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Are you a member of a local rose club or society?

As a relatively younger member of an official garden club composed of mostly older retired ladies, I have seen how few new people actually join. Newbies are also more often retirees. Back in the day, our garden club was sort of like a Jr. League: white gloves, hats, teas but since the 70's has taken a much more egalitarian turn.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow OGR G-Webber this past week (Hi MaureeninMD!) and am the happy recipient of new rose starts to try. In our "getting to know you" discussions she lamented trying to start up a rose enthusiast social group in our area of Maryland and the difficulty in finding people that will take up the offer.

My thinking of why *I* would be a part of a plant specific group was to get to know and commiserate with other growers in our MidAtlantic zone 6, see what works in our gardens and to disperse any new information. If you are a total newbie, you get mentors or at least learn how-to and if you are a veteran, you get to dispense advise. There's a nice social aspect in getting to know other people in your area and to organize tours of gardens both historic and informal backyard do's.

I'm an informal member of our ARS group, but haven't been able to attend the meetings which often conflict with other schedules. PLus I have to fight traffic both ways to get there. I find myself wishing it wasn't in a different county.

I can get a lot of information online and in books. I participate in these forums. BUT there's nothing like meeting and becoming friends with a flesh and blood person with a similar obsession. :-)

Are you a participating member of any type of rose club? If not, what holds you back? Is this a passe idea for most people?

There's a least 2 Carroll Countians (MD) who would like to be part of something informal...

Comments (28)

  • zeffyrose
    12 years ago

    I agree it is wonderful to meet real-life GW members. I did belong to a rose group near me for a while but continuing health problems have been very restrictive.

    Your log cabin restoration sounds wonderful----please keep us posted as you progress--Pa-Md. is a lovely area----I live in Bucks County which is als a nice area---


  • ingrid_vc so. CA zone 9
    12 years ago

    Being by nature something of a loner, clubs and societies are not really my forte. What I have enjoyed is meeting and becoming a rose friend with one of the members of this forum who lives fairly close to me and being introduced to an experienced rosarian in my area by Jeri, whose garden I've seen several times and who's also introduced me to some local public gardens that he has planted with old roses. I attended a rose society meeting but felt out of my element since most of the members are interested in modern roses. I think there has to be the right chemistry between you and the society in question.


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    We were active members of the local society when we had a local society. Some of the above post have started to nibble at the edges of the real issues. 1. Distance. There are limits to how far people will go to attend a meeting. Most of our regular attendees traveled less than half an hour to the meetings. The farthest among them traveled about 45 minutes. While some people may happily travel longer, it is a very real constraint. 2. Time of meetings. Every group I've been involved in has been torn in half between two very basic points of view. Older, retired people often dislike driving at night, and prefer holding meetings weekend afternoons. Younger, working people dislike having meetings during their prime gardening hours and prefer holding meetings weekday evenings. 3. Programming. This was our biggest issue. There really aren't that many speakers/programs with the breadth of experience to give a totally new program every year. It isn't easy to come up with interesting enough programs once a month, almost every month, year after year. This is the one area the ARS really let us down. Because of our size, we were very dependent on outside material. At that point, they had about 3 canned programs on hardy roses, and that was it. It was equally hard to get appropriate newsletter material from outside. If you are far enough north that you can pretty much cut and paste standard HT culture articles, this isn't going to be an issue. If you feel the standard articles need a lot of editing to be accurate, then you are going to be in our position where everything has to be created by your society, and that is a lot of work. 4. Participation. 'Many hands make light work' is true. None of this is a problem if you have enough people willing to help. If you can get 12 people to each contribute a newsletter article once a year, that's an original article every month, with nobody doing a lot of work. However, you have to ask a lot of people to get those 12. The same is true for every other society job. Someone may be willing to be President for a year or two, but quits in a huff after ten years because they have been pushed too far. Notice I haven't said anything about shows. Within fairly reasonable guidelines, shows can be what the local society wants them to be. We had shows where the Dowager and Modern Shrub classes had more entries and more exhibitors than Exhibition HT. If we had continued on, we were seriously considering creating our own Shrub certificates because we needed a Shrub court.
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  • imagardener2
    12 years ago

    The closest OGR club is 4 hours away from me and I'm really not into hybrids which is what the closer Rose Groups are all about.

    Like Ingrid groups are not my favorite thing but I love to see gardens and talk with knowledgeable gardeners, just not happening in my small small town.
    I have learned more in this forum than I could have in years elsewhere.

    Maybe like Groucho Marx I don't want to belong to any group that would accept me as a member. No that's not even true.


  • Campanula UK Z8
    12 years ago

    don't like people, only plants.

  • jerijen
    12 years ago

    Oh, you guys!
    Local affiliate Heritage Roses Groups were made for you.

