In 1947, a group of local women who shared a love of gardening and ideas for sprucing up the neighborhood formed the Toluca Lake Garden Club (TLGC). From those modest beginnings, the organization has grown over 75 years into a leading force in the community as it works to fulfill its mission of encouraging interest in civic improvement, developing better horticulture practices throughout Toluca Lake, promoting conservation of natural resources and inspiring all phases of California native plant home gardening.
At the TLGC’s monthly luncheon meetings, the close-knit group discusses and learns from guest speakers on a wide variety of topics ranging from beekeeping and honey to growing orchids and African violets, canning fruits and vegetables, horticultural therapy and more. But while building personal connections and cultivating home gardens are important aspects, the club also focuses on more public-facing activities. The TLGC has played a major role in beautifying Toluca Lake and preserving its unique charm. In its early years, the club planted trees throughout the neighborhood to provide shade and cool down the hot streets during the summer months. Recent accomplishments include adding 13 dwarf lemon trees in planters along Riverside Drive, and partnering with the two neighborhood elementary schools to help clean existing raised planter beds and add new plants. The club also works to foster its values in future generations, sponsoring a yearly CSUN scholarship for a botany student to advance the study of horticulture and creating a substantial section in the Toluca Lake Elementary School library with 200 gardening-related books to encourage student interest in the subject. In addition, the TLGC partners with fellow community groups to advance shared goals; is active in neighborhood events like the Fall Harvest Festival, Turkey Trot and Holiday Open House; and conducts frequent charitable efforts such as collecting food and personal items to donate to local food pantries, delivering pumpkins to the two neighborhood elementary schools in the fall, and collecting toys for the LAPD to distribute to needy families during the holiday season.
“The pride of Toluca Lake rests on its ability to feel small and welcoming, with walkable streets where families can gather along Riverside Drive,” TLGC president Leslie Gores says. “Our Garden Club takes pride in providing beauty for these families to enjoy, and we will continue to seek out new opportunities to do so. We look forward to celebrating the 100th anniversary with the community next year. Many of Toluca Lake’s residents are multigenerational and longtime homeowners, and will delight at this once-in-a-lifetime milestone.”