Last week someone commented that I—well, the whole site—was crotchety and out of date. I didn’t really mind; we do voice strong opinions and when people don’t agree they can go ad hominem if they want. (Oh, the comment fights I’ve seen on this blog! Good times.) The comment was really a misunderstanding; I had not made it clear that I, too, loved houseplants and had a sizable collection, even though I do like to complain about them. Being crotchety and all.
But it made me think about the way gardeners communicate and learn. While this isn’t a how-to site, and we never intended it to be, there is a general sense of flailing about when it comes to sharing information between beginning and experienced gardeners. Extensions are fine as far as they go, but they really do not go far, at least not in my region. Online groups are fun, but not always helpful and often completely the opposite. It’s really a patchwork with a lot of missing pieces. I think I learned the most about what I wanted my garden to be and how to get it there from books and from going on our local garden walks. And, though, I’ve never belonged to one, I know there are excellent garden clubs throughout Buffalo’s suburbs. I’ve given talks at a few and these are often really knowledgeable gardeners. (If I hadn’t been giving away bulbs at one of them, I’m not sure they would have tolerated me.) There is no city garden club, sadly—and there should be!
Garden clubs, however, mainly consist of older gardeners. We also have some excellent societies (hosta, daylily, pond), but they are super specialized. Classes exist, but very sporadically—and you’re just hearing from one viewpoint. I wonder if a revamping of the garden club model would be possible, with a better mix of generations and gender identities. Is that already happening? It does not seem so here. It would be fun to go to some sort of monthly gathering with people using technology to show what they’re doing and get feedback. When someone shows any picture in our online group, regardless of what’s amiss, it gets universal applause in every comment. It has to be that way; no good comes of any real critique, not online. In person, however, this gardener might show a projected image and people would feel better about saying, “This is great; have you thought of …”
It seems I’ve just given myself a New Year’s resolution: starting an urban-based club (though any are welcome) and finding a place for it. It would have all ages, and be carefully spiked with a few real experts. There would be a projector (which I have to buy anyway), plant swapping, visiting celebrities, and maybe cocktails, sometimes. Anybody been successful at this?