How to start a Garden Club

Promoting Gardening through Association

Select your interest:


Are you in need of helpful advice on one, many, or all aspects of gardening? Would you like to meet fellow garden enthusiasts? Join the club! Garden clubs, or horticultural societies, are found throughout the Province and are as varied in nature as the gardens that enhance the landscape and as unique as each individual who helps to shape them. If you do not yet enjoy the benefits of a club in your community, here are some easy guidelines for starting one. If you already belong to a club, you may find ideas for keeping it fresh and attracting new members. And, remember, the Nova Scotia Association of Garden Clubs (NSAGC) is ready to help!

Ideas on how to start a Garden Club

Determine Local Interest
Organize the Club
  • Once it has been decided to form a garden club, choose a name for the new group.
  • Establish a meeting place and standard date and time to meet, such as the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm.
  • Establish what the main focus of the group should be. Educating their own members and community involvement are two typical goals of garden clubs.
  • Establish an executive made up of at least a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
  • Set up a club bank account. There should be at least two signing officers and ideally three to cover vacations, etc. - the treasurer and another member or two, and not from the same family. There will be a nominal charge to set up the account and a charge for ordering cheques.
    Your District Director can provide sample letters to set up a club bank account and change signing authorities.
Club Committees

Garden clubs can have as few or as many committees as are needed to support their activities. Committees can consist of one member or many. Clubs can start off with just a few committees required to function and then add others as the need arises. The following are committees that clubs might consider putting in place.

Executive Committee – Is made up of the President, Past-President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and other committee chairs. This committee provides direction for the club.

Program Committee – Seeks out speakers for your meetings, arranges any equipment that the speaker might require and introduces and thanks the speakers. The Committee should do some long-term planning (up to one year in advance) to organize for specific guest speakers in order to ensure that the speakers you would like to have are available when you want them.

Refreshments/Social Committee – Looks after refreshments during the social part of the club meetings.

Membership Committee - Usually one person who signs up new members, maybe greets people at the door, gives out tickets for door prizes, has a sign-up sheet at the meetings to record attendance, collects the dues, and updates member information.

Members-At-Large Committee - Members who attend executive meetings and fill in when and where needed.

Plant Sale Committee – Organizes and runs plant sales, which clubs often put on to raise funds for their activities.

Garden Committee(s) – Organizes members to work in gardens that the club maintains.

Publicity Committee - Sends notices to the local newspapers and community papers to advertise information on upcoming meetings, speakers and events. This committee would also typically update the club Facebook page or web site and submit articles about club activities to the NSAGC newsletter.

Yearbook Committee - If the club keeps a yearbook, this committee would update it on a yearly basis and make sure that it is taken to the district meetings and NSAGC conventions.

Flower Show Committee - If the club hosts flower shows a committee is required to organize and run the show.

Special Events Committee – Could arrange for club bus tours, special workshops, or events your club wants to participate in like the NSAGC District Meeting.

Nominating Committee - Usually the past-president is responsible for finding replacements when members of the Executive Committee resign.

Club Meetings
  • A new garden club should consider focusing on gardening at the meetings. Most meetings consist of a short, informative business session followed by a social and the main feature/speaker.
  • Encourage attendance at meetings by offering door prizes, refreshments and interesting programs.
  • Take advantage of the group discounts offered at nurseries which are available through NSAGC membership. Organize bulk orders in the winter, a spring and fall bulb order, a spring order on garden supplies such as peat moss, soils, grass seed, etc., and occasional specialty bulk orders like grow mix, chrysanthemums or bedding plants.
  • Offer information on the activities of specialty groups (rose growers, Ikebana, organic growers) and circulate or distribute news of trips and conferences available to members.
  • Check out the NSAGC web site for links to other member garden clubs' web sites for ideas on how others club work and what they offer to their members.
  • Establish excellent speakers for club meetings that cover a wide range of topics and ensure that there is something for everyone over the course of the year. Excellent speakers can be found by contacting other clubs and the District Director for your club's area.
  • Expense or availability may prohibit having many speakers however videos, slide shows and films can fill the gap. Museums, the National Film Board, provincial ministries of food and agriculture, botanical gardens and individual club members have proven to be good sources.
  • Venture away from the norm from time to time and have a meeting in a park, visit a conservation area, arrange for a guided tour of a greenhouse or nursery. Tour each other's gardens and maybe follow with a club picnic in a park or local garden or beach area.
  • Dedicate a meeting to a Q&A session instead of having a speaker. This will give members an opportunity to share their knowledge and learn from one another.
Club Membership Fees

