Joining a Horticultural Society

ecology park

Gladys Fowler

Are you finding the winter months cold and long? Do you yearn to look out your window into the garden and see something green growing? Joining your local horticultural society is a way to satisfy your gardening urges whether you are a seasoned gardener or "rookie".

Each month at their general meeting the societies bring in a variety of well known speakers who talk or demonstrate on a variety of topics. Some speakers show slides or give demonstrations. Each month you get to see and hear a "gardening expert" and you learn whatís new in gardening. Your membership also allows you to listen to speakers at other horticultural societies, and there are several in our area.

Membership in your society gives you the opportunity to borrow books and videos on a wide range of gardening topics, from how-to books, to landscaping so you can indulge your passion by getting ideas and making plans for changes to the garden.

Most horticultural societies offer hands on workshops that give you the opportunity to meet other gardening enthusiasts in a small group to learn new skills. One workshop I attended required participants to bring pruners. Using a fellow memberís garden, and with the instruction and guidance of a professional, we pruned evergreens, deciduous trees, and flowering shrubs. Now I feel confident doing my own pruning. Another workshop involved the making of garden troughs. Amid much laughter and with our arms buried in a mixture of water, peat, and cement, we learned how to make our own garden containers to hold succulents or alpine plants. These creations are not only attractive but also functional as they withstand our cold temperatures.

Horticultural societies usually hold plant sales-some just for members, and some for the gardening public. This is a very good way to introduce different varieties of excellent plant material to your own garden at a reasonable price. Members selling plant material are knowledgeable about the conditions needed for optimum growth, and the growing habits of different plants.

Enjoy the camaraderie of fellow members on tours of memberís gardens, or bus trips to garden shows, public gardens, nurseries etc. Did you know that gardeners have been known to give up their seat to a plant when there just is no more room left?

Many societies offer their members a monthly newsletter as well as a yearbook filled with gardening tips, committee reports, and a calendar of events including monthly speakers and their topics. The yearbook gives you a thorough picture of the activities of the society.

For the competitive or those just wanting to learn more about "showing plants" there are opportunities to enter competitions and flower shows.

Some horticultural societies encourage interest and improvement in horticulture through gardening shows. In the past two years the Peterborough Horticultural Society, in conjunction with Master Gardeners, has promoted horticulture through their "For the Love of Gardening Show" at the Evinrude Centre. This is an opportunity for gardening enthusiasts to hear informative speakers on a variety of topics, attend workshops, see new plant varieties, get landscape ideas, and buy the latest gardening products.

Funds generated through the "For the Love of Gardening Show" benefit the community in several ways. Donations of money, or plant material have been donated to many local organizations such as Riverview Park and Zoo, Hospice Peterborough, St. Josephís at Fleming, Bridgenorth Beautification Committee to name just a few. As members we are proud to be able to help beautify our community. Our local society has developed a scholarship program to encourage and assist students in pursuing post secondary education in a horticultural field. Up to four $1000 scholarships are awarded annually

The local societyís longest running project is Fleming Park at the corner of Aylmer and Brock Street. This park has won awards for its heritage plants and design. Unfortunately last summerís flood caused widespread damage and loss of plants. Interested local members volunteer a couple of hours a week to weed, mulch and plant the garden beds.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of belonging to a horticultural society is having the opportunity to socialize with other gardeners who share a similar passion for growing roses, clematis, daylilies, etc. Gardeners are known for their enthusiasm for sharing seeds, plants, and for giving helpful advice on pests, diseases, or whatever happens to be the gardening challenge of the moment. Come to a monthly meeting. We may be just what youíre looking for!