AGS Local Groups: AGS Groups- members gardens
Started by: Tim IngramGo to latest contribution by Tim Ingram, 01 June 2011, 13:57. Go to bottom of this page.
Just a quick thought experiment around our gardens. We have some 50 Local Groups, very varied in size and interests. Lets say there is an average of 5 members per Group who have gardens they might consider opening to the public. Many may do so already via the National Garden Scheme or local events, or simply to each other (the East Kent Group may be a little unusual in having quite a high proportion of members able and willing to open their gardens - ca. 25% of the membership).
This implies a possible 250 AGS Gardens around the country that might possibly open to visitors at different times. If each attracts a couple of visitors to consider joining the Society there is the chance of 500 new members!
Now this could only happen over a number of years as and when Groups feel inspired to organise special openings of members gardens, but the possibility of stimulating significant numbers of new members is there, and the more of us that are involved the more stimulation there is for Groups to join in.
Many people may say that their gardens are just not good enough; to which I would reply that it is the excitement you get from gardening that comes across, and it is the people who see this who we would wish to attract to our Groups. Gardening is not like the Show scene; it is good to grow plants well, but there may be other important interests in your life too, and this will be true of prospective new members too.
There are many different ways this could work. Our gardens could be advertised at the Shows by photographic displays. They could be written about in local papers and magazines. Having plants for sale is the biggest draw of all as most of us who are keen gardeners must admit. Most of all, despite reservations, members in our Group who have not opened before have found it very enjoyable to share their gardens with visitors who have similar strong interests in plants (and a good cup of tea and homemade cake go down well too).
I don't know if this likely to happen - I doubt it - but you never know!
A final note - one of the finest alpine gardens in the south belongs to Mike and Hazel Brett in Maidstone, who have regularly opened their garden for the NGS. Even though there is great interest in the garden no new members for our local Groups have been forthcoming. You could fairly say that opening our gardens is not very effective therefore. But the problem is that the whole image of the AGS as a 'Gardening' Society is very limited and so there is a lot to do to pull this back. This is only likely to happen if more is done across the Society in general, rather than just in limited areas, so that gardeners get to hear about Alpine Plants again.