Start a garden club

Starting a Garden Club

Article: How to Start a Garden Club

January 28, 2006

One of the most rewarding aspects of gardening is being able to share your experiences with others. If you’re interested in meeting others in your area with a passion for plants, consider joining a garden club, or better yet, starting one of your own.

Four Steps to Getting Started

Step #1: Find Members

This is easier than you might think. Because you’re a gardener, you already know where your fellow gardeners are likely to hang out-nurseries, garden centers, botanical gardens, libraries and book stores (the garden section, of course), parks, and coffee shops. Many of these places will be happy to let you post flyers and information on how to join for free. Don’t forget organic restaurants, food co-ops, and environmental stores, feed centers, community gardens, and community centers. If you live in a community that publishes weekly shoppers or alternative newspapers, consider taking out a small classified ad to solicit members.


Step #2: Set Up a Place & Time to Meet

Try and be as flexible as possible when setting up a time for your new club to meet. You can set the date and time for the first meeting, but after that, it’s up to the club to determine what day and time works best. People are busy, so try to keep the group flexible and alternate meeting dates and times if necessary.

Free meeting rooms are usually available at libraries or community centers with advance reservations. Local nurseries might be willing to donate space in exchange for free advertising to club members. You may even approach them about offering discounts to members.

If you or someone in your group turns out to be computer savvy, consider setting up a simple website or blog to make communicating between meetings easier. This is also a great place to post announcements, photos, event reminders and can help your club attract new members. At the very least, be sure to that everyone is given member contact information.


Step #3: Define Club Goals Your club will need to decide if it wants to consist of formal format or a more casual format. Formal clubs usually charge dues, elect officers, draw up by-laws and may affiliate themselves with larger, established groups like the National Garden Club or the Federated Garden Club of America. These affiliations bring benefits like invitations to conferences and specially arranged tours and access to well-known speakers and mentors.

Maybe you just want to get together with other gardeners in your neighborhood to exchange seeds or plants. Clubs don’t have to have a rigid format to be successful. Maybe you want to help educate the community about specific gardening practices (organic) or participate in charitable work (beautifying a community park). Whatever your club defines as goals, remember to have fun!


Step #4: Network with Local Resources

After your club forms, make sure you introduce yourself to the community. Network with local resources like country extension agencies, colleges and universities and local nurseries and garden centers. Let others know what your club is all about and who can be contacted to answer questions or respond to inquiries. Find out what resources may be of benefit to the members of your club, and what your club can offer to others in the community.

Joining An Existing Club

If joining an existing club sounds more appealing than starting one from scratch, try doing a quick web search for gardening clubs on the web. Garden forums and chat rooms are also good ways to find gardeners from your area-at least from your same zone. Nurseries, garden centers and extension agencies are usually also tuned in to what is going on in your area.


Whether starting your own club, or joining one that is already established, you’ll enjoy the encouragement you receive from others, learn better ways to beautify your environment and get acquainted with like-minded folks in your community.

Tips to Start a Gardening Club

Avid gardeners can share their passion with others by starting a garden club, which can provide a great opportunity for sharing information and resources. They can swap plants and seeds, help each other with labor-intensive garden projects, and tour area gardens and nurseries. And don’t forget about those group discounts.

In addition to sharing resources among club members, garden clubs can participate in community projects such as beautifying parks, roadsides, schools, nursing homes, and any other place that needs a pretty flower garden.

The 5 Seasons Garden Club in Marshall County, Ky., maintains annual and perennial beds at the county park. “We get the members to participate by dividing into groups, each caring for the beds for one month at a time,” says Gary Brown, club president.

Service projects are big draws for garden clubs. “Our club maintains the public library grounds, plants flowers in areas around town, works with seniors and mentally challenged individuals,” says Nancy Segall, treasurer for the Poplar Bluff (pop.16,651) Garden Club in Missouri. The club also has helped with planting about 2,000 crepe myrtles, making Poplar Bluff the “Crepe Myrtle Capital of Missouri.”

Consider affiliating your club with a national, state or regional garden club, which can provide stability, support and advice. “Many national organizations are a nonprofit under 501(c)3 of the IRS code. This status can be extended to the affiliate club, usually with nominal paperwork,” says John Hunt, former president of the First Men’s Garden Club of Dallas, which is affiliated with The Men’s Garden Clubs of America and The Gardeners of America.

“Publicity is the key to starting a club and getting it up and running with a very strong membership growth the first year or two. If that is not accomplished, the club could stagnate or even fail,” says Hunt, whose club attracts new members by hosting seminars and plant shows.

