Save our Garden Clubs!

I love twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the way they have helped gardeners and plant lovers to connect. But, you STILL can’t beat real-life interaction.. an entertaining evening with a speaker (i.e. me, or some of the other available speakers!), plant and seed swaps, a nice cup of tea and a gossip, the bouncing of ideas amongst gardening friends.. But, most importantly, that’s all with members who may or may not have internet use at home..!

Some of our garden clubs are in crisis, as the gap between the 2 types of gardeners seems to widen; the online and offline communities. What can be done? Well, I regularly visit garden clubs and see many different styles of organisation; some with too few members and some with waiting lists; some filled with vivid, bouncy personalities with loads of new ideas and some with despondent, less keen personalities; some that are testing new ideas and some that are doing the same old thing (which, importantly, doesn’t always attract new members, the one thing they want!)

So, I am considering building my own blueprint for advising garden clubs across the UK on how to create a much-loved, thriving, well-attended garden club or horticultural society, and I need your ideas…

Please leave your comments in the box below..

a) You might be a member of a garden club at the moment and you want to tell me what your club is actively doing to attract new members, as well as keep existing members happy..

b) You might be a member of a garden club that isn’t so buzzing, and seldom attracts new members; why do you think this is…?

c) You may not be a member of a garden club or horticultural society. Why is that? Cost? Location? Lack of activities that attract you?

When giving me your thoughts, think about: speakers, activities and visits, refreshments, plant sales, competitions, member incentives, the cost of membership, social media interaction, charity partnerships… let your mind wander freely…!

Thanks- let’s see what we can do to review the garden clubs of the UK!

 

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathleen Jones says:

    We are a thriving village gardening club in Wigmore Herefordshire and mix monthly speakers with monthly car trips/coach trips to gardens in our region. We also have an informal approach to meetings and feel like a group of friends getting together. Have started using the media and twitter to spread the word and have a plant sale in May which also helps introduce us to the community. Cheers!

  2. Michael, do you think that the RHS affiliated societies scheme should be providing the kind of guidance that you might be thinking of producing https://www.rhs.org.uk/joinaffiliatedsocieties ? They do offer a structure, incentive and support for garden clubs and local societies. From observations of my local garden club, I notice that they don’t make use of social media platforms so no twitter, instagram, Facebook etc..which seem ideal for promoting, sharing and encouraging support. I was invited to give a talk last year to the local conservation society about the history of a relic garden in the village and found there was a lack of age diversity in the audience, the society was run by only two passionate individuals (husband and wife team), had incredibly low subs of just £2 per year and held their meetings on a Saturday afternoon, which must deter families or young professionals who are likely doing other activities over the weekend at that time. So there’s perhaps a need to consider (i) relevance to as an audience as possible, (ii) charging an appropriate fee that will ensure financial stability and (iii) using social media to promote activity and engage with members.

    1. I agree. The disconnect between offline and online is one of the big issues for me. The two means of communication need to be used side by side and are not mutually exclusive. Anyone with a blog or Facebook page knows the better network one creates the better the visibility and interaction one gets. Gardening clubs are effectively invisible to many potential members without some kind of online presence.

      I agree less about timings. As a full time working person I find almost every club I have ever considered has meetings at times which would not suit me and that includes during the week. This is something that might favour the retired over younger members, but here I guess there is no easy answer. An interesting debate Michael. Good luck with your quest.

  3. Beryl says:

    I think I might be part of a minority. All my info on growing has come from 3 books and online forums. I have 2 allotments and zero outdoor space of my own, and the gardening clubs around me seem to focus on roses, shrubs, ornamental trees, various flowers. None of which I really grow. If I need to find something out or get ideas, I go to the internet. There is very little for people who want to/can only grow edibles – all the telly is very heavily weighted to people with gardens, usually on a fairly big scale. so I watch them on iplayer and skip to the 5 or so minutes on edibles.

  4. Hello Check out my new website http://garden-club-listings.webnode.com/ connecting gardening clubs and horticultural speakers throughout the UK follow us on twitter too @gclublistings

  5. I run a thriving gardening club in East Yorkshire http://www.hookgardening.club I set it up 5 years ago from scratch. No annual membership £3 per person per meeting, offer plant swap, local plant nursery sponsors us in return for donating our Monthly raffle prizes they get free publicity on our website and on social media, we offer a plant swap, gardening book lending library, free refreshments. 8 meetings a year and new faces every month!!! We meet last Friday of the Month at Hook Memorial Hall 7pm! 30-40 visitors per meeting not just from the village but a 20 mile radius.. Find us on facebook, Twitter I use social media for free publicity and it works a treat!

  6. My nan and grandad club, which I have been to a few times is just that. A nan and grandad club. All of the older generation. This is probably due to being in norfolk but we need to encourage younger people to join who will ultimately then bring the social media side of things to the clubs. Getting into schools and colleges, sowing the seeds of the love of gardening and horticulture in these places will get more people involved and very enthusiastic especially when it looks so good on uni applications. You get them involved and it will spread like wild fire.

  7. Mud Cakes and Wine says:

    I am a mum of three young children and time poor but interested in gardening. I want to write more on my blog about my attempts at gardening and chat with a wonderful online community who always help me. But I may look into local clubs but always worry my lack of knowledge may be looked down on though this is my thought not what’s happened

  8. Ruth says:

    I joined my college town, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, garden club after living in my town 7 years, having relocated from UK. I joined because I wanted to learn more about gardening. I come from a family of gardeners back home, but these new conditions are not for the faint of heart.
    Well, years of living in England, and coming from a family of gardeners I knew ‘some’ stuff, didn’t mean I knew how to ‘do’ stuff there though 😉

    I was one of the youngest people in the room, but jumped in with both feet, and I’ve been met with such welcome and encouragement, not to mention generosity and friendship. They love that I want to share their hobby.
    What I’ve brought to the party is a willingness to join in, sit on a committee and push into Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest for them. The club already had a website for itself, a separate one for the tour, and Facebook.

    The club has been in operation since 1931, currently stands at 121 members, and younger people are trickling in, but it’s recognized that the club lives in fear of dying out, literally.
    The program is varied and interesting.( Climate change professor, pollinator garden expert, farm to table chef, floristry, winter interest, moss gardens, metal smiths, rose and other specialist nurseries, wildlife gardening, propagation, plant hunters etc. etc.)
    We have floristry classes, field trips, social events, volunteer community outreach programs and we organize a town spring garden tour every two years that raises funds for our NC botanical garden and that community work.

    We meet once a month for the main meeting, on a Tuesday morning, some members take the time off work to attend.

    If you want to see some of the tour gardens, I’d love for you to take a peek on IG ch.garden, I know it’s a long way to come visit ;

  9. Bob Hobden says:

    It’s a common problem with all clubs and groups, the membership ages and falls off their perches and very few younger people will join. So the membership reduces and ages. I used to be the events organiser for a pensioner group and often got 40+ on a trip now it’s possibly 15 if I’m lucky. “Youngsters” do not seem to be club friendly and seem uninterested in such things preferring to just do their own thing, very insular.

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