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90 years of making Milan beautiful

Elizabeth Stone Garden Club celebrates 90th Anniversary
Group dedicates tree to Juanita Taylor

By Logan Watson

90 YEARS OF MAKING MILAN BEAUTIFUL – Mayor B.W. Beasley recognized the ladies of the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club in Milan for the club’s 90th Anniversary. Pictured are (from left) Lynda Spain, Sheila Walters, Barbara Slegl, Whitney Rogers, Brenda Shaver, Mayor Beasley, Sylvia Barnes, Leslie Lewis, Ruby McDonald, Carolee Smith and Claudette Cash. Photo by Logan Watson.

The city of Milan has seen a lot of changes since 1927.
Schools, businesses and leaders have come and gone, but if one thing has stayed consistent, it is the dedication of a certain group of ladies to preserving the beauty of the city as it grew.
The Elizabeth Stone Garden Club celebrated their 90th anniversary last Thursday during their annual Iris Festival, marking close to a century of “making Milan beautiful”.
The club was organized by Mrs. Elizabeth Stone on March 15, 1927 to preserve the natural beauty of Milan, which at the time was a small city, bordered by farming communities. Stone began the club with 20 members and held meetings in her home on Park Avenue. Stone described the mission of the club 13 years after its founding, stating that “the Garden Club renews acquaintances, strengthens friendships and does much socially for its members. It cultivates and brings out the better parts of nature and elevates and widens the hearts of all who take part.”

Ruby McDonald won Best in Show at last week’s Iris Festival held by the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club.

The same is true today. Club members have worked to preserve the environmental beauty of Milan as the city grew, conserving and creating habitats for local wildlife, such as birds and small animals, supporting the efforts of other groups to maintain historical architecture, and bringing attention to unsightly, neglected areas within the city. Even though membership numbers have dwindled throughout the years, as is the case with most civic clubs, the ladies of the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club are still a tight-knit group that love sharing their passion for horticulture with one another and other groups in the area through events like their annual Iris Festival.
The group also recognized their oldest living member last week, dedicating a Prunus Kwanzan cherry tree to Mrs. Juanita Taylor. Mrs. Taylor, who is 92 years old, stated that she joined the club around 1961. Taylor is the wife of the late Ed Taylor, a prominent Milan citizen who was active in city affairs.
“You have truly honored me today,” her son, Eddie, read from a statement Mrs. Juanita had prepared for the occasion. “This is the most wonderful group of women. I pray that this tree does what a tree is supposed to do: add beauty to God’s world.” The tree is planted adjacent to the large rose bushes near the entrance and walking track of the Milan City Park.


A BEAUTIFUL LIFE – The ladies of the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club dedicated a tree last Thursday in honor of Mrs. Juanita Taylor, the club’s oldest living member. Mrs. Taylor (front row, fourth from left), was joined by her friends and family for the occasion. The tree, a Prunus Kwanzan, is of the same genus as the Japanese Cherry trees celebrated during the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. Photos by Logan Watson.

BEST ARRANGEMENT – Winners of the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club’s Best Arrangement contest were Leslie Lewis, Sheila Walters, Barbara Slegl. Photo by Logan Watson.











BEST OF THE BEST – Iris Contest winners were (from left) Ruby McDonald (Best of Show), Sheila Walters, Barbara Slegl, Nancy Thompson of Martin, TN (Most Blue Ribbons), and Jane Ann Lane. Photo by Logan Watson.

ART CONTEST WINNERS – Milan Middle School students (from left) Macy Smith (3rd place), Reese Redmond (2nd place), Dallas Burkeen (1st place) and Addison Lowery (4th place) took part in the Elizabeth Stone Garden Club’s Iris Artwork contest. Photo by Logan Watson.

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