A Brief History of the Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference

As noted on the GCA Website, the first Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference was held in February 2002 at the Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. Early reports state the event’s mission was “to foster the knowledge and love of gardening among amateurs through workshops that stimulate, educate, and offer the opportunity to share knowledge and experience.” The founders named the event for long-time committee member and horticulturalist Shirley Meneice, who chaired the GCA Horticulture Committee from 1995-1997. Luise Strauss, a member of the Newport (Rhode Island) Garden Club and Vice Chairman of the Horticulture Committee (2002-2003), provided energy, ideas, and an annual stipend so nationally known speakers could be included on the agenda. At the 2012 conference, it was formally announced that Luise Strauss was one of the founding members and a continuing sponsor of the conference. It was her wish to name the conference after Shirley. Through 2008, the conference continued to be planned and orchestrated only by members of the GCA Horticulture Committee. Beginning with the 2009 conference, the organization of the conference committee changed, with the chair and committee members coming from clubs near the conference location. The Conference Chairman holds the position of Vice Chairman – Shirley Meneice Horticulture Conference on the Horticulture Committee. Over the years, the conference has continued to gain interest and is consistently sold out with a waiting list. This conference continues to be a major initiative of the GCA Horticulture Committee where delegates from across the country gather to gain and expand horticulture skills and knowledge to be shared with their individual clubs.