Tag Archives: Garden Club

Learn More About Gardening – Join a Garden Club!

There are many local garden clubs, societies, and organizations in the Washington DC metropolitan area. When summer ends and school starts, it seems that many garden clubs get back into business again, ready to have meetings and host great events! Because we have so many organizations it is hard to list them all here but to find a club near you, it is best to go to a larger umbrella organization to inquire about the local unit, or search on the internet by plant name or city (for a neighborhood garden club), or visit related sites such as public gardens. See the other pages (tabs) on my blog for local public gardens and nurseries; they also can serve as resources for finding local clubs.

The American Horticultural Society is a national membership organization but its physical location is called River Farm, 7931 East Boulevard Drive, Alexandria, VA  22308, (703) 768-5700 or 1-800-777-7931; http://www.ahs.org. The property is open to the public (call first); they have beautiful gardens, a children’s garden, and picnic benches (is on the Potomac River). The web site lists plant societies including native plant societies, clubs, and organizations. http://ahs.org/gardening-resources/societies-clubs-organizations.

The blog section of the web site for Behnkes Nurseries, in Beltsville, MD, lists Maryland garden clubs such as the Beltsville Garden Club, Silver Spring Garden Club, Takoma Horticulture Club, Brookland Garden Club, Burtonsville Garden Club, and Four Seasons Garden Club. There also is an Annapolis Horticultural Society, Hyattsville Horticultural Society, and a Maryland Horticultural Society. http://blog.behnkes.com.

The National Garden Clubs, Inc., is at 4401 Magnolia Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110; (314) 776-7574; http://www.gardenclub.org.  There are 50 State Garden Clubs and the National Capital Area Club and hundreds of member garden clubs. In this area, the state level clubs are: Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs, headquarters is at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond, VA 23228; (804) 262-9887; http://www.virginiagardenclubs.org. Federated Garden Clubs of Maryland, Inc., is at 4915 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21209; (410) 396-4842; http://www.fgcofmd.org.  National Capital Area Garden Clubs is at the Arbor House, U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002; (202) 399-5958; http://www.ncagardenclubs.org. Contact them for a local unit near you.

The Garden Club of America is headquartered at 14 East 60th Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10022; (212) 753-8287; http://www.gcamerica.org. Membership is by invitation only but contact the headquarters to see if there is a club near you.

The Garden Club of Virginia sponsors the annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia in April. Their headquarters is at the Kent-Valentine House, 12 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219; (804) 643-4137; http://www.gcvirginia.org

There probably is a native plant society in every state. In this area there is the Maryland Native Plant Society, which has a Washington DC chapter, and the Virginia Native Plant Society. Contact the Maryland Native Plant Society via P.O. Box 4877, Silver Spring, MD  20914; http://mdflora.org. Contact the Virginia Native Plant Society via 400 Blandy Farm Road, Unit 2, Boyce, VA 22620; (540) 837-1600; http://www.vnps.org.

There probably is an association for every type of plant and most have local chapters. Search the internet for the plant and related association or call your local public garden or extension office. The American Horticultural Society has a list of plant societies that you can contact to identify the local unit. For example, in our area we have the:

  • Camellia Society of Potomac Valley
  • National Capital Dahlia Society
  • National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society
  • National Capital Daylily Club
  • Brookside Gardens Chapter of the Azalea Society of America
  • Mason-Dixon Chapter (MD) & the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society
  • Arlington Rose Foundation
  • Maryland Daffodil Society and the Washington Daffodil Society

There are opportunities to volunteer at public gardens, which is like being a member of a garden club. For example, there is a Friends of Green Springs in Alexandria, VA; Friends of Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD; and the Friends of the National Arboretum. There is a similar organization called the All Hallows Guild of the Washington National Cathedral, which has extensive grounds and a garden. The Cathedral is located at Massachusetts & Wisconsin Avenues, NW, Washington, DC 20016; (202) 537-2937; http://www.cathedral.org/ahg.

Showing off Benefits of Gardening at Health Fair

This past Wednesday, we had a health fair at work where local, health related organizations came for the day to drum up business and distribute information to staff. Like an open house, staff came down to the conference rooms and visited the vendors at their tables anytime between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. As facilitator of our office Garden Club, I was asked if we wanted to participate for the first time. Our Garden Club meets every other week during lunch and in the past we have hosted speakers and “field trips” to colleagues’ gardens.healthfairgreenspringsjurydutyJune2014 071

We had a lot of fun; about 200 staff attended including the people from the 32 outside vendors. My colleagues and I had prepared in advance by planting seeds and starting cuttings. We distributed about 80 seedlings of tomatoes, zinnias, and basil plus about 30 cuttings of spider plants, Christmas cactus, and a lady of the night epiphyllum. I had gone through my seed packets and divided them into smaller bags so we had about 50 bags of seeds with copies of the seed packages stapled to the bags. PlantersPlace sent me a box of 30 trial packages of Osmocote fertilizer which everyone loved. I received brochures of the Behnke Nurseries’ Garden Club and special coupons for staff to use at their stores (thank you, Stephanie). The University of Maryland extension specialist sent me business cards with the Grow It Eat It & the Home and Garden Information Center (HGCI) contact information and Master Gardeners brochures (thank you, Jon). I downloaded information from the HGCI site, including the latest HGIC newsletter. I also had a copy of the Washington Gardener and a copy of the Brookside Gardens Xperience catalog of spring and summer classes. Because most of the employees live in Montgomery County, I focused on very local resources but I did create a handout on nurseries and one on public gardens in the Washington DC metropolitan area, which I also posted here on my blog (see tabs).healthfairgreenspringsjurydutyJune2014 072

Because this was a health fair, I wanted to communicate the mental and physical benefits of gardening. I copied the American Horticultural Therapy Association’s bibliography on benefits of gardening and I created a read-only copy of The Benefits of Gardening and Food Growing for Health and Wellbeing. This 45-page booklet was just published in April by Sustain, a London-based alliance of national public interest organizations that among other things advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals. The findings are applicable to this country and would be a great resource for anyone trying to demonstrate the importance of gardening in a social setting, like a school or community.healthfairgreenspringsjurydutyJune2014 075

At our table, we had a sign-up sheet so staff could add their names to my Garden Club e-mail distribution list (about 17 staff signed the sheet). Afterwards, my friends told me our table was the most popular but then who wouldn’t want free tomatoes? Other vendors were giving away pens, candy, and granola bars. I did observe that for the most part, there was a fundamental interest in gardening or having plants across the ages. People my age and older (presumably with houses) wanted the tomatoes and basil. Younger folks who did not have the land still wanted to have a spider plant for their desks. It was just a matter of matching up the plant to the person’s stage in life. Next year, we will offer a wider variety of plants such as houseplants and herbs and I may even reach out to more local resources to encourage gardening for all ages.