PHOTO: Club members Marilyn Lane, Cathy McColgan and Janet Steinberg after working in the Herb Garden.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ - In 1967, the Village Garden Club of Middletown planted an herb garden at Marlpit Hall, a property of the Monmouth County Historical Association at 137 Kings Highway in Middletown. Built circa 1756, Marlpit Hall reflects both English and Dutch architecture, part of which is a showy Georgian-style center hall plan.

In 2002, the Village Garden Club was awarded a grant of $400 from the PETALS Program (Protect the Environment Through Action Learning and Service) co-sponsored by the National Garden Club, Inc. and the Shell Oil Company. While continuing to maintain the herb garden, lilacs and other shrubs on the property, the plan was to use the Shell grant to start an historic perennial garden using flowers that were grown in the 1700's and 1800's.

Now fast forward to 2013 and the Village Garden Club is no more but one of its members, June Smith, is now a member of the Garden Club R.F.D. that, as it happens, meets in another historic landmark, The Little Red Schoolhouse, on the corner of Dwight and Middletown Lincroft Roads in Middletown. June's efforts have resulted in the development of a Community Service Committee that she chairs with Felicia Cappadona. This past year, R.F.D. members have helped to improve and revitalize the herb garden of historic Marlpit Hall. It is located on the left side of the property with herbs and flowers a family would have used in 1700's and is open to the public.

PHOTO: picture of the Herb Garden.

Marlpit Hall was home to the prominent loyalist Taylor family at the time of the American Revolution. Edward Taylor endured house arrest for what he believed and the family lost much of its fortune and influence. He was known to be a well-to-do farmer and miller and, some say, a slaveholder. The home remained in the family until 1930 when Mary Holmes Taylor, who had never married, died. In 1936, Mrs.J.Amery Haskell presented this historic property to the Monmouth County Historical Association. She had purchased, restored and finished it as a historic house museum. It is a key property in the National Register of Historic Places, Middletown Village District, and is listed on the New Jersey Women's History Trail in  honor of the work that Mrs. Haskell did to preserve Marlpit Hall.

On Tuesday, September 15, Garden Club R.F.D. members met at the historic Little Red Schoolhouse for its first meeting of the year. Following a breakfast and business meeting, the group continued on to Marlpit Hall to see the progress made in the Herb Garden this past spring and summer. A docent also gave a tour of the Hall and answered questions about the site that proved to be eye opening.

In addition to working on the site, Garden Club R.F.D. has developed a flyer for visiting classes and one for visiting adults that will provide more plant information about  the Herb Garden.

Garden Club R.F.D. is a working club and part of being a member is the caring for the land and the historic building that has been their home since 1954. And now, it also includes the care of the revitalized Herb Garden at historic Marlpit Hall.

PHOTO: June Smith who is responsible for our involvement at the Garden and with Marlpit Hall.

Another part of the club's activity is the presentation of Flower Shows. In preparation for a Small Standard Flower Show that will take place on December 8 at the Middletown Arts Center, their October 20 general meeting will deal with helping members create a show that will provide a delight for your eyes as you walk through the exhibits. Design Chair, Tanya Ashuck, and Horticultural Chair, Katie O'Brien, will be in charge of the meeting where members will present designs similar to what will be required for the December Flower Show. They will also bring horticultural specimens as required to enter the Show.  Please call Linda Paula, Program Chair, for more information at 732-547-2593 or lpaula101@gmail.com.

We are open to new members who would like to grow in their knowledge of gardening and/or floral design or who would like to help improve the environment in which we live. That desire plus the camaraderie of other women with similar likes is an unbeatable combination. Join us to experience the result. Call Membership Chair, June Smith, at 732-671-9216 with any questions you may have.

Garden Club R.F.D. is a member of the Garden Club of New Jersey, which is part of the Central Atlantic Region of the National Garden Club.