Optional Start-Up Activities

Memorandum of Association and By-laws
Registry of Joint Stock Companies

NSAGC is registered with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies, but it does not require that clubs be registered.

There are a few benefits to a club of being registered with Joint Stocks:

  • The club is able to "legally operate" with a legal status as a not-for-profit in the Province of Nova Scotia.
  • If a club wishes to apply for government funding without NSAGC involvement, often there is the requirement that the club be registered with Joint Stocks.

What is NSAGC?

NSAGC is the coordinating body for organized gardening groups in the province. It is made up of garden clubs and horticultural societies, as well as affiliate clubs, from all areas of Nova Scotia. Garden clubs and horticultural societies are groups with general garden interests. Affiliate clubs are specialty plant or garden groups. The main objective of the NSAGC is to promote the general landscape beautification of the Province of Nova Scotia, by promoting community beautification and encouraging the formation of horticultural groups (garden clubs) which will share interest in all phases of home gardening and ornamental horticulture in their areas.

The NSAGC is guided by an elected board of directors, whose members come from the different districts of Nova Scotia. The district representative, also known as the District Director, serves as the link between the individual clubs and the NSAGC board. The districts of the NSAGC are Cape Breton, Eastern, Central, Halifax, Valley, Western and the South Shore. Within each district, local clubs provide the outlet for budding gardeners, amateurs and professionals alike. There are over sixty local garden clubs, horticultural societies and affiliate clubs throughout the province.

The NSAGC is a registered organization under the Registry of Joint Stock Companies under the Province of Nova Scotia and has an approved Memorandum of Association and By-laws. The Memorandum of Association and By-laws define the objectives and structure of the Association. A copy of these documents is available from the Secretary of the NSAGC.

The Benefits of joining NSAGC

The advantages of joining NSAGC are many. The primary benefit is being able to meet with other garden clubs in the Province to exchange information and ideas. The NSAGC provides the following additional benefits to their membership:

Working together as a group, the Association is able to provide its members with:

  • Insurance coverage benefits for their club (3rd party liability $2 M)
  • Quarterly newsletters with:
    • Reports from garden clubs throughout the province
    • Information on events and activities
    • Articles of interest to gardeners in Nova Scotia
  • Reduced fee to attend the annual NSAGC Convention
  • Local nursery and garden retail discounts
  • Free plant each year
  • Opportunities to become involved not only in local clubs but also at the provincial level as a regional Director or member of the Association Executive

Keep your Club going!

  • Foster the sharing of interests and expertise. Members soon learn whom they can go to with a question about aphids or zucchinis, or who gardens indoors, who built a retaining wall, etc.
  • Information can be shared through a club newsletter, questions at meetings, a notice board, and talks or workshops by members on individual areas of expertise.
  • Gather information and resources. A list of local garden centers and places of interest would be appreciated by members. Make other resource lists such as field trip destinations, good speakers or gardening books available at the local library.
  • Share the workload. Take turns doing a big job, such as serving on the Executive Committee or chairing a Committee. Pitch in in little ways at other times (donate a door prize, bake for the social part of the meeting, stack the chairs, etc.).
  • Change the Executive. A club will go stale if the executive does not change regularly. Consider making the Executive positions two-year terms. As the Executive changes, it will be necessary to change the signing authorities on the bank account.
    Your District Director can provide sample letters to set up a club bank account and change signing authorities.
  • Have fun!!
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