Other considerations, he says, include choosing a good meeting place and determining the organization’s focus. Whatever your club’s main interest may be, it’s important to stay on track. A resource such as Robert’s Rules of Order can provide the information needed to establish officers and follow proper meeting procedures.

“Keep a good age mix in your club and try to attract people who like to work together,” says Segall, whose group currently has 13 members but is always looking for new ones. “The biggest reward is feeling that you are doing something for the community. It’s also a nice way to meet your community.”

Whether your club is a small group of friends or a large community service organization, a garden club is a great way to learn more about your hobby, educate others and socialize. When members come together with a common goal, there is no end to what your club can accomplish.

Found in: Gardening, Home & Family, Outdoors

Start your own garden club at work!

It’s easy. Just find other people that share your interest in gardening and invite them into your club. Create a group on Facebook where you can share your interests and ideas. Trade plants, trade seeds, share landscaping ideas, seed growing tips, cutting growing tips.

Bring your group to Mike’s Plant Farm here in Perry for a “behind the scenes” tour. We’ll show you everything, how we propagate our plants, our potting system, how we control weeds in our plants and in our gardens around the nursery.

Learning about plant propagation at Mike’s Plant Farm.

We have no secrets here at Mike’s Plant Farm! I’ll even tell you how much each of the girls weigh. Just kidding, just kidding! I have no idea how much they weigh but if they see this I’ll probably find out.

When you set up your garden club don’t use the name of the company that you work for. That’s probably not a cool thing to do. If you promote it at work let your boss know up front what you are doing just to make sure that’s not a problem.

A group of plant lovers touring Mike’s Plant Farm.

Recommended: Free eBook Reveals 21 Plants That Are Easy to Grow and Sell Like Crazy

Tell ya what. If you give your club members membership cards you can negotiate discount for club members at local businesses that are gardening related. Then you can leverage that and shame other vendors into doing the same. How about that?

Anyway, start forming your garden club today.

I’ll help you with interesting and timely articles and “how to” information that you can share with your members. In just a few days I’m going to write an Article about Growing Perennials from Seed that you can share with your members if you like.

Summer Flowering Yarrow, a hardy perennial.

Be sure to join our Email list at the top right corner of this page. We regularly send out really good and timely garden related information that you can share with club members.

Just let me know what you need and I’m here to help.

-Mike McGroarty, Mike’s Plant Farm, Perry, Ohio

Ideas To Revitalize a Garden Club

I have belonged to a garden club for 2 years now. It’s kinda a dying group and I have been elected to become president in September. I would love any and all ideas on things to do to make this club more fun, like crafts, trips, speakers, anything! Please help.


Tracy from MI


Contests and More Ideas

A contest, like grow the biggest pumpkin, squash, etc. The winner can be timed to enter the local county fair’s produce section. Your county probably has a Dept. of Agriculture, they can make presentations.

Have meetings in the library and invite newcomers. Sometimes a club fades because the founder was the life line and once the founder leaves, it falls apart. If so, it’s not your fault.

By Holly

Ideas for Your Club

  • You could initiate a public service project and invite students from the local voc-tech program at the high school.
  • You could clean up and decorate an old cemetery.
  • Put a garden around your town’s welcome sign.
  • Start a seedling campaign to have members trade/share/sell clippings from their favorite plants. Advertisement
  • Open a contest to local residents: most unusual planter, ugliest plant, etc. and provide entrants with invitations to your club.
  • If there is a local fair in your area (remember the days when every town had one?), sign up for a display tent.
  • Ask residents who aren’t members, but have fantastic gardens to allow your group to tour.
  • Have “best (fill in the season) garden” contests and provide the winner with a nice plaque or stake to put in their yard, and have your club be the judges.
  • Ask local homes for senior citizens if you could do a short presentation. Many retired persons have/had an interest in gardening and may either join or provide interesting stories, tips, etc.

By mary

Plant Exchange

My first thought was to have a plant and bulb exchange. Since you are starting your reign in September, it’s an ideal time to trade perennials, perennial seeds, and spring bulbs for fall planting. If your funds permit or you have a free newspaper, you could invite the public to come and bring some of their favorites to trade. This way you may be able to increase your membership, as well.

By jean hugus

Engage Your Community

The thing that revitalized ours was a project that involved the young horticulture students at the high school, so that a sense of purpose and trans-generation developed among us oldies.

Also, that momentum was rolled along further when we linked up for charity with other clubs. It was very fun when we got on a chartered bus (not that expensive after all!) and went to a tour of winning gardens in a nearby city. All the way home, one by one, we each shared one idea gained that we found useful for our own homes.

