xi. GARDEN CLUBS
Garden clubs offer a range of ways to encourage local gardeners toward more self sufficiency and sustainability. A meeting of Ivanhoe Garden Club was attended early in the data collection to try and ascertain the contribution garden clubs make to this.
The club was also consulted for some opinion from home gardeners, albeit active ones. There were a number of responses from members, showing that there was concern at the club for my research topic. Many themes raised were shared with other research participants, with slightly more emphasis on the role of the media.
While produce gardens are not necessarily their focus, garden clubs include it as a facet of gardening, and visit each other’s gardens for ideas. Garden clubs offer a community network for the home gardener, including the older garden knowledge that has been pointed to in this research as perhaps getting lost. Susan La Marca said they were “a great way to learn particular knowledge from older gardeners who learnt much of this long ago.”
Olympic Village Primary School participated in the Ivanhoe Garden Club competitions. Anne Bishop, president of Prahran Garden Club, explained that in conjunction with Scotsburn Nursery, the club was running a pot up a plant stall for children; and a school garden competition at the Stonnington Spring into Gardening Festival. Yarra Primary School Kitchen Garden entered under the best edible plant entry.
Ivanhoe’s secretary, Julie Stafford, offered that “garden clubs can play an important role in spreading education about responsible, sustainable gardening. I believe it is possible to maintain a garden that has a mix of exotics, vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, natives and drought-tolerant plants. After all, we owe it to the birds, bees and insects to maintain diversity in our gardens. The way we do it is to create gardens that are less reliant on water. Some if the club’s advice include heavy mulching, less frequent, but deeper watering and cottage gardens over formal”
Garden clubs were also found at churches and adult education centres. The Herb Society of Victoria promotes growing and using herbs and their herbal wisdom is available through joining.