It wasn’t until I had the courage to attend my first gardening group meeting that I discovered the gold I was missing.
I sat in the back of the lovely gazebo at Christchurch Botanic Gardens, well aware that my red hair was intensely evident among the softer-toned buds around me at the Canterbury Horticultural Society.
But the experience was not at all what I thought it would be. There were no complicated and isolating words. No question was too simple.
I immediately realized that the group was as relevant to me as a new gardener as it was to the members who had had their hands in the dirt their entire lives. But where were my newbie comrades?
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Of those I know in their 30s and 40s, I would venture to assume that if they were in a club, outside of their friendship groups, it would probably be around sports, snow, or crafts. .
Limited time is always the first factor in passing membership opportunities. Work commitments, commitments to children, young families and busy lives are some or all of the situations that affect people at different times in their lives.
The weather, and perhaps the fact that we can so easily find information in the sporadic moments we have available through our phones, the internet, and the couch at the end of a long day. While I have found tremendous benefits from belonging to various gardening groups on Facebook, it was the gardeners at the meetings who provided all the answers to the sticky little questions I have on my own backyard.
Does my generation think we have less time than the generations above us at the same age? Or is it just that within our peer groups, there is not this path to follow in the clubs?
As a person who is very protective of their free time, I would like to dismantle the fear of club involvement. Garden clubs, societies and groups of all shapes and sizes give us many options.
Go to events
Garden clubs focus on arranging guest speakers, demonstrations or garden tours for their members while providing fellowship and casual relationships that are invaluable to those who are learning.
For example, the Canterbury Horticultural Society holds two meetings per month, with guest speakers followed by gardening tips. But they are only one part of a very active and wider offer of workshops and activities organized by the company – in which non-members can also participate!
Volunteering in a community garden will occasionally take time and muscle, but in return, you’ll benefit from free mentoring and advice as you learn while increasing your gardening skills. No experience is required and connection and learning is limitless.
How to find a club
Wondering how to find nearby gardening clubs or societies? We might not expect to see any posts promoting their existence on our Instagram feed – and unless a friend draws us in, it can be easy to miss their presence, ultimately losing the benefits of our own. gardening adventure.
But a quick online search will reveal sites listing neighborhood and regional garden clubs and community gardens in your area, across the country.
Age is just a number
It is true that retirees have the opportunity to devote more time to getting together or volunteering, which is why so many of these groups are frequented by people older than us. But for me, this is the absolute advantage of it all!
Multigenerational groups give us newbies access to the knowledge, support, and enthusiasm that would simply be lacking if we were to stick only to our peers.
I recently spoke at a meeting of the Friends of the Gardens; a group of volunteers created to foster the important link between Christchurch Botanic Gardens and the community, supporting the Gardens team in maintaining this great public good.
Once again, as I mingled with other gardeners, I was not only reminded of the powerful positivity of a shared passion for fostering connection, but also the glaring fact that age was not a barrier.
Take the time for your passion
At 40, I am juggling my professional and domestic responsibilities too, but I have chosen gardening as a passion that I am ready to live.
While I only slip into a meeting every now and then, I just never leave unrewarded and inspired, eager to improve my attendance.
I can only encourage other new gardeners to dive in and slip into a meeting as well.
Julia Atkinson-Dunn is the author and creator of Studio Home. You can join her on @studiohomegardening or studiohome.fr