grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Do You Belong To A Gardening Club?

Whenever I stumble on a new obsession I tend to totally immerse myself in it. It's a terrible flaw! It's sorta like hearing a song you like, rushing out and buying the CD and playing the song over and over and over again. At some point you get tired of it then cringe every time the song is played on the radio because you hate it so much. I've done all manner of things to immerse myself in my most recent obsession (gardening) including but not limited to this blog.

One of the very first things I did was to try to find a gardening club in my area. I thought well hey, these people can teach me a lot and they all live in my area. NOT! They don't want me! I have contacted them at least 5 different times in an effort to join their stupid club and the only time anybody ever called me back was when they mistakenly thought I wanted to work on the garden walk next year because I signed a sheet that they told me was for people interested in joining the club. The conversation really made me develop a screw-you-and-your-gardening-club attitude.

me: "hello, this is gina" (they called me at work)


me: "OH HI! HOW ARE YOU?" *I'm bubbly too now cuz they finally called me back*


me: "well I actually signed something saying i was interested in joining the very snobby garden club. maybe I'll work on the garden walk next year but I really want to join the club."

them: "oh. *the tone is now like i walked in wearing white shoes after labor day back in the time when that was taboo* so you don't want to work on the garden walk????*

me: "again, i would love to help out but I'd really like to join the snobby garden club and I'm having trouble getting any information about it."

them: "I'll have somebody call you back. *in a don't call us we'll call you voice*

Of course they never called. I started to wonder if there are different kinds of gardeners. At first I thought they were all the same - you garden, you love it, you want to surround yourself with people who do the same and are willing to go to whatever lengths to do that. But, it seems that these ladies at the snobby garden club think their shit don't stink! Maybe it's just bad business and they have nobody focused on boosting membership (I could really help with that, they just don't know!) or maybe they heard my southern accent and like many people, decided that I'm dumb therefore I don't qualify. Yes, that does happen!

I have not suffered much from being rejected by the snobby garden club. Thankfully, gardening bloggers are much friendlier. But, it's got me wondering - are you a member of a proper garden club? Is it like a cult? What do you do there? Did they welcome you with open arms or did you have to sacrifice a goat or run naked through their garden in order to join? Is it worth it? Am I missing out on anything fabulous that is only accessible to snobby garden club members?


  1. I was in a gardening club in the late 1990's, but then I got busy at work and stopped going. For maybe five years after I last went to a meeting, they were STILL inviting me to their annual Christmas party, begging me to come back.

    We were NOT snobby AT ALL. I would not allow it! They might be snobby now, but back in my day...

    Anyway, they used to meet the 1st Wednesday of the month at the local library branch, and every once in awhile I'll wonder if they are still there, and think about stopping in. But then I'm always busy, like this coming week, when I'll be at the Pacer game.

    Forget about the Snobby Gardening Club, and stay online with us garden bloggers!

    Carol at May Dreams Gardens

  2. I have belonged to Muskogee Garden Club for a few years and was an officer - VP and Pres.

    Overall, it has been a place to make wonderful new friends and participate in garden activities, tour gardens, go to shows and nurseries together.

    Look for a club that is affiliated with National Garden Clubs, Inc.

    In our town there are other private garden clubs but the NGC clubs welcome new members.

    Try again if you have time to. The garden club members will share information, plants and friendship.
    Martha in Muskogee OK

  3. I tried to join a local club last year. It was mostly older ladies, met midweek - inconvenient. My first & only meeting I spent the whole time answering their questions! I felt like they should have paid me I gave so much info. My next contact was an email asking for $, they decided to collect dues, why I have no idea, but I never went back. I was hoping to make friends and enjoy plant swaps, field trips, etc. Maybe I'll try another club someday...

  4. Hmm. If you hold your meetings in the middle of the week at 10:15am, you're bound to only get folks that don't have to work (us poor white-collar folks do), and that way you can ensure not to let any ruffians into your club.

    Garden bloggers are SO MUCH BETTER! I love the little community we create. :0)

  5. There are two garden clubs in my area that I am aware of. One is in the neighboring town and my husband's ex-wife's mother is practically the president so I'm definitely not joining that one. The other is 2 towns away and a former colleague's (who I didn't care much for) mother-in-law is the president. The former colleague is also a member, so I really don't want to spend any time with her. I can't find any information on a garden club in my town (though I'm sure there must be one), but all the women in the two area clubs that I am aware of are uber rich and don't work. I have a feeling the dues would be beyond my budget.

