Being surrounded by books makes me feel secure and comfortable knowing that I have information or entertainment at hand whenever I need it. However, my bookshelves also hold magazine holders where I store the magazines like Fine Gardening and the magazines and newsletters from horticultural societies like the American Horticultural Society, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the New England Wildflower Society. I am a member of all three. Memberships in horticultural and plant societies make a great gift.
Membership in the American Horticultural Society ($35 annually) includes a subscription to The American Gardener, a bi-monthly magazine that includes information about the doings of the Society, and articles about plants and gardeners, expert and amateur. Last year, as part of a series on gardeners in the community, they even included an article about me, and the Bridge of Flowers. Previous issues are also available online to all members.
As rich and useful as The American Gardener is, that is only one of the membership benefits. Members also get reciprocal entry to 300 public gardens nationally, a seed exchange program, and discounts at the Garden Shop.
What the AHS gets from our dues is support for programs like the National Children and Youth Garden Symposium for teachers and those creating school and other gardens for the young. Dues also support the AHS headquarters which includes the 25 acre River Farm in Alexandria, Virginia with its varied gardens. There are perennial borders, a meadow, an orchard and 13 small imaginative gardens that make up the whole of the Children’s Garden. We are all invited to visit.
A bit closer is the Massachusetts Horticultural Society ($55) with its headquarters in Wellesley. The ElmBankGardens include Weezie’s Garden for children, a trial garden for All-America seeds, the Garden to Table vegetable garden, and gardens planted by the Daylily Society and the Rhododendron Society. The Italianate Garden was originally designed by the Olmstead Brothers, and renovated in 2001. A Masshort membership gives you unlimited access to all these gardens, as well as reciprocal admission to public gardens across the country, discounts at 70 nurseries and garden centers, and discounts on the many educational programs and events presented every year. And, of course, a ticket to the Boston Flower and Garden Show.
Membership in the Massachusetts Horticultural Society will also give you a subscription to Rodale’s Organic Life and borrowing privileges at the Society’s library.
Even more locally is Nasami Farm in Whately, the propagating wing of the New England Wildflower Society ($55) founded in 1900. Membership in this Society gives you unlimited visits to the Garden in the Woods in Framingham with admission for one guest each visit, subscription to all Society publications, plus monthly e-newsletters, and discounts at a number of regional and mail order nurseries through the Nursery Partner Program.
With all the growing information and appreciation of the benefits to the environment of using native plants, and eradicating invasive plants, I find it a pleasure to support the oldest plant conservation organization in the United States. And a real pleasure to shop for native perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and trees at Nasami Farm.
I must mention that all three societies have beautiful websites, full of information, and all free. Among other things the AHS has a full list of plant societies like the Daylily Society with full information about joining them.
The New England Wildflower Society’s website includes Go Botany which will help you identify plants, but of course, you need to observe and describe them carefully. Go Botany is a great place for adults and children to work together to identify plants and have fun while learning about the anatomy and life of plants.
For those who wish to specialize there are plant societies devoted to a specific plant. There are many iris enthusiasts in our area and the American Iris Society ($30 annually) produces a 65 page Bulletin four times a year with all the latest information about iris cultivation and new cultivars whether they be Japanese, Siberian, dwarf or any other type of iris. There will also be news about iris tours, auctions and exhibitions.
The American Rhododendron Society ($40) produces a quarterly Journal with Society and plant information, information about conferences, lectures and tours, discounts on books, and local chapters where rhodie lovers can meet others of like mind.
There is also the American Rose Society ($49) which will give you 5 issues of American Rose magazine, the American Rose Annual, a handbook for selecting roses, online quarterly bulletins, advice from consulting rosarians, discounts at rose nurseries, free or reduced admission to many public gardens and arboreta, and a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. www.rose.org.
A gift membership in any one (or two) of the societies that gives information about the favorite plants of the gardener in your family is bound to be a hit. The cost is modest, and you can do all your shopping on line.
Between the Rows December 19, 2015