    Of local groups, Miriam Wilkins wrote: "Start out with a light heart, for you need meet only when you wish to."

    A local HRG can operate in any way you wish it to. Most elect no officers.

    My own local group (Gold Coast HRG) almost never "meets."
    We have conducted a running on-line discussion for years now, and GC is the first place we turn with a question.
    Our "meetings," if you may call them that, consist of periodic Rose Rustles, or a dinner gathering at some rose event. But not all go, of course.

    We (Gold Coast) have a quarterly Newsletter, and charge dues, to support that.
    But other HRG Groups have no dues, and no Newsletter.
    Still others for one specific reason or another elect formal officers.
    So you see, your local HRG can be as much, or as little, as you wish it to be.

    I was just informed of a new group in the Central Sierra area of California, but we would love to have more Local groups in the East.

    If something like that appeals to the anarchists among you, --G-- contact me, and I'll send you more information.

    Jeri Jennings
    Heritage Roses Groups "Rose Letter"

    Here is a link that might be useful: The Heritage Roses Groups

  • saldut
    12 years ago

    My DIL and I belong to the Central Fla. Heritage Rose Society, in Lakeland at Fla. Southern College, it is a good 1 & 1/2 hour drive on I-4, but we wouldn't miss it for the world, they meet on Sun. afternoons.. Dr. Malcolm Manners is a past-Pres. and gives us his expertise freely. There is a raffle of donated plants, I won a "Fairy" polyantha... after the meeting we go to the "cookie-room' and stuff our faces. There seems to be a fairly large membership and mostly mid-aged and younger folks, some old like me, a nice mix..... sally

  • sherryocala
    12 years ago

    I belong to our local rose society which usually meets less than 10 minutes from my house on Sundays. I have attended 3 meetings in 3 years but like others feel totally out of my element due to shyness. Additionally, building a garden from scratch has taken every weekend in my life for the last 3 years (well, almost). Maybe now that my garden is "built" I'll attend more but like others have said most of the folks grow HTs. Our newsletter editor grows OGRs though - by the hundreds! I invited the members who have email so maybe I'll meet some this Saturday at my Open Garden. That would be nice. Also, like Denise said, everything I know I learned here. It's definitely THE best graduate studies program available for rose gardening!!


  • sujiwan_gw 6b MD/PA
    Original Author
    12 years ago

    Well, see, I'm a loner too. BUT, I had this morbid epiphany that I had very few friends and fewer still that shared my interests. I overcame my natural shyness and joined a garden club even though at 50, I was a relative youngster. These are some of the nicest ladies I've ever met. :-)

    Now see, meeting regularly is something I would normally talk myself out of--I like the freedom of choosing to participate-- or not. But, suddenly I found myself agreeing to be secretary, give presentations, do volunteer work and it is drawing me out of my usual reticence. (This is affiliated with National Federated Garden Clubs and there are certan things each club has to do) but that's just *this* group.)

    I totally get the freeform social gathering--I'm into it. I just want to meet fellow earth travelers who can bring out the best in each other as far as the plant world is concerned. And I have met fellows from GW at the annual swap who are great people. But generally, once a year is *it*. I think this idea of Heritage Roses is a winner.

    As far as I can tell, our Maryland Rose Society doesn't push HTs. This month's newsletter discusses the Cherokee Rose, R. Setigera (Prairie Rose), Eglantines, Species and Moderns.
    I think that's great! And, they do volunteer work at an historic site called Cylburn. Just the same, I just think it would be nice to have more local rose friends like a few of you have mentioned!

    After reading about the distances some of you travel, I guess I'll have to try to make those meetings that aren't conflicting with my schedule. Puts me to shame.

    But I still would like to know who else is close enough to be considered a "Rosefriend"!


  • catsrose
    12 years ago

    I'm not a clubby sort of person. I belong to two local generic garden clubs but mostly to drum up business and because my mother told me one should be involved in one's community. I joined the local rose society when I first moved her but it was strictly HTs and exhibition, so I dropped it. What I really enjoy is people just dropping in--or being able to drop in on others as I travel--and annual gatherings like Connie's and Robert's. Also, clubs always seem to have money issues--dues, fund raiders, treasurer reports--which I find tiresome.

  • jerijen
    12 years ago

    You solve that by not HAVING dues.


  • hoovb zone 9 sunset 23
    12 years ago

    don't like people, only plants.

    Me too...but I've gotten a lot out of the local garden club I joined. Connections to wholesalers for cheap high quality plants, and because meetings are held in member gardens, I've had the chance to see some gorgeous gardens. I've gotten used to the people...they really are not so bad. Plant lovers seem to be far nicer than average.

    There are rose clubs but both are rather a long freeway drive on weeknights when the traffic is still bad, so I've never gotten to one.