If there is a feud among your members, be sure to deal with it swiftly and publicly so that both members know that you are prepared to swat them both quickly. All I had to do was to loudly say “If you two don’t take your personal stuff outside this meeting, I will knock your heads together right now.” Seemed like a great sigh of relief went up and smiles returned! God bless your good-hearted efforts!

By Kim Churchman

Monthly Program Ideas
(selected from Program Books)

Compiled by Bonnie Carrell
Programs, Speakers and Yearbook Chairman

“Please check your library, your extension agent, members of your club and surrounding clubs, and the internet for info on any of these subjects. There’s lots to be had, put together, and shared. Club members can do a look-up for info on a subject and do a presentation as well as anyone else. Just ask.”

Contact local garden center for – 2009 new releases
How to put together nice hanging baskets
Painted rocks or pavers to sell at the plant sale or garden tour
Our native plants
Start saving blooms in spring in a large container (whole club activity) for potpourri to share in Oct. and Nov. and to sell at plant sale or garden tour
Basic flower designs
Tour the Medicinal Plant Demo Garden in Indianapolis
Table size water fountains – how to make
Hosta gardening – miniature – medium – gigantic!
Holiday wreath making – bring scissors, materials, etc.
Unusual and underused garden plants – Chris Wilhoite – Soule’s gardens – Greenwood, In.
Honeybees – garden friends – contact local Bee society
Maple syrup time
Bird migration
Putting your garden flowers to rest
Mysteries of the soil – – all you need to know about soil and the effects different varieties have on plants – extension officer
Container gardening – winter displays
Lasagna gardening – no-til, no-dig gardening
Attracting hummingbirds
Making it easy – things you can do to make gardening easier, mulching, potting, and much more
‘not all insects are bad’ Todd Hutson – Purdue Univ., Porter Co. Agent
Monarch Larva Monitoring project –
trainers Ann & Robert Richardson
Dried flower art on soap
What’s new in recycling?
History of Sunflowers – Joyce Bulington – Grant County
Biblical flowers
Companion planting
Moon planting – by the light of a silvery moon
Lilies & hostas – Cynthia Miller Wilhoite – Soules Nursery – Greenwood, In.
Hyper-tufa planters
Leaf casting
Pot party – local nursery will often let your group in after hours to have a container planting party. They will often supply the soil and 10 – 20% off the price of the plants you buy. You can also buy the containers there or bring your own. You get the expertise of the employees on what goes well together. Nursery will also sometimes supply refreshments. Lasts about 2 hours.
Fall arrangements with pumpkins and gourds
Feeding your winter friends – best types of food for no waste, food recipes
Who knew, plants at the Zoo. Person from the zoo tells about the plants used in each display and how they’re good for the animals and why they don’t plant certain ones because of the animals.
Old Native Indian gardening
A journey through time and nature – extension office
Hydrangea mania – Everything you ever wanted to know about hydrangeas
nightscaping – garden rooms – lighting – playing cards – entertaining
Shrubs beyond yew
Victorian parlor plants
Heirloom plants and seeds
Wildflower walks
Seed starting – different styles – hydroponics – under lights – under plastic etc.
Lawn treatments – when and how – from feeding to mowing height at different times of the year to dethatching to plugging
Ticket sale to the public for 4 hours of clean-up work for your garden provided by garden club members. No heavy stuff!
Creating a wildlife vacationland – wildlife federation
How to garden when you are handicapped – tools and techniques
Rain gardening and creating a rain barrel
Aquatic gardening
Carnivorous gardening – contact carnivorous plant society
Bonsai – expanding the plant lover’s horizon – contact local bonsai society
Topiary gardening – contact topiary society
Easiest way to start a new garden – newspapers
Square foot gardening
Dwarf orchards – how many trees do you want?
Terrestrial Invasives – problematics and management – extension office
Wholesale! – set up with company beforehand – whole club go at same time and buy plants at wholesale or near wholesale prices
Thorns and jell – cacti and other succulents
Ornamental & garden pest management
Great gardens of the world – their history, design, traditional plantings, for example – India, Thailand, Japan, China, Austria, The Netherlands to name a few.
Heirloom vegetables
The tomato – old and new
From garden to vase – cutting gardens – harvesting & condition – perennials, shrubs, annuals, foliage
Rock gardens – what, where, how – rock garden society
National Agricultural Library – what’s there?
Intimacy in your garden!! Intimate spaces, texture, color, & the right plant for the right space
Nutrient management – managing applications for strong growth, while minimizing escaping run-offs. Extension agent
Get your taste buds activated!! You mean I’m supposed to eat that?? Cooking with herbs.
Impact gardening – small space gardening
Host a chili cook-off and craft fair
What’s buzzing in your garden? Different bees, their benefits, & why they love your garden – promoting pollinators. Extension agent or bee society
Doing battle with gypsy moths – extension agent
Wings of fancy – butterfly types & their host plants
That darn squirrel ate all my tulip bulbs again! Using plastic cups, yogurt tubs etc.
Viburnums and their use in your landscape
Woody ornamentals – extension agent
Conifer gardens – green – green – and more green
Out of the heat and into the cool – shade gardening
Moss gardening
Zinnia or sunflower contest or flower show
Your heady garden – fragrance
Pie contest and sale
Garden structures – accessorizing your garden
Wow! No weeds! – miniature gardens