    My understanding is that these clubs exist mostly to do community-enriching projects. I'm sure they also share information, but when I'm looking for an answer to my burning gardening questions, I hop on-line and talk to my gardening friends. I know I wouldn't be able to wait a week until the next meeting!

  6. Girl did you wear them white shoes after Labor Day ?! My,my, my, what am I to do with you ? And of course when you get mad that Southern accent is just gonna take over. Just funin'.

    Sounds like a "blue blood " garden club to me, Gina - you know the ones who won't get their hands dirty and guess what ? Bet they have a gardener or garden designer such as moi , and then they take credit for our work. Most of them know very little about gardening, nor do they have a passion for it.

    You are not missing out on anything, Gina. You certainly don't want to associate with people who don't think you're good enough for them .

    Yes, there are people who think you're dumb simply because you speak with a Southern accent - I know, I've been there . When I came to Chicago many eons ago I had trouble finding a job because 1. I was single, 2 . a woman; and 3. Southern . I didn't let that stop me.

    I like what Winston Churchill said to a woman who told him , " Sir, you are drunk ! " to which he replied, " And you, madame are ugly. Tomorrow I shall be sober but you will still be ugly !. "

    We don't have a garden club in our area but I do organize and lead the one for our street. I had 40 people from outside the neighborhood show up. I like to play fun games with them such as " guess which perennial, shrub, tree this is ? " The winner gets a garden tool as a gift. Everyone loves it because its fun and educational, which is what it should be.

    Life is just too short to worry about such petty people, Gina.

    I agree with Carol, no snobbery is allowed in the garden blogging world !

  7. I got some serious flashbacks reading your post! A few years back, I got a letter in the mail informing me that some gardeners in town were trying to get the local garden club going again. I eagerly returned my invite. I missed the first meeting because of an ice storm. After a hellish commute home that night, I was in no mood to go back out. And I never heard from them again except for one phone call informing me of a plant swap being held by someone in town who grows cacti and succulents. At that time, I wasn't into houseplants, so I declined the invitation. I'm not sure if the garden club ever got off the ground or if I'm persona non grata, but I've never heard anything more from them and have been unable to find any info on them, their meetings, their activities or even contact info anywhere.

  8. I do not know of any gardening clubs around here but I live in a very small community in the Ozarks. i am a diary farmer and my wife and I put out a huge garden every year and she cans a lot of pickles, beets, hot peppers, tomatoes, and hot sauce. She also freezes lots of corn. I have posted many photos of my garden and life on a dairy farm on my blog at musecrafters. The address if you would like to go have a look is
    I built my wife a greenhouse a couple of years ago and now we start all out own plants, veggies and annual flowers such as zinnias and marigolds.
    Iris Joe kelley

  9. carol - sounds like a very nice club you were involved with. I'm glad to hear that your experience was a good one. Speaking of basketball, we drove to Milwaukee for the Bulls vs Bucks game yesterday. Oh the sadness and the heckeling we endured! We are 0-3 so far. It's going to be a long season.

    hi molly! thanks for visiting my blog and passing on the positive vote for garden clubs. I will definately check out the sight you refer to in your comment.

    rp - thanks for visiting my blog. You sound like just the kind of club member I was hoping to meet!

    katie - AMEN, SISTER!

    heather - reading your comment I found that I just kept saying HOLY CRAP! HOLY CRAP! Who would ever think that there'd be so many gardeners to be avoiding! HA!

    carolyn - that is just horrible about the job deal! do you find that you purposely tried to get rid of your accent to avoid those situations? I know I do. Now my mom says I sound like a yankee but the people in chicago still very much detect the southern accent. I can't win!

    oldroses - thanks for stopping by. I get the feeling that some of these clubs are just not well organized, don't you? I kind of feel like i AM a member of a garden club now with all you bloggers! I'm pretty sure I've learned far more than I would have at those meetings. Plus, I love that I can do this on my own schedule. It works for my lifestyle.

  10. Sounds like gardening in the US also got infected with the snobbery problem. In the UK it can be even worse, largely because gardening is dominated by older folks who tend to disapprove of, er, everything. Even now. If I went to a Royal Horticultural Society event, I wouldn't even dare say "shit". Which of course would make me want to say it SO much more...

  11. Hey Gina,

    To answer your question, no, I never purposely tried to get rid of my Southern accent and was never ashamed of it. I was young when I came to Chicago and over the course of time it just fades a bit.

    People will always react to someone who's different.

