Royal Horticultural Society, vice president of the Garden Club of Virginia, president of the Fauquier-Loudoun Garden Club, and lecturer to the Garden Club of America, she cultivated the Stoke Daffodil, named for her home in Aldie. Harris, described by members of the club as a “visionary,” encouraged members to purchase daffodils and other bulbs from Europe before the Dutch Elm Disease Embargo was implemented in 1926. The flowers that these bulbs produced were later cut and sent to New York to be sold, which helped support many AHS members through the Great Depression.

During World War II, AHS members continued to grow and sell flowers, donating the proceeds to local nonprofits supporting soldiers. They also assisted the war effort by cultivating victory gardens and filling Christmas boxes for men in nearby hospitals.

Following the war, the mission of the AHS shifted to beautifying the village of Aldie. Members sold plants and bulbs to the local community and used the funds to plant memorial trees and shrubs, sponsor contests among students, and provide gifts to care home residents.

Over the past few decades, the AHS has also consistently lobbied for trash pickup, helped with Keep Loudoun Beautiful campaigns, and decorated for the holidays with the Greening of Aldie in December. During the Greening of Aldie, members hang garlands, wreaths, and decorative swags from the western entrance of Aldie to the eastern end at Mt. Zion Church to celebrate the holiday season.

Today, the AHS meets regularly to hear presentations of interest to gardeners, undertake projects to enhance various sites in Aldie, visit gardens of interest, and sponsor shows of several varieties of plants, including a yearly daffodil show for members of the society and biennial daylily and iris shows. Furthermore, the society continues to support Aldie Elementary School, awarding two annual nature camp scholarships to graduating fifth graders.

Laura Senty joined AHS in 2014 and currently serves as the society’s president. Her favorite aspect of AHS is “the enthusiasm and generosity of the members to share their horticultural knowledge and work collaboratively to accomplish the society’s goals.” She notes that the Aldie Horties (as the group was affectionately named many decades ago) are very willing to pitch in and work hard, and are always appreciative of each other’s efforts and expertise.

The AHS is tentatively planning to host a plant sale this fall. Be sure to check out their website,, for additional details about upcoming events. Readers are also encouraged to visit the Aldie Post Office where a brief history of AHS, its 100th anniversary logo, and a beautiful arrangement of geraniums are currently on display.

While the past century has brought dramatic changes for both the world and for Hunt Country, the AHS has remained dedicated to the beautification of Aldie’s landscape, the promotion of horticultural knowledge, and the preservation of a close-knit community. “Our friendships, traditions, and outreach in the Aldie community are valued by all of our members,” Senty emphasizes. ML

For more of Gracie’s photos click here!

Published in the June 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

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