Garden Club Program Ideas

flowers image by pearlguy from <a href=’’></a>

Whether you enjoy digging and planting or just creating arrangements from cut flowers, the delicate petals and fragrant aromas of flowers may bring beauty to your day. When you&rsquo;re brainstorming ideas for your next garden club program or event, consider flower power as your inspiration. No matter if your garden club meets once per week or only a few times a year, you can come up with fresh, blooming ideas for members of the club to enjoy.

State Pride

Let the focus of your next event be on your state&rsquo;s officially designated flower. Many options are available when you make your state&rsquo;s flower the centerpiece. Residents of an Ohio garden club, for example, have the scarlet carnation as their state flower. If scarlet carnations aren&rsquo;t available, a few drops of red food coloring may be mixed with water and sprayed onto the flowers with a mister. After they dry, the garden club can offer these state-specific flowers at its next sale. Another idea is to feature the flower in other ways. Vermont, for example, lists the red clover as its state flower. Crafty and creative members of your club can produce handmade items for your next sale, such as hand-knit clovers, watercolor red clovers and even stationery and hand-lettered envelopes with red clovers.

Eco Conscious

The next time your garden club is called upon to make a presentation or conduct a program, consider providing information on how residents can not only keep their gardens green with plants, but environmentally-friendly green as well. Offer information about composting (suggest that members of the club who live close to each other go in on a composter together), stress the importance of not plucking wild flowers or plants, and demonstrate and discuss the different &ldquo;green&rdquo; chemicals available. Members of the club can weigh in on the different products they use in their gardens, such as bug sprays, sod, plant food and peat moss, explaining how each affects the environment.

Road Trip

Gardens around the country may serve as inspiration for your members&rsquo; own gardens when you take a road trip to visit other flowering areas. Whether you drive just a couple of minutes to a garden in your town or offer a road trip package to your club to view renowned gardens states away, your next garden club program will have you learning the history and culture of flowers, as well as admiring them. Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania, for example, offers 1,500 acres of plants and flowers, with 20 indoor and outdoor gardens each, plus fountains, a conservatory, outdoor concerts and special events such as a touch and taste of lavender celebration.

Year-Round Garden Club

8 Things I Didn’t Know:

What a Historic Garden Club in Durham Can Teach Us About Life,

History, and Addressing Climate Change

By: James Robinson, Caroline Kealoha, Rachel Radvany, and Surafel Adere

If you visited Durham 90 years ago, you would encounter a city that bears little resemblance to what stands today. Pauli Murray had just moved to New York City in order to prepare for college. Duke University was still called Trinity College. And the News and Observer was owned by Joseph Daniels and James Carr, who used it to promote an agenda of White Supremacy. The Durham skyline now includes shiny glass facades, and Smith Warehouse houses classrooms instead of Tobacco, one small part of Durham never did change. In living rooms, kitchens, and gardens, the Year Round Garden Club has been gathering, cooking, praying, and planting.

Current members of the Year Round Garden Club, which has been continuously operating for almost a century.

This semester, we had the pleasure of speaking to the members of the Year Round Garden Club. Joe Wilson, born in Washington D.C., is the President of the YRGC, and Paul Lyons, who grew up in Butner, is the Vice President. Jackie Jones, the treasurer, is a native Durhamite, Doretha Richardson is the secretary, and Cynthia Davis also grew up in Durham. They shared with us their history, knowledge, wisdom, and a most delicious 7 Up Pound cake, baked by Jackie. Throughout our conversations with the members, we would repeatedly hear different iterations of the question, “Do you know what an is?” These objects, ideas, and stories provide a peek into a history that was defined by injustice, social change, and, now, gentrification. It’s a history that is too often overlooked, and yet, a history through which the Year Round Garden Club persisted. We decided to highlight eight of these ideas below.