    I follow my old grandpappy's advice " You gotta stand for something or you'll fall for anything . " Or, as Popeye puts it " I am who I am. "

  12. Gina- this made me LOL. It sounded more like the Jr Women's Club to me.

    I wish I could give you info but I don't belong either. I'm kind hoping my classes at the Arboretum will be like a club and these people actually love gardening (not just the garden).

  13. A friend of mine who is also a bird expert was invited to give a talk at a meeting of a local garden club. It turned out to be a classic blueblood snob club--they spent the entire first half of the meeting discussing the qualifications of potential new members which basically boiled down to:

    Who is her family?
    What does her husband do?
    Which neighborhood does she live in?

    My friend swore that the subject of plants never once came up during the meeting.

    Speaking of Southern accents--I teach English to non-native speakers and you ought to hear them trying to copy my pronunciation. Only then do I realize how much of a drawl I have. I tell people that I'm eminently qualified to teach English as a Second Language because I grew up in SC, and therefore English is my second language as well!

  14. Gina, you're a funny, funny girl! This is a brilliant post, but it also touches on some truths about some garden clubs. Some are snooty collections of blue-rinse dowagers competing with one another for the ribbon for best teacup flower arrangement or best courgettes--usually having doused all plants with five gazillion chemicals to get to those prizewinning plants.

    Now, they aren't all like that. I told the directors of the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs that I should just be a member at large, because I enjoy visiting some other clubs--just not the one nearest to me. Interestingly, they've never invited me to come speak, and when I WAS a member a few years back, they were decidely unfriendly to new members. Yet today I had an email from one wanting them to come on tour here next summer. I don't think so! I invite clubs where I've been to speak and made to feel welcome, and it's ironic that the one nearest to me is about the worst I've ever seen.
    Personally, although maybe we miss out on plant swaps or visiting one another's gardens (except those of you who live close to one another)--I LOVE the garden blogging community and feel it fills a real niche for a lot of gardeners--be they fellow bloggers or simply those that read blogs.

    And Gina, I don't know about your southern accent, but I'm sure you don't sound dumb! Some people make the same mistake about those with accents from my region of Canada (especially from the south shore of NS, any of the Acadian (French) accents, or from Newfoundland. And I say naner naner boo boo, more fools them! :-)

  15. Loved your post! Please don't give up on gardening clubs forever. I am a novice gardener, but was welcomed with open arms into a lovely local club. The ladies are more than happy to share the knowledge and expertise with me -- and I have a New Yawk accent ;-)

    Don't give up!

  16. Maybe you could be part of a National Garden Club for the tips and such. You could always start your own non-snobby garden club and have your own annual events!

  17. Gina, You are right about Garden Clubers being snobs. I was wondering if others felt the same and so googled and found your website.

    Most will be nice to you if you volunteer to do work, even if your house isn't the top of the line in the town in which you live.

    They had me doing community work when others in the club wanted little to do with it. I was helping one of the women 3 days a week, (Lets call her Mary)and I had no time for my own garden.

    Then one day I went to a meeting and was taken on a ride to find a Garden of the Month. I thought that this would really be fun, and I even went to lunch with them. Then they stopped by my house, and I listened to their reactions and saw how their noses were up in the air. Still trying to be nice I called one of them later and said that I had a nice time, and she never responded. And I mean that she didn't even say a word.I thought that rude, but I knew that they didn't want me in their club after seeing my house. Then I asked if we were going again next month to find another house for the next month's Garden of the Month. She said NO. Well, I quit the club for this reason and because I was being worked to death and had neck problems which made working unbearable. And then Mary nagged me to go out again and do work, and I said NO. I told her about my neck pain,etc. And she said I just had a kink in my neck. She knew I had problems with some women but didn't know why, but I said that I didn't want to go out with the women to do Garden of the Month again. So she called later and said that she talked to them, and that they have no problem with me. Next thing I find, the women stop by my house to ask me to go on a drive to find the next Garden of the Month. I said, "Didn't Mary tell you that I quit?" I then said that I wasn't going.

    Anyway, I have told Mary over and over that I cannot and do not wish to do community work, but she keeps calling me anyway, and I am getting more angry with each call. NO, is NO, but not to her.

    She even calls me to run an errand with her, as if she wants to be my friend, but she never asks me to lunch or go go to a fun place to shop, just Walmarts and to the bank. We have nothing in common outside of the garden. And she just keeps calling. I met another woman in town that quit and said that she called her for a year.