When Teresa Miller and her husband
were planning their move six years ago from Arizona to the Arlington area, she was clear on one thing. Mature trees were a must-have for their new neighborhood. When she saw the well-tended streets, the immaculately kept homes and the established live oaks in the Wimbledon community, Miller recalls, “I knew this was it.”
Miller is now board president of the Wimbledon Garden Club, a volunteer women’s organization formed in 1980 whose roots are an inextricable part of the neighborhood, which covers roughly two square miles, bordered by Wimbledon Drive to the south, Bowen Road to the east, Bardin Road to the north, and Mansfield Road to the east.
While close to I-20 and adjacent to excellent public and private schools and an abundance of shopping and restaurants, it remains a quiet and verdant section of the city, with plenty of activity on its winding fitness trails, all friendly to dogs and young families. A natural canopy of trees, part of the native Cross Timbers Forest, means plenty of wildlife is on view, with resident bobcats, foxes, hawks, and great blue herons. Karen Ellen Anderson, a former board president and current board member, has lived in Wimbledon for 25 years, though in two different houses. (Stories abound about residents who find their need for space changes and yet choose to stay in the neighborhood.) The Garden Club is a means to beautify the surroundings, but just as important are the connections it fosters among members, who say this creates a ripple effect.
“The friendships are the amazing thing. People here know their neighbors. They stop to visit when they are out for a bike ride or walking the dog.”
With 89 members on its roster,
the Garden Club still boasts four who were there in the beginning – Carole Hoyer, Nancy Hunt, Wilma Mitchell, and Carole Terry. While membership is restricted to women, Anderson and Miller note that husbands are occasionally drafted into service, at least when heavy lifting is required. Fundraising is supported primarily through member dues, although this has been supplemented in the past by plant sales. Each August, members deliver the current newsletter to each home in an effort to recruit green thumbs new to the area. The Garden Club’s website, wgc2.com, includes tips for North Texas gardening, as well as upcoming events.
A stroll through the streets of Wimbledon
reveals the Garden Club’s footprint everywhere. The median at Bardin and Racquet Club drive is thoroughly tended to and planted seasonally. Wimbledon Park was founded in 1985, and over the years members have logged hundreds of hours planting and watering trees and flowers, as well as doing the less glamorous work of deadheading and ensuring mulch is in place. Within the park, an empty lot not slated for development by the city was been transformed into a tranquil area of perennial beds, and was dedicated as The West Garden by the city in June 1999.
The University of Kansas, which follows the Monarch Butterfly Migration across North America, has certified the West Garden, another major project for the club, as a Monarch way station. Many residents walk there most every day, says Miller, and enjoy spending time among the flowerbeds and benches maintained by membership effort and dues. Within the West Garden and throughout Wimbledon Park, benches and trees have been donated, with the most recently planted trees requiring hand watering by members for two years.
Another distinctive part of the neighborhood
can be found in the antique style street signs, which members ensure are kept in pristine condition. The holiday season is particularly busy for the group, as immediately after Thanksgiving the members hang large red bows – produced through the fall at bow-tying parties – on every mailbox. The Garden Club sponsors seven programs a year, and the group enjoys hearing from speakers who not only discuss matters such as landscaping native trees, perennials, and organic gardening, but also address issues around community safety and policies for the Arlington Public Library. Other meetings have included presentations from local authors and artists.
Two social gatherings bring together members and their spouses: a progressive dinner in December, and a barbeque in July. The organization is intent on giving back, donating funds to Arlington non-profits, including Ronald McDonald House Open Arms Health Clinic, which provides medical care and supplies to those in need.
Wimbledon is a place where the love of the community is evident,
says Miller, in the ways so many of its residents are dedicated to keeping it beautiful while spending time together. Anderson asserts it is a vibrant place where people across many stages of life find common interests: “We see kids heading to the park, retired folks working on their yards, and people engaged in civic work for organizations that make Arlington a great place to live.”