History of the Camden's Lamp Post Wreaths
The first mention of Christmas greens was found in the minutes of a 1950 Garden Club meeting; "Lamp post baskets were filled with evergreens and red berries by the Camden Garden Club for the winter holidays." After a few years, small decorated trees replaced the greens.
By 1969, it apparently became difficult to find 40 small, uniform, natural trees and the decision was made to buy 40 artificial trees and strings of light colored lights. These however, proved prone to damage and in 1971 it was decided to buy natural wreaths for the lamp posts and decorate them with red and green lights.
Over ensuing years, the wreaths remained, but the lights and bows took on varying personalities. During the energy crisis in the 1970s, the Garden Club decided to forgo the lights and use tinsel and plastic bows. As might have been expected, the tinsel idea lasted only one year and the plastic bows left a great deal to be the desired aesthetically. But in the 1970s, plastic was king, and so it took until 1978 to replace them for good.
Light colors changed from red and green to multicolored to the small white lights we used today. Many were the discussions about size, material and longevity. By the 1990s, the Garden Club realized that the bows had no after-life at all, and began to make new bows every year. We now decorate 98 large, double-sided, natural wreaths with white lights and large red velvet bows. It has taken us only 47 years to get it right. Once the wreaths are hung, the Camden holiday season has begun.
The Camden Garden Club could not do this wonderful work without the assistance of the crew from Camden Public Works who climb the ladders to hang the wreaths and take them down.
Camden's Flower Basket Lamp Posts
As you walk along the streets of Camden, have you ever wondered about the history of the flower baskets on the stately, green lamp posts? For over 90 years they have overflowed with flowers in summer and fall.
The tradition began with the generosity of a summertime couple, Edward W. Bok and his wife Mary Louise Curtis Bok. During their European travels in the early 1920s, the Boks and their son Cary admired the flower-laden baskets on lamp posts in small European towns. When they returned to Maine, and at Cary's suggestion, Mrs. Bok asked her husband if he would be willing to pay for wire flower baskets for Camden's lamp posts. He agreed on the condition that the Camden Garden Club maintain them – paying for their planting, watering, fertilizing and repair. The Garden Club accepted the offer and committed to the long-term challenge of financially maintaining the lamp post project by raising funds from the Annual House and Garden Tour.
Frank Alexander, a local craftsman, created the first wire baskets. The date was June 18, 1925, and Teresa Arau was Club president when the first flower baskets were placed on the lamp posts in front of Chandler's Pharmacy at the corner of Washington and Elm streets.
In early years, the baskets were planted with ferns, trailing vines, petunias, lobelia, geraniums and multi-flora begonias. Starting in 1995, the flower baskets were planted with a variety of red geranium called “Balcon Royale.” In 2014, this variety was no longer available so it was replaced with a new and similar ivy geranium called “Grand Idols Red.”
It is the Garden Club’s goal to continue to provide 50 flower baskets on 25 lamp posts to greet residents and welcome visitors each summer for another 90 years