  • aimeekitty
    12 years ago

    I tend to overload myself with projects and such... (and well... work)... so, probably what would happen is that I'd got to a meeting or two a year at best.

    ... like I'm a member of my local kimono club. Learned a lot the first two years, and I just don't really have time to go to all the events.

    and like hoovb said, traffic is atrocious! I tend to only go to events on weekends for that reason. "school night" and all.

    I think it would be fun to meet some of you though at some event!

  • veilchen
    12 years ago

    I was the president of our local garden club up until last year and am still very active in it. There is a rose society that meets about 20 min. away but I just haven't had time to join or attend meetings. I would like to, but with the gardening projects our local club does I feel I'm kind of tapped out.

  • buffington22
    12 years ago

    I'm a member of our local large garden club which has had some excellent speakers which I enjoy. But the business part is a drag. Our local rose society is all about hybrid teas and what to spray them with, which is totally not me!

  • hartwood
    12 years ago

    I think starting a Heritage Rose Group affiliate in this area would be the bomb!! Sounds like something I should research.

    I belong to two rose societies, Richmond and Northern Neck. Richmond is old-school, encourages exhibition, and it has a long history that I am proud to be a part of. Do I exhibit? Sometimes ... OGRs when I have them at the right time for the show. This year the show conflicts with the opening of my nursery, so I'll miss it. All members want all other members of the society to grow roses and succeed, no matter what type of roses you choose to grow. People like me give the HT crowd another view of what a rose can be. Most members appreciate the added perspective, even if they don't add OGRs to their garden.

    I also belong to two garden clubs ... Culpeper Garden Club, which is affiliated with the Garden Club of Virginia, and is another old-school type of club, and Four Seasons Garden Club which is more informal, lots of field trips, and is full of hard-core horticultural types. I am in awe of the knowledge that is around me when I go places with this crowd.

    Suji, Maureen is planning to come to my place for the Garden Social on the afternoon of June 5. You two can carpool. It's a good time.


  • lucretia1
    12 years ago


    we could start a rose club for misanthropes and refuse to hold any meetings. ;-)

  • kaye
    12 years ago

    I belong to the local rose society and have for several years. Also exhibit at the show in the fall. I've met many good people who are excited to find the OGRs and have added some to their gardens. As a matter of fact, I went to the April meeting yesterday (though I don't often go because of the distance) and had a good meeting with a program by our local county extention agent. It was on organic rose growing..

  • organic_tosca
    12 years ago

    A good way to meet fellow enthusiasts is to volunteer at a local rose garden. I'm lucky in that I live in Sacramento and became a volunteer at the Historic Rose Garden in the Old City Cemetery. When I first went there, I had no idea of being a volunteer (no expertise, either), but Anita gave me a mini tour and convinced me to at least try it. I've been doing it for almost 2 years now, and it's been great! Not only have I learned SO MUCH - I've met a lot of really nice people. I don't make it to all the meetings, but I go when I can. But, really, the best conversations are when you are working, say deadheading a big Tea. People chat (or not, if they prefer that - some just like a quiet garden atmosphere) in a mild way, and it's very relaxed and enjoyable. Some of also go to coffee afterwards, and that's fun too.

    Of course, not everyone is lucky enough to live near a place the Sacramento Historic Rose Garden - but even a public garden that doesn't have OGRs could maybe be "infiltrated" by OGR lovers and slowly be turned on to the idea of adding a few... We all know how THAT ends!


  • luxrosa
    12 years ago

    I used to belong to our local rose society but did not renew my membership because 11 and 1/2 out of 12 meetings were about modern roses.
    I've been meaning to join our local Heritage Rose society, but health issues have delayed this, much of my free time is given to volunteering to caring for old and wild roses in our public garden.


  • phil_schorr
    12 years ago

    I belong to three local rose societies, although I generally just get to the meetings of one of them. That group always has a spring garden tour, and in recent years we have been holding it early in the growing season so we can enjoy the OGRs grown by some of our members. The program at our last regular meeting was about making flower arrangements featuring roses. Local societies can do things that interest more of their members if they just make the effort.