  1. We had no idea what a ‘45 is. Even Surafel, an avid music enthusiast, had never heard of it. Jackie taught us that a ‘45 is a type of record. It earned its name from the number of rotations it makes every minute. She showed us her husband’s record collection, an extensive compilation that spans the entire wall and is two shelves deep. We attributed this to the generation gap and our lack of knowledge of old music platforms. 45s were really only used until the early 2000s, before any of us were buying music. By the time we were becoming music lovers, 45s were replaced by CDs and later digital forms of music.
  1. We didn’t know what snow ice cream is. James is from Maine, where it is not unheard of for the first snow to fall before Halloween. But even he had never heard of snow ice cream. Joe recalls brushing snow into a bowl, adding sugars and molasses, before slurping down his natural delicacy. Snow Ice Cream is a celebratory welcoming of the white fluff that rarely falls from the sky. Although even Joe admits, that today, it is not recommended to make snow ice cream out of the first snowfall of the year because of toxins now present in the snow.
  1. We didn’t know how to find persimmons, Locus, or Scuppernong grapes. Most of us hadn’t even heard of these plants. However, the members of the club reflected on their vast experience with them, remembering their adventures in the woods when they would pick Locus off the bushes and lick the jelly-like insides, sharing in the sweetness. These woods are no longer as prevalent in Durham, due to construction and a developing city. The lack of these experiences could be

    Members of the Elkerson family have lived in this house since 1950. As Durham gentrifies, Ms. Barbara may be the Elkerson to be able to afford to live in this house.

    part of the reason that younger members of Durham’s community are not as interested in gardening. Many of the members found their love for gardening and joined the club because their parents were avid gardeners, so they grew up surrounded by plants. Growing up playing in the woods and having that exposure to nature leads to a certain feeling of connection, that one can continue through gardening. With the increasing development of Durham, people don’t have that connection and it is harder to appeal to the younger generation’s spirit to bring them closer to nature.

  1. We didn’t know what it meant to sweep the yard. This was another form of entertainment that us Northerners had never heard of. Joe remembered his mother sweeping their yard, and he recalled making patterns in the dirt with homemade brooms. Cynthia remembered very clearly, “No I didn’t. My mother did. But I did not.” She made brooms for others, as did Doretha’s mother, but neither of the members partook in this pastime.

This tradition accompanied many slaves from Africa to the United States as a way to keep the outside clean from meals, snakes, weeds, and more. Lawns weren’t popular until the mid-to-late 1800s and even then, the upkeep of a lawn required wealth. By caring for the outside land by sweeping the yards, the black southerners were able to symbolize their appreciation for the outside.

  1. We didn’t know that you could eat soil. The perfectly manicured landscape on Duke’s campus mascarades a thick layer of red clay that hides underneath. It wasn’t until the YRGC asked if we knew about the soil that it became evident that there is more to it than just dirt. Joe informed us that you can eat the clay just like you eat a piece of candy, and it’s good for digestion. Doretha also told us that after a fresh rain, when the smell of the soil is intoxicating, she sometimes tastes a sample. “It gives a scent that’s tasty,” she reflected. “You feel like the top of the earth is clean, so you might taste the dirt. Always after a rain.”

Heavy clay soils typical of the Southern Piedmont.

The soil wasn’t always like this, though. As Saskia Cornes at the Duke Campus Farm taught us, the growth of tobacco and other cash crops was rough on the soil and the need for constant profit did not allow plots time to recover. Slaves were forced to work the cash crop fields that comprise much of the land that is now Durham. Sarah Childs, director of the Duke Forest, told us how there’s an entire layer of the soil missing due to this degradation. It became evident throughout this semester that the physical scars of the land left behind in terms of soil quality are only able to heal through conscious practice of those like the year-round gardeners. Their come from a community that was forced against their will to purport this damage, and now they are the hands that are blessed to heal it. It’s evident, too, that they’ve done such a good job that it’s nutritious enough to eat.

  1. We didn’t know what it meant to live on the other side of the tracks. But Jackie did. Her aunt and uncle lived along the train tracks. She remembers, “on one side was my family, there were blacks and on the other side were white.” The children would get along, shooting BB guns back and forth (in a friendly way), “We didn’t do anything to hurt each other… we thought it was fun.”

Southern soils are challenging, and club member Jackie Jones’ solution is both creative and reflects her connections with friends and family.

