If you had asked me ten years ago whether I was a gardener looking for a garden club, I would have laughed and said no on both counts. Yet here I am, all these years later, looking forward to my two year term as the recently elected president of BCCGC and very honoured to be representing an organization with such a long and proud history.
During the summers when I was growing up in Nova Scotia, my family would host a parade of visitors. One of our favorite activities, besides going to the beach or eating lobster, was visiting historic homes. Every community seemed to have some mansion open to the public – interesting homes with lovely grounds and wonderful gardens. My love of sitting in or walking though gardens probably dates back to these nostalgic summer days spent in the company of friends and relatives.
While I became a great appreciator of gardens, my actual gardening knowledge was minimal. And so it remained until a couple of months before graduating from high school when our daughter announced that she’d invited her friends to our garden to have their photos taken in their graduation finery. “What garden?” queried my horrified husband. Fortunately I had recently become friendly with a couple of women who happened to be amazing gardeners. At my cry for help, they gamely donned their gloves, welded their shovels and pitchforks and, in the pouring rain, we dug up plants, split perennials and rearranged rocks and plants to create something quite lovely. Laying down their tools at the end of the day they said to me: “You are on your own now. We think you have the makings of a gardener – you just need some confidence. Join a garden club.” Feeling some responsibility to keep this newly created garden alive for at least two months, I joined my local garden club (the South Surrey Garden Club) immediately.
I have never looked back. I love being a member of a garden club. I can participate in so many ways. My initial concern over my lack of gardening knowledge disappeared as other skills and knowledge assimilated during a lifetime of work took on new meaning when I was asked to use them in the organizing and operation of the club’s activities. I have learned so much by listening to knowledgeable speakers on a variety of garden related topics, from managing bee hives to learning about plants that attract bees, from soil composition to composting, from landscape design to heritage tomatoes, from rare plants in Bhutan to invasive plants in British Columbia. I have visited and admired fellow club members’ gardens, participated in workshops and gone on gardening tours. My garden has benefitted with the addition of unusual plants from plant sales. When things don’t look right, there is always someone to offer a piece of useful, practical advice. While I may not always remember the name of plants in my garden, I am constantly reminded of and can tell you exactly who has given me the various cuttings that have transformed my garden over the years. And the pleasure of eating a tomato from my own backyard can only be understood by a fellow vegetable gardener!
I have come to appreciate that it is very relaxing to come together for a few hours every now and then with a group of people who expect nothing more of me than to show an interest in gardening and chat or work with them on some aspect of it. It gives me a sense of connection meeting with a group of people who have a common interest in something so fundamental to our wellbeing. When I meet someone new to my community, I suggest they join a local garden club. If I were to move, I would check the BC Council of Garden Clubs website and search for a member club near my new home. I would go so far as to say that probably the best thing I’ve done for my health in the last few years was to join a garden club and become more active with gardening.
Over the next two years I intend to look for ways to promote the various member clubs that belong to the Council. Please contact me at President@bcgardenclubs.com if your club would like to give a short presentation at our October 14, 2017 Council meeting. I also welcome suggestions you may have as to how to promote BC’s many and varied garden clubs to the general public. I am certain there are many people in BC who, like me ten years ago, have not yet realized they are gardeners looking for a garden club. What a worthwhile pursuit it would be to inspire even a few of them to join their local gardening club!