  • ogroser
    12 years ago

    Suji - You are welcome to stop by my open garden near Brookeville on May 29 -30. A few folks come from near and far to see the garden and how it is changing year to year. This year with the devistation of 3 Blizzards and crushed roses, I'm guessing that we will have much of the wild look of years some time ago which some visitors may welcome again. With warm weather after the snow, my rose classes appear to be a few days ahead of schedule. However, there should not be a significan shortage of bloom. We always welcome rose enthusiasts of all sorts. I am even cultivating more visits by teasing a couple of local garden clubs with OGR talks this spring to come and smell the roses - even the HT folks sneak a peak sometimes (I may have a few of them as well). Please stop by and enjoy whatever we have and share some of your OGR stories and ideas as well. We'd love to share the garden such as it may be this spring. PS - The roses have already begun to bloom. Father Hugo's rose, Old Blush and Sophie's Perpetual have already begun to bloom and some HP's buds are showing color. What's not to love about zone 6b? Best, Nick

  • melissa_thefarm
    12 years ago

    We have no local rose society, garden club, public rose or botanical garden in the province of Piacenza that I know of. I also hate to get out, dragging myself only with great reluctance to see even my dearest gardening friends. Also, evening meetings in Italy usually start at 9 p.m., roughly the time when I go to bed. My contact with the gardening and rose world is almost entirely through Internet and the rose forums and through a handful of gardening friends here. Lately I've been feeling a bit horticulturally deprived: time for some new input! Meanwhile, in our beautiful province which is somewhat starved when it comes to ornamental horticulture (we do have a good autumn garden show, Frutti Antichi at Paderna), I think my garden may one day become a local resource for people who are interested in roses, garden plants, and garden design--at least that's the plan.

    I'm not the greatest person for going out and looking for organizations and activities, and there may be a lot more going on in Piacenza than I know about; but this has been my experience.


  • sergeantcuff
    12 years ago

    I am a bit of a misanthrope as well. But sometimes it's good to connect with someone with whom you share a common interest, a reminder that there are a few people out there who are not complete idiots.

    I always have extra plants, and have given many away on Freecycle, but lately am just not up to dealing with the philistines. Our freecyle group has a "community cafe" board, so I asked if anyone had an interest in antique roses, and met up with Sujiwan.

    I would be interested in a local HRG group, if a "group" can consist of two people. As Sujiwan mentioned, I did try to start a club in my town several years ago. It was not rose-oriented though, I was just trying to spruce up the public areas of the "historic" part of town. Few people were interested, and I was the only person who had any plants and was willing to do any work. I am incapable of directing other people anyway, so the whole idea was ridiculous.


  • jerijen
    12 years ago

    A new Local Group has just formed in the Central Sierra foothills area (Northern CA).
    It begins with two people -- both very experienced with Old Roses, and experienced Rose Rustlers.
    We know of one other person who will likely soon join them, but in essence, they will be a resource to people who want to learn about the Old Roses of that rose-rich area.
    Little-by-little, I think a few will join, but the group will likely never be big.
    Not big, but very useful. So we are thrilled to welcome them.
    You could probably initiate a similar small group, and be a resource for your part of MD.
    And there's no reason why you could not emphasize other historic plants, along with historic roses.
    I think they go together, myself.

    Also, as I said, it is ridiculously simple to initiate a group that "meets" on line.
    In fact, it gives you the ability to draw both experienced and inexperienced people who would probably have to travel a distance to be part of your group.

    I know how to do this, because I've done it, and I know how well it can work.


  • hartwood
    12 years ago

    Jeri, you have mail.

    The more I think about this, the more I think that I'm gonna jump in with both feet. We can all talk about this at my house while everyone is here in June. It could be a meeting!

    As far as things go with 'traditional' rose societies ... join, and be the voice of old roses among the membership. There are other members who are intrigued by OGRs, and you will be the 'mentor' they need to make the leap and add them to their garden. Volunteer to work society events, and encourage the public to try OGRs.


  • joebar
    12 years ago

    i do not see the point; i garden to get away from people in general. if i need information i come on here. plus i don't think there would be a lot of guys my age that are into growing roses like i am.
    my garden is open to anyone who wants to talk about it or have a glass of wine with me.

  • ogroser
    12 years ago

    I formed a local heritage roses group for the greater Washington DC area back in the early 1980s. Upwards of 15 or more folks would turn out for a meeting when we had something or someone available to give us a talk. I had Leonie Bell and Henry Mitchell give talks and possibly Lily Shohan. It turned out that it was kind of a committee of 1 and sometimes 2 to get the ball rolling. It kind of ran out of gas when I did after a couple of years. Perhaps there are more folks around now with interests in Heritage roses. So thinking back I remember what worked and what did not then. That is not to say it shouldn't work in some form for an area. It might not be more than a garden party and plant swap, but it might be worth while looking into. As Connie said - perhaps at her place at the June 5th gathering. Best, Nick

  • jerijen
    12 years ago

    We belong to two ARS Societies, and we get to most meetings.

    We think we've been pretty effective missionaries, because there has been increased knowledge of and interest in, antique roses, in those groups.
    We also give talks periodically, to other societies, and we see some response from that, too.

    But our most enjoyable contacts are those within our own Local Group. Though we interact MOSTLY on line, we have close, warm friendships that are renewed whenever we do get together.

    I think networking with others who love Old Roses has value, and is worth making a little effort for.
    Connie -- You'd be a great addition.