What’s Less Hassle than Starting a Garden Club?

Gardens in Old Greenbelt

The obvious answer is that NOT starting a garden club is less hassle than starting one, but my local gardening friends and I want to do SOMETHING. And we’ll only do it if we can avoid having officers, charging dues, hiring speakers and renting space for events. Done that, thanks!

I made a clean break from garden clubs when I moved to a town with NO garden club, but there’s one in the next town over that has meetings with speakers, dues, officers and holiday parties. I’m happy to drive even farther for a speaker I want to hear, and do it frequently.

But what we don’t have in my town are garden tours, or groups of gardeners working to beautify the town or help neighbors learn to garden. For a time we considered becoming a gardening committee within the bureaucracy of our co-op but that bureaucracy quickly proved to be TOO MUCH for people who just want to help people garden and not have to put up with crap to do it.

So we’re going rogue, baby! And informal, super-informal. No dues, officers or regular meetings. We even brag about that on our web page (still in draft):

The Old Greenbelt Gardening Boosters are an informal collection of gardeners who just want to help other people in Old Greenbelt learn to garden. (No dues, no officers, etc.)

We’re meeting soon to brainstorm these ideas for projects in 2020 – none of which will happen unless someone volunteers to take responsibility for them. (Not MY job to make them happen!)

  • Self-guided tours or “garden walks”.
  • Free garden consultations for lucky winners of drawings.
  • Free pruning demonstrations.
  • Plan improvements to common areas owned by the co-op.
  • Help newcomers identify the plants in their new yards.
  • Provide text and images online that answer common questions our neighbors are asking.
  • Advocate for gardening and gardeners in Old Greenbelt.
  • Promote fun and educational events of nearby garden clubs and public gardens, maybe arranging carpools to them. (Creating socializing opportunities without putting on events ourselves.)

Thanks to New Media

All this is made possible by the availability of free communication, of course. (Thus,  no dues.) We’ll be using a combination of email, Facebook and the local blog I edit.

Other Ideas?

Readers, if you’ve been part of any local gardening group, official club or otherwise, what projects do you recommend for helping teach and energize local gardeners-to-be?

Photos of Our Work

Our group may not be official but already in 2019 we got to work, unofficially of course.

We organized a Garden Walk in early September that rated these three photos in the local paper!

Above, one of our free garden consultations.

Left, we brainstormed about landscape improvements at our co-op offices. On the right, we showed neighbors how to prune overgrown shrubs in a common area.


  1. Hi great ideas! Here in our residential community in Chapel Hill, (where there was once a super-organized garden group with programs and dues and fundraisers et al), a neighbor who moved in a few years back started a “Garden Sharing Group” that is going well. No agenda, no officers, no programming – just getting together at someone’s house for coffee and talk about plants. Attendees can ask a question, get help with a problem, share a book,or article, bring cutting of a plant, suggest nurseries or landscapers to use (or avoid) or just come for coffee and listen. We meet Feb-Jun and Sept-Oct. Its a great group!

  2. The garden areas in the photos are so beautiful, doesn’t look like improvements are needed, but in my more rural area, it would be fun to rotate as a group to different people’s houses for clean-up, planting, or whatever the garden needs at the time. Keeps the group moving while socializing.

  3. we just have a FB group that everyone posts pics to regularly. We do a bunch of plant swaps and garden tours. The tours aren’t the let’s go see 6 different gardens on the same day sort of tours. They are more informal a dozen people stop by one person’s garden on a Sat type event. Sometimes with food sometimes not. The plant swaps are great for pulling new people in.

  4. What a great idea. Wish I lived close by. Some friends and I started an informal study group over the winter. We meet when we can and talk about plants new or old favourites. Very informal with no rules. Love going rogue.

  5. Super idea. You could offer special educational options at each of a number of stops on a tour, i.e. seed starting, propagation, composting etc. and limit the size of each visiting group in consideration of space, parking etc.

  6. Tree knowledge is often overlooked with new gardeners; understanding tree health, how they host both beneficial and pest wildlife and what options there are for pruning or the removal of a damaged tree. Hopefully this helps in a gardening club discussion.

  7. Three ideas I can pass along from my community with lots of passionate gardeners outside of NW Philadelphia:
    1) Create an open spreadsheet for members to sign up to host a casual potluck, perhaps Friday eves, to show their garden and bond with some wine and shared food.
    2) One of those programs that can help build garden community is to teach about dividing perennials, and potting them up properly for a sale or swap.
    3) Find a generous garden donor, perhaps someone in need of some help, to offer volunteers a place to harvest perennials and self-sown seedlings for a fund raising plant sale. Digging and dividing can be of great help to an overwhelmed or infirmed gardener, and simultaneously a learning opportunity for novices. The whole thing however needs some organization by some folks with fair knowledge and a willingness to supervise and direct.

  8. There’s an informal garden club in my neighborhood that meets once a month at someone’s house for a potluck, wine, and gossip. There’s always a small stroll in the host’s garden. Most of the gossip is NOT about gardening, hilariously, but one can always change the subject to something more on-topic! Twice a year there are plant swaps too.


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