Durham is a city that was divided. There were white businesses and black businesses. White schools and black schools. When the members of the Year Round Garden Club went to school, these divisions were traversed by bus. “I don’t care what part of town you live in, Eastern and Western, Walltown, Hicktown, Hayti and wherever you live. You got to go you get a bus we paid for buses. We did not get free buses. We can get little yellow buses. We used city bus and bought bus tickets, you had to pay for bus tickets, miss that bus at 4 o’clock and see don’t you have to pay to go to get a regular bus and going to get a transfer and pay a nickel for the transfer to get on this side of town.” After the freedom of choice decision, Cynthia was a part of eight black students who enrolled in Brockton Junior High School. But she would only stay for a year, and later attended Hillside High School.

These two sides of Durham would also have different fates. The construction of highway 147 and subsequent destruction of the Hayti neighborhood divided Durham and broke up a prosperous black neighborhood in a city where Civil Rights legislation had yet to take hold. In the name of urban renewal, the highway became a divisive factor as it was the symbolic entrance into the city of Durham.

  1. We didn’t know about the sign at Southpoint Mall that read “Durham, 9 miles.” The problem with this sign? It was located in Durham. In one of our interviews, Jackie told us that when the Southpoint mall was first built, a sign near it said 9 miles to Durham. We wouldn’t have thought anything of it until it we heard that Southpoint is actually in Durham and that the sign was placed there to pacify fears of customers who thought they might be too close to the “dangerous” city of Durham.

Durham’s location also played important in the role of the rising Research Triangle Park. RTP as many know it today, was created in the late 1950s to combine the three major research universities of the area and develop a space in which graduates of these universities desired to live in once they graduated. This park, which is quite literally like a playground park in that the property is owned by an entity while still lying within a city’s limits, is in Durham County. However, as the YRGC members told us, it is no mistake that Durham is not mentioned in as the location of RTP.

Durham’s historically African-American neighborhoods are closer to incinerators and factories, and further from green space and parks.

Durham was known as a dangerous city and whether or not that was rhetoric fueled by racism or actual crime statistics remains a debated topic. The YRGC members who were born in the infancy of RTP and construction of 147 noted that Durham gets left out of the conversation of the other two predominantly white cities that make up the other two points of the triangle. Eventually the sign was taken down but the sentiment that safety and protection from Durham comes from staying away from Durham is harmful logic that still affects the city today and how the residents today find themselves at a crossroads of racial division within a physical landscape.

  1. We didn’t know you could talk to plants. Talking to your plants, as we’ve come to learn, isn’t such a crazy thing to do. For Paul Lyon, talking to plants is a spiritual exercise that gives him peace of mind and helps alleviate built up tension. In speaking of his connection to his plants, Paul notes, “If you have 24 hours in a day, your first hours would be thanking the good Lord above for allowing you to be on this Earth.” By talking to his plants, Paul expresses his gratitude. “You don’t have to be crazy now but… they’re living. And a lot of plants can help you to live because they absorb certain particles in the air and give off oxygen and purify it.”

It is with this sense of gratitude in mind that Paul and the members of the Year Round Garden Club utilize the garden as a means to practice spiritual devotion. Growing and nurturing these plants requires practicing patience, knowledge, and devotion. It’s a sentiment reflected in the prayer that is recited at each meeting.

God bless all words of kindness,

The club has a long tradition of prayer and song to accompany meetings and garden work.

That lift the heart of gloom;

And in life’s barren places,

Plant flowers of love to bloom.

Fill our hearts with goodness,

Be thou mindful of each little care;

Take away all sin and evil,

Let flowers of love blossom there.


Thus, it makes sense to talk to one’s plants, as nurturing a garden is a two way street. For the plants, growth is physical, while for the gardener, growth is spiritual.


At the beginning of this semester, if you asked us what a ’45 record, snow ice cream, a persimmon, and a sign by the Southpoint Mall had in common with eating clay, sweeping the yard, living on the other side of the tracks, and talking to plants, we wouldn’t have known where to even begin guessing. But in the face of a gentrifying Durham, and rapidly warming climate, the lessons of the Year Round Garden Club are universally relevant.

The Club is also a reminder of the importance of acknowledging and understanding a community’s history before engaging with them. One of the things that struck us as special about the Year Round Garden Club was that their rich, shared history has fostered a true sense of community. Throughout our meetings, the members told us about how the club has held on to the same prayers, songs, poems, and pledge as well as events, activities and traditions for the more-than 100 years they’ve been in existence.

Even in areas without green space, members organize planting projects, including with herbs, to bring nature inside and to young gardeners.

The club is a reminder of the role that spirituality can play in fostering a deep rooted connection to the natural world. It has helped build an spirit of camaraderie within the club and a feeling of shared responsibility for the wellbeing of one another and the earth below.

