Staunton to receive $10K award for Project Dogwood

Project Dogwood, a multi-year dogwood restoration project developed by the Augusta Garden Club of Staunton, has been named a runner-up by The Garden Club of America (GCA) 2017 Founders Fund Award.

project dogwoodThe $10,000 cash prize will further help promote the restoration of dogwoods, Virginia’s state tree, in Staunton.

The Augusta Garden Club will grant the funds to the City of Staunton and significantly bolster their ongoing support of a dogwood restoration project. The Club has been working with City Horticulturist Matt Sensabaugh for four years to plant and restore dogwoods throughout the city.  Since 2013, the Augusta Garden Club and partners—The Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge and the local Rotary Club—have collectively donated $10,000 to the initiative.

The fungal disease anthracnose has decimated the South’s dogwood population since its discovery in 1978. The Augusta Garden Club launched a project in 2013 to reestablish dogwoods in Staunton by planting 67 trees in a teaching arboretum of seven hardy cultivars in Gypsy Hill Park. Additional plantings throughout city parks and schoolyards will be made using the Founder Fund Award.

The project helps to beautify the city, promote continued upkeep of parks, educate the community about trees and restore the dogwood’s role in the ecosystem.

City Manager Steve Owen expressed his enthusiasm and appreciation for the project and said it is a continuation of a vision that began in 1935.

“Eighty-two years ago, City Manager J.C. Ruff, had the idea to make Staunton the Dogwood Capital of Virginia with a focus on Gypsy Hill Park. He also encouraged residents to plant two dogwoods in their yards. The Depression and World War II prevented the fulfillment of his vision, and time and disease have taken their toll on the dogwoods that were planted. Many of them have been lost. Thankfully, the Augusta Garden Club has taken up Mr. Ruff’s vision and worked with us to restore this beautiful state tree for our citizens and future generations to enjoy. I’m grateful for their leadership and support and for the expertise of our horticulturist to make this dream a reality.”

The 2017 Founders Fund Award winners were announced during the GCA’s annual meeting in Baltimore late last week. A Milwaukee garden club was the top winner and will receive a $30,000 award to support an improvement project in the Bee Healthy Garden at Whitcomb/Mason, a historic Boys & Girls Club Camp.

About the Founders Fund Award

The Founders Fund Award was established in 1934 to provide monetary awards to projects proposed by member clubs with Garden Club of America. The first Founders Fund Award was presented in 1936. Since then, 81 Founders Fund winners and runners-up have received more than $1.4 million to save thousands of acres of land and innumerable trees, restore historic landmarks, establish civic plantings and conduct research and educational projects across the country.


About the Augusta Garden Club

Founded in 1919, the Augusta Garden Club was one of the charter members of the Garden Club of Virginia, which was organized in May 1920. Seven years later, the club joined the Garden Club of America. Over the years, the Augusta Garden Club has strongly promoted civic planting and beautification by participating in gardening and landscaping projects in Staunton and Augusta County, including Landscape plan and trees planted at the current Staunton Public Library, the planting of serviceberry trees in Gypsy Hill Park and Frontier Culture Museum, Ramsey’s Draft Nature Trail, and Lewis Creek Watershed interpretive signs located in five key locations throughout the city.

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