We published this in its original form back in April 2009. But with January starting the season for many garden societies, it’s worth saying again:
Ten reasons why it simply makes sense for any gardener (or would-be gardener) to belong to a local garden society:
1. Inside dirt on what will work in your garden. Your local garden society isn’t only for experts. But they are there, and they like to share: well-informed, experienced, generous gardeners who happen to live near you. They’ve conquered the garden problems you’re grappling with now. Knowing what works (and what won’t) can save you time, money and a lotta dead plants.
2. Plants, plants, plants. In April and May, many garden societies organize their own plant sales – to fund the good works they do. While prices might not be cheaper than in stores, the selection is usually better, with interesting, hard-to-find varieties (as well as the common garden sort). Members also contribute things from their own gardens at good prices.
Plus, when you shop at a society garden sale, there are lots of cognoscenti around to help you decide. You won’t always find that in a garden centre. Don’t forget, you can often get a little snip of something from your new friends’ gardens at other times, too.
3. Garden voyeurism. Those who like to peep over the garden fence get plenty of eye candy at society garden tours, usually in June. There are tours all over the city. Members get discounts and advance ticket sales. Some do sell out early. Your society might also organize members’ tours to gardens, inside the city and out, that you otherwise might not see. These are great value.
4. Ribbons! I became addicted to ribbons as a former long-term member of the Beach Garden Society (BGS) [I’m now a member of the East York Garden Club]. Monthly meetings are paired with a horticultural and flower show, from March to September. Got a healthy asparagus fern you nursed through the winter? Or a just-opened tulip? Bring it in, fill out a card and put it in the show. Who knows? You might go home with a ribbon.
5. And while we’re on the subject: Creative juices. I discovered flower arranging – something I never imagined, and was a regular at BGS flower shows. Members who were talented floral designers willingly gave workshops to us rank beginners. It’s a kick to see your creation, and learn from your mistakes and others’ creativity. And did I mention the ribbons?
Everything in life should come with ribbons. (Great job cleaning the kitchen — definitely an Honorable Mention. Wouldn’t that be nice?)
6. Bulk bonanzas. The society might band together to get group discounts on things like bulb orders. Again, great, unusual varieties along with better prices. Now, if they would only come and plant them for me, all would be perfect.
7. Winter garden therapy. When things look their bleakest outdoors, in November or February, it’s a treat to get together on one night a month to think green, leafy thoughts. [I should add: A speaker, often with an inspiring visual presentation, every month grows your garden knowledge and feeds your garden optimism.]
8. Garden porn. The BGS had a great gardening library to share, and I suspect this is a feature of many societies. A wide selection of glossy garden books, just waiting for you to sign them out.
9. Getting to the hort of the matter. Hort, of course, means horticultural. But saying “hort society” in that casual, off-hand manner makes you one of the club.
10. Community. That’s a good thing to have in a big, anonymous city like Toronto. The people you meet at a garden society come from all kinds of backgrounds and have all kinds of other interests. They just happen to like gardening… as you do. Sharing is good.
All this for a measly twenty bucks or so for a one-year membership. That’s exceptionally good value.
Check the hort society links in the right column of our blog. Or try the Ontario Horticultural Association link if you can’t find the link you want. Drop by a meeting, it’s typically free for first-timers, and discover some reasons for yourself.
There is also an array of regional plant societies for specific passions, from hostas to water gardens. You’ll find some links on the blog. And don’t forget the Toronto Botanical Garden (the Garden Centre formerly known as Civic) offers deals for members, too.
Helen, I love my garden club – especially for the opportunity to talk plants and do garden related activities year round. The local knowledge is unbeatable too! In my area, there are many clubs, for the plant specialists, the flower arrangers, as well as those just interested in gardening. Great repost summarizing the many benefits of membership!
I am glad you mentioned the Library of Gardening Books! There are so many great books out there & one's budget doesn't always allow for all of them. That's a wonderful reason to join, right there.
These are really good reasons Helen. I am a member of our local garden club and they are some of the most knowledgeable group of ladies. Every bit as wise as the Master Gardener group I belong to. Between the two organizations and blogging, my winter is never dull or gardenless.
I would love to be a member of such a garden society. But here in my place (cochin, india) we don't have such clubs or activities on a small scale.
But along with some of the neighbours interested, we do share our plants, and planting methods.
When I attend my first meeting, do I have to stand up and say, "My name is Kelly and I'm a sorry gardener"?
I couldn't agree more. Our state society is wonderful. So is our hemerocallis society and the iris society etc., etc.~~Dee
I'm glad I read this because I may give ours another go. We belong and, until recently, my husband was a newsletter deliverer for our horticultural society (it's gone on line now). It has its own (substantial) building and shop where bulk orders reduce prices and, as you say in your post, members sell their own plants too.
HOWEVER, I've always felt a bit second rate there. I've never been quite old enough or male enough to 'fit in'. Maybe, although I doubt I can do much about the second, time is sorting the first so, perhaps I should be brave and try a meeting once more.
Trouble is, I find it hard not to laugh when people start talking about counting petals and getting them properly arranged for shows and . . . oh, I'm not sure I should go.
I so want some ribbons.
I got one for singing when I was ten but that is probably not transferable.
New look is great …. Happy New Year. Charlotte
Thanks, everyone! Ribbons to all of you, just for dropping by, with honourable mentions for your comments.
Plants Pages, I'm sure all garden clubs began simply when a few friends got together once a month to talk about gardening. You could be the founding member of the Cochin Garden Society!
Kelly, You don't have to stand up. Just mutter it quietly to yourself if you like. I'm sure no one would agree!
JAS, as at about the same age I was actually turned down for my school choir, I welcome you most heartily to flaunt your singing ribbon here.
I put aside my concern that they/it would all be a bit to 'stuffy' for my, and joined our local garden club last August. They are a very down-to-earth group of folks – not stuffy at all, and I'm enjoying it immensely.
(and oh. my. gosh – do they know how to put out a spread! I never eat dinner before a garden club meeting. The holiday pot luck was extraordinary!)
Excellent reasons~I'm a member of the Perennial Plant Society~Local chapter~Good people, great plants and the garden tours are a trteat. gail