The club is also a reminder of the role that building community can play in resisting injustice. Many of the members knew each other since they were adolescents in high school. YRGC has sponsored a senior prom, where the members take a date and reminisce on their younger days and dance the night away, every year since the first one in 1968. And it is more than just a club–it’s a family. And each Christmas, members gather around the same table and share Christmas dinner.

As Durham continues to become gentrified and our climate continues to warm, we look to the model of the Year Round Garden Club; a family-based, community-centered club of faithful gardeners working together to grow and beautify their communities. They are an inspiring example of the potential for the garden to resist the negative impacts of global change on the personal scale.

“Biography | Pauli Murray Project.”

“Our History | Trinity College of Arts & Sciences.”

“Company History.”

Williams et al., Group Interview with Year-Round Garden Club.

“Record Formats.”

Williams et al., Group Interview with Year-Round Garden Club.

“Southern Traditions: Why Did My Grandmas Sweep Their Yards? | Hometalk.”

Williams et al., Group Interview with Year-Round Garden Club.

Cornes, Class Visit to the Duke Campus Farm.

“Soil Exhaustion in the Tobacco South – Environmental History.”

Childs, Class Visit to the Duke Forest.

Williams et al., Group Interview with Year-Round Garden Club.

“Birth of an Idea.”

Lyons, Interview with Paul Lyons.

“YRGC Photo Log.”

How to start a Garden Club for Seniors

For seniors living in nursing homes, the benefits of garden related activities are abounding. Many nursing homes now provide specially designed ‘memory gardens’ and ‘wander gardens’ for residents living with dementia.

Recreation staff can provide outdoor or indoor garden activities in a supporting and caring atmosphere via an engaging Garden Club program.

Benefits of Gardening Activities in Nursing Homes

  • Positive social entertainment
  • Reminiscing opportunities
  • Enhanced well-being
  • Improved dexterity
  • Reduced symptoms of depression.
  • Educational opportunities
  • Relaxation and satisfaction

How to Start a Garden Club for Seniors:

You will need:

  • An outdoor area (cemented or tiled for easy cleaning), free of sound distractions such as noisy TV’s and people talking.
  • A couple of large tables covered with plastic or old newspapers.
  • Some tools, seedlings, plant cuttings, potting mixture, plastic pots, a bag of sand, and a water hose close by.
  • A group of enthusiastic residents.


  • Inform management of your intentions and ask for support; financial and otherwise.
  • Line up a volunteer or two to assist you.
  • Plan at least three sessions in advance. Be aware that your plan is dependent on the weather. Prepare to change activities if the session is to be conducted indoors.
  • Buy gardening tools suitable to your clients such as long handled hand-rakes, lightweight shovels, safety secateurs (pruners), garden gloves, and trowels.
  • Advise residents of your plans via the scheduled ‘Residents Meeting’ for expressions of interest. Recruit six to eight people to start with.
  • The group should meet once a month or once a fortnight.
  • Raised garden beds are highly recommended if possible.

Ideas for Garden Club Activities:

In the absence of a Horticultural Therapist, request advice from your local community garden club, they have the expertise and panache you need and in my experience they are always willing to help.

Good weather Garden Activities:

Use an outdoor area to enjoy fresh air and the sights and sounds of nature.

Outdoor activities to enjoy include:

  • Planting seedlings of cherry tomatoes in pots
    Related: Horticultural Therapy Activities
  • Propagation by cuttings
    Related: Outdoor Gardening Activities
  • Planting herbs in raised beds or in pots
  • Planting flowers, whatever is in season, e.g. :
    • Calendula and Chrysanthemum – Northern Hemisphere
    • Lilies, and Geraniums – Southern Hemisphere
  • Re-potting plants
  • Planting vegetables that are in-season
  • Tidying up pot plants
    Related: Pruning Activities
  • Propagating succulents
  • Making Terrariums
    Related: How to Create a Desert Terrarium

I once sat a client, who could not communicate at all, in front of an old pot of fern with just a few green leaves in the middle, and a mass of dead leaves around it.

I asked her if she could tidy-up the plant for me and placed a pair of safety scissors within her reach. She looked at it for 15 minutes before she proceeded to pick up the scissors and slowly cut the dead leaves away one by one.

We were amazed at the transformation in her demeanor; from expressionless to alert in 25 minutes and smiles when we praised her. This is the sort of outcome that makes our jobs so worthwhile.

