On March 23, 1937, members of Milford Chamber of Commerce Committee for the Flower Show met to discuss whether the group should form a separate organization known today as the Milford Garden Club. In April of that same year, the flower show was turned over to the newly formed Milford Garden Club represented by and including Mrs. Carrie Ludwig, Mrs. Thelma Bryce, Mrs. Carrie DePuy, and Mrs. Ethel Barckley.
Memorable projects and activities championed by the club included the participation and sponsorship in the Tree Planting Bees held every spring, the Flower Show that grew from a small group of women exchanging bulbs, cuttings, seeds, and catalogs into an extensive exhibit of plants and floral arrangements, the Window Box Project proposed in 1956 continues into the present day. This group also worked towards the creation of the Milford Memorial Park accessible for all to enjoy, and the Pennsylvania State Chamber of Commerce Community Development Contest in which Milford won prizes for 12 consecutive years.
LEGEND OF THE MILFORD ROSE
Like all legends, this begins “Once upon a time,” and meanders from the scented fields of Grasse in the South of France, capitol of the French perfume industry to the fabled Rose Garden of the Chateau de Malmaison, outside of Paris, home to Josephine Bonaparte, once Empress of France. From there, the Milford Rose crosses the seas to the young United States with many French émigrés, among them the family of Constantine Pinchot, fleeing France in the aftermath of Waterloo.
An ancient rose, sometimes known as The Apothecary or Perfumer’s Rose, it was grown primarily for its fragrance and distilled into Attar of Roses, the base of the finest perfume. The rose’s blossoms are 3 to 4 inches across, opening an exquisite pink and fading to white. It has long swaying branches with ruffled double petals, with clusters of two to five deep red buds surrounding the bloom. It was among the vast collection in Empress Josephine’s rose garden at Malmaison and it was there that Court painter Pierre Joseph Redoute included the “Rose of Grasse” in his famous oil flower studies. Alas, this ancient rose may no longer exist in France, victim of the devastation of World War II.
Happily, however, the Rose and the Pinchot family’s story continued to intertwine in Milford. A grandson, Edgar Pinchot, left Milford to study in New York City, living with old family friends. Before returning to Milford, his hostess gave him a cutting of a rose that grew in her garden—the Rose of Grasse. In 1838 it was planted at the Homestead (the first Pinchot family home; now Milford Community House) and flourished, even in Pike County’s cold winters. Cuttings were distributed generously to many other Milford gardens, traditionally always as a gift. The Milford Garden Club continues that tradition. Its emblem is the Milford Rose which is a symbol of strength, tenacity, beauty and generosity.