Girl Gardening Gangs – for Texans Only?


Now as a long-time garden club president, I picked up on the Human
Flower Project remark that garden clubs of 40 years ago were "more
leisurely noblesse, less grunt" and that today garden clubs have
switched from beautification to serious endeavors like conservation.
And "The cult of loveliness has been supplanted by attitude."  It all
reminded me of my rant about the very old-school Federation of Garden Clubs:

Hey, I like networking, so I
naturally inquired about my club joining the Federation and was sent an
application for admission. The application form asked us to list our
club officers and then – and I’m not making this up – to indicate the
officers’ "husbands."  Oh, and their own officers are listed by their
husbands’ names (Mrs. John Smith).  Help – I’m having a ’50s flashback!
And naturally all their events are during working hours because these
ladies either don’t have to work or are all retired, I suppose. 

On top
of all that, to affiliate with them we’d have to pay them $8 for every
one of our members, every year.  I’ll do the math for you.  Our
150-member club would have to pay these troglodytes $1,200 every year
(2/3 of our dues income) for the privilege of being affiliated and
would still have to pay extra to attend any of their events. 

I later learned that they’d doubled their dues to that exorbitant $8
because of their recent losses in the stock market.  What’s up with

Anyhow, their website still claims 8,488 clubs and over 264,000 members in all 50 states and D.C.  It offers actual scripts for
garden club meetings and "parliamentary tidbits."  See, just the crap
the Divas succeed in avoiding altogether.  People who’ve attended local
Federation functions (and who are at least in their 60s) have described
this bunch as their "mother’s garden club."  But if we learn anything
from the girl gardening gang of Austin, it’s that white-gloved gardening events are out; sweat is in.  Finally.

Now veering briefly off-topic, the ’60s feminist in me has a complaint.  Julie Ardery of Human Flower Project started her article
with this: "We admit to a certain squeamishness about women’s groups.
this self-hatred?  Probably."  Julie, make that definitely.  But why broadcast it and insult more than half the population, including yours truly, channeling  Betty Friedan at her crankiest? 


  1. “no laws, just guidelines, based on courtesy and fairness.” How wonderful. For some reason this reminds me of a Kurt Vonnegut quote a friend sent me yesterday: “I tell you, we are here on earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.”

  2. I love the Divas. I wish we had a gardening club even remotely like theirs here….

    I remember reading that Human Flower Project opening and thinking something along the lines of “Is she kidding??”

  3. I’m not one of the Divas of the Dirt, but I am full of admiration for their group and its accomplishments, not to mention their sense of fun. I got to see one of their projects firsthand over the weekend at Annie in Austin’s house: a new flowerbed planted with pink plants (three cheers for much-maligned pink!).

    Annie had invited the Austin garden-blogging gals to her place for our second get-together, and I enjoyed touring her lovely garden and meeting Julie from the Human Flower Project and Susan from South of the River. I love that several of my favorite bloggers live right here in Austin. –Pam/Digging

  4. This is AnnieInAustin/Glinda the Diva/Kathy checking in-

    We had Sake and four desserts on Sunday – no wonder Pam liked my garden.

    Just a couple of notes here – the Zanthan Gardens writer is M.Sinclair Stevens, not firefly [firefly gardens near the Atlantic coast].
    At Julie’s Human Flower Project the very interesting article was written by her – it’s got quite a different focus from the original article by another Julie, Julie Bonnin. The original article is called “Digging, Dishing and Derring-Do”

    As to my ‘deliciously bad’ song – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Fifteen-year olds playing guitars in their rooms aren’t the only people with access to YouTube. The theme song for the Transplantable Rose is in progress.

    Of course, in the time-honored tradition of showbiz, your remarks will be clipped & quoted:

    Susan Harris of GardenRant says,
    “…Divas..have a theme song…delicious!!”

  5. “Now veering briefly off-topic, the ’60s feminist in me has a complaint.”

    Jude Law Can Divide My Perennials Anytime

    Huh? I bet Betty is the squeamish one.

    Question: Why is it necessary to bring something down to build something up? Sure the Federation of Garden Clubs are a dinosaur from the past, more Junior League than gardeners. But I suspect that from an historical view they are in some sense the progenitors of the Divas. In fact the obvious lower status their husbands might be an early indication of the oncoming feminist movement. I think Betty would have chuckled at that.

  6. While I am utterly flattered to be considered a Diva of the Dirt, Annie in Austin is quite right — Zanthan Gardens is M.Sinclair Stevens, not me.

    I live in Maine, so it’d be a bit of travel for me to help out with other Divas’ gardens.

    However, I’m looking forward to practically living at Austin gardening blogs after the first snowfall here, so roll up your sleeves, ladies, and keep on posting!

  7. You Austin gardeners totally rock. I’ll be there in July (yes, I know it’ll be boiling hot–I’m a UT grad and native Texan) but I hope we can all get together, maybe drink a few Margaritas…check out a garden or two…

  8. I am so looking forward to hearing the theme song for the Transplantable Rose. If a song is successful because it stays in your head after you’ve heard it, then The Divas of the Dirt theme song is quite successful.

    Gotta go figure out how to start a group in Indianapolis!

  9. Amy. The Austin garden bloggers would love to meet you. Three of us live just south of the river in 78704. Pam at Digging and R of The Great Experiment live along the MoPac. And our Garden Diva (who we know as Annie in Austin) lives in the northwest.

    M @ Zanthan Gardens

  10. Amy, consider it a date. If you know which days in July you’ll be in Austin, please let me know via email so I can get it on the calendar. I have travel plans for part of that month too, so I hope I don’t miss your visit. I’d love to join you for margaritas and give you a tour of my (probably crispy by then) garden. –Pam/Digging

  11. Sorry about getting everybody mixed up – and then being Internet-less all day.
    Now I want to fly down to Austin next July, which would be insane, but not the first time I’ve done it. (Spent two weeks there in ’93 trying to decide whether to move there.)

  12. Why not? Let’s all go to Austin. Could make a good article…hmmmm….

    My dates aren’t set yet–I’ll check in with the Austin gang when I know more. Or y’all tell me when not to come.

  13. Dear Susan & Co.,

    Good unisex get-together of bloggers at Annie’s over the weekend, with enough sugar to send a whole Brownie troop into diabetic coma. Delicious!

    Thanks for your interest in what’s happening over at the Human Flower Project. T’is a gift to be rantable.


  14. Amy…you’ve lived in Austin so you know that July is brutal in the garden. I think the best times to visit is late-March to Memorial Day and mid-October to mid-November. Hey, maybe you can get on a panel at SXSW Interactive–after all, garden blogging really hit it big this year.

    Weatherwise, today was perfect–sunny and in the 70s. I remember many a Thanksgiving drive up to Dallas to visit the inlaws that took place in the first bad storm of winter. The last few years winter storms haven’t come until late December.

    M @ Zanthan Gardens

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