Bad weather Garden Activities:

If the weather turns cold or windy, conduct your meeting indoors.
Here are a few ideas:

  • Spanish moss bundles – It is hard to find Spanish Moss to buy, and when you do it can be rather expensive; try asking residents’ relatives to bring some from home. Each resident can make a small bundle for the outside wall of their bedrooms or hang on a tree or indoor plant.
  • Potpourri Sachets – Make sachets for wardrobes or drawers with natural fragrant plants, herbs and flowers.
  • Planting Indoors Bulbs – Spring bulbs are easy to grow and guarantee flowers every time. Plant beautiful hyacinth, narcissus and amaryllis bulbs and place on window sills or other sunny areas.

Tips & Instructions:

  1. If planting bulbs, purchase them from a reputable nursery.
    • You will need glass containers (any size) and small pebbles.
    • Place pebbles inside a container and arrange a few bulbs, (or just one bulb if the container is small) root side down, so that the pebbles cover half of the bulbs.
    • Finally, put a minimum amount of water in the container, just enough to touch the root of the bulbs.
    • Watch it grow!

  2. Geraniums, also known as Pelargoniums are almost fail-proof plants; fragrant and beautiful. Ask residents’ relatives for cuttings and trim them for planting as follows:
    • Cut below growth nodule;
    • Take leaves and flower buds out leaving only the smallest leaves attached.
    • Dip ends in honey and place in potting mixture.
    • Water pots once a week.

  3. If making Spanish moss hangings, be careful when gathering the strands to tie them; if the strands are hung upside down, they won’t thrive.
    • Strands may be cut with scissors and then tied with a rubber band or kitchen string (do not use metal of any kind such as a florist wire or metal twist-tie).
    • Tie the little bundle (using string) to a stick or bamboo or recycled chopstick.
    • Before hanging it on a tree or wall, submerge the bundle in tap water or rain water and soak well.
    • In the hot summer months use a spray bottle to water once a week.

  4. If making Potpourri, buy the sachets ready-made or buy some satin fabric and ask someone to sew the sachets for you. Buy the dried herbs and flowers; then mix them up to your liking in a large container. Fill sachets and tie with pretty ribbons.
  5. Buy the best potting mixture you can afford, you will get you money back in yield.
  6. Ask relatives of residents to bring in cuttings of succulents for a gardening session. Mix potting mixture with sand or gravel for vigorous growth. Succulents are very versatile, you can make hanging pots, wreaths and feature pot plants. The variety is enormous and so are the colours; well worth your effort. Place them in partly shaded spots and water only when dried.
  7. People with poor dexterity can work in pairs; one holds the pot and another fills the pot with potting mixture; place potting mixture on a chair between them.

Good Luck!


  • How to Create a Backyard Bird Habitat
  • Weather Station Activities for Seniors
  • Sensory Stimulation with Wind Chimes

What garden activities have you found to work well with seniors?

How Do I Start A Garden Club: Tips On Starting A Garden Club

You love to putter about in your garden learning how to make plants grow. But it’s even more fun when you’re part of a group of passionate gardeners who unite to trade information, swap stories and give each other a hand. Why not think about starting a garden club?

If your idea of a garden club involves neatly dressed ladies with fancy hats drinking tea, you’ve been watching too much television. Modern garden clubs unite men and woman of all ages who share a common love of flowers, shrubs and vegetable plants. If the idea sounds intriguing, consider starting a garden club. But, you ask, how do I start a garden club? Read on for all the tips you need to get going.

How Do I Start a Garden Club?

The most important part about a garden club is getting people to join, and that is where you should put

considerable effort. Start with like-minded friends. If none of your gang enjoys digging in dark soil, that’s okay. You can start a neighborhood garden club.

What is a Neighborhood Garden Club?

What is a neighborhood garden club? It’s a group of people in your own area of town interested in meeting up around garden activities. Neighborhood clubs are easiest since everybody lives close to one other and may share similar regional concerns.

Advertise your idea by telling neighbors, co-workers and church groups. Post signs at the local library, nurseries, neighborhood cafes and community center. Ask the local paper to run a notice for you. Make it clear in fliers and notices that people of all experience levels are welcome to join.

Garden Club Information

After you have your member drive launched, start thinking about other tasks necessary for starting a garden club. You’ll need a good way to communicate with fellow members and get garden club information spread to everyone. Why not utilize technology and sign everyone up for a Facebook group?

You’ll also need to plan and organize meetings. Talk to other members about what they think would be useful and helpful. Get a consensus on how often and what days to meet.

Consider round-table discussions about a popular topic. Or schedule fun hands-on sessions building tomato cages or demonstrating propagating plants by cuttings. You can organize plant or seed swaps, or work together to plant a community garden or care for a public green space.

The best garden clubs take advantage of everyone’s knowledge. One way to do this is to ask each member in turn to design and lead a meeting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *