Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Low Maintenance Garden Club

 My own front garden

I moved house a couple of years ago to an area where I didn't know a soul. What to do? To meet new people you are often advised to join a club. As I love to garden a garden club would be just the ticket. So I searched high and low but was unable to find a local garden club. Hmmm
 Rosa Blanc Double de Coubert at the back and Sombreuil in front, both have a divine scent

At that point I could have given up I suppose but I didn't, instead I came up with a cunning plan. I wrote a open letter telling people that I wanted to start a garden club and asking them if they were interested in joining. That open letter was photocopied 200 times and one fine day I put on my walking boots and went into my village looking for pretty front gardens. The reasoning behind that idea was that behind every gorgeous front garden there must live a keen gardener and I wasn't wrong. At every beautiful front garden I popped my letter in the letterbox. Even before I got home the phone was ringing with people wanting to join my garden club to be. Success!
A recent visit of my garden club to a Peony nursery abroad (Belgium)

The first meeting was held at my home with 16 people attending. Later on some more joined and others fell by the way side as they couldn't handle the way this particular garden club was set up. The thing is that I wanted to have fun, extend my horticultural knowledge and visit gardens near and far but I didn't want a traditional club with a chair(wo)man, secretary and treasurer. I'm a free spirit and do not want to be tied down with rubbish like that, especially not when it became clear to me that the others saw me in the role of chairperson. That was so not going to happen. And it didn't.
 As all members of my club are adults I didn't see the need of a nanny aka chairperson and after some persuasion the others agreed. A treasurer we didn't need either as we all pay our own entrance fee and such when visiting a garden, a garden show etc. That left the job of secretary and that we take in turns. We meet twice a year at someone's house and that person will be secretary for a few hours that day.
The letter I wrote asking people to join my garden club

At a meeting we decide together what gardens, garden shows and such to visit in the coming 6 months. Via email the agenda is sent to all members by the temporary secretary. As we have about 20 members and meet twice a year being a temporary secretary boils down to 2 hours of work once every 10 years, something even the laziest of us could manage.
Garden club visiting Laura Dingemans garden

The most important item on our agenda is having fun and we do, lots of it. We swap plants, cuttings, seed, knowledge, give a hand where necessary and we also have a meal together twice yearly and  everybody brings food and drink.
Sometimes when visiting a garden we have a cuppa with cookies or cake and sometimes we go afterwards to one member's house for a glass of wine, something to nibble and a whole lot to talk and laugh about. We have members of all ages from mid thirties to early seventies. As garden clubs go, mine is not bad and wonderfully low maintenance in respect to actual work and pretty high maintenance in all things fun.
Susan taking a breather after a hard day's garden visiting

So if you are tired of dragging unwilling spouse/kids/non-gardening friend with you to an open garden day, why not find kindred spirits in your area and start your own garden club?  It's easy, great fun and you've got the manual right here, so what's keeping you? Get cracking!

copyright 2010 Y.E.W. Heuzen


Heather said...

Your garden club sounds fun - if I was there, I'd join!

patientgardener said...

I'm sure you have written this as a response to my post about the changing face of garden clubs. You have hit on one of the things that really irritates me about my club and thats the bureaucracy, the AGM, committee meetings etc etc. Like you just having a group of friends to visit gardens with is all I want. But luckily I can now do this with some of my bloggy friends who are nearby and also hopefully if I do the RHS cert I will meet more like minded people.

Terra said...

Your garden club was a brilliant idea and I am happy for you that it is such a source of friends and garden info, with an emphasis on fun.

Daphne Richards said...

What a nice garden club! Always enjoy your posts.

Jenny Schouten Short said...

You should see the gardens here in Oostkapelle. This weekend is the last week they are on display. Tuinen aan de or something like that. I just put their link on my blog today. Hetty van Baalen is my friend and her garden is the romantische garden. I was visiting her this week when a busload of tourists stopped.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I would like to join your garden club. It sounds like a blast.

Anette the Gardener said...

What a wonderful idea. Not only is gardening a terrific way to relax, grow your own food and beautiful flowers, get some exercise and fresh air, but your garden can also be a great way to connect with your neighbors and get some new friends. Wonderful. And thanks for the beautiful pics. Seems like you have a really wonderful garden yourself too.

Anette the Gardener

Pam/Digging said...

I fell into a wonderful garden club by meeting up with fellow garden bloggers here in Austin. Though we don't call ourselves a garden club, we essentially are, but with none of the stuffy structure/hierarchy. Like your club, we tour gardens and have plant swaps and generally have a great time together. It's wonderful, isn't it?

Gail said...

I might have to borrow your letter idea and get something going here...A friend asked me to join her club and it's flower arranging, finger foods and stuffy meetings~Not what I want or need in a garden club....Low maintenance sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, there are no blogging friends nearby. Your garden looks wonderful~

Anonymous said...

Oh what a perfect club, YE! Like Gail, I was involved with an old school club in Houston like she describes. It was part of a nationwide organization with lots of rules. The people were nice but didn't do the visiting like your group does, which would be the whole point. I love that it is only twice a year as well. Not too heavy handed. You are a genius! :-)

guild-rez said...

Great idea..
I joined two garden societies/ Botanical gardens during the last years. But did not renew my memberships because of the bureaucracy and meetings involved.
Hope you will enjoy your "garden club" for many years to come.
- Cheers Gisela.

em said...

wow sounds great! where i live there are very few devoted gardeners, and it's a shame!

Layanee said...

You are a self starter, that is for sure. Sounds like fun. My GC is a good time but thee is always work to be done.

Christine B. said...

I love your idea on how to start a club. And I would certainly be getting my exercise finding gardens where I could shove a paper in the mailbox. Too few gardens around here!

Christine in Alaska

James A-S said...

What a fine and wonderful idea. I will definitely join if you ever set up an international branch.
Especially after you mentioned biscuits.
If they are those divine Dutchbtoffe waffly things then I will volunteer for extra secretarial duties as well

easygardener said...

I am very impressed by the way that you (as founder of the new club) neatly avoided the trap of being a chairperson - and becoming either power mad or annoyed at having to do all the work :-)
Sounds an ideal way to run a gardening club

healingmagichands said...

now THAT is a garden club I could get into! What a wonderful idea, no officers. just fun with friends.

Katarina said...

Yolanda, this was such a brilliant inititive of yours! I so like the idea of this garden club - the organization, the purpose, the lot!

Dee @ Red Dirt Ramblings said...

That's my kind of garden club although I belong to quite a few of the traditional type. What an inspired idea you had.~~Dee

Naturegirl said...

Brilliant idea Yolanda both in meeting new like minded people and
having a garden club that is both FUN and rewarding! I have belonged to a garden club and was voted secretary and that took away fom my enjoyement as I had too many tasks to do so I eventually quit!
Garden clubs are supposed to be an enjoyable time! Yours certainly sounds like one I'd certainly enjoy!

LostRoses said...

Hi Yolanda Elizabet, what a great idea you had to start your own club without all the fussy rules. That's why I've never been interested in joining one but I think I'd like yours!

Babara said...

That's a great idea to get to know new people. I did the same not long ago with "quilting" and so we now are a little group of women who sew together in our own houses (also in change). It's a pity that I live in a very small village where everybody knows each other, otherwise I would have copied your idea ;-) !
Wishing you a lot of fun and inspiration in your garden club!

*Ulrike* said...

Definitely my type of garden club if I was to get into one. What fun all of you have, and a wonderful way to share!

Anonymous said...

That sounds like my kind of club!
Happy gardening! Flighty xx

Flowering Pear said...

beautiful really you done good struggle to make its beautiful.