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A garden conspiracy

TIn 1891 a movement started with the Ladies Garden Club of Athens, Georgia. By the end of the 1920s, two national garden organizations had sprung up. In the 60s and 70s, clubs across the continent gathered to promote a love of gardening and floral design, to protect natural beauty, to advance the study of horticulture and landscape design, and to beautify public spaces.

These days, economic pressures often mean that people who can find time to garden, may be wary of spending it in meetings. Still there are clubs in Ashby, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Harvard, and Groton. They all welcome members from other towns — in fact the president of the Groton club lives in Townsend. But a local group offers opportunities to join with neighbors.

In Townsend, we have the Free Plant Swap at the Earth Day Celebration on the common. Organized by Jock Snaith in 1993, it was a tradition until 1999, and this year will once again take place: Saturday, April 29, 2006, from 10 am to 2 pm. (rain date Sunday April 30th, 12 - 4).

(You don't have to live in Townsend to participate ... and you don't have to bring plants in order to take plants home. But if you do, pot and label them — with common or botanical names, plus whether they can get invasive. Bring contributions any time after 9 am; take your choices away after 10 am. Extra pots are available behind Town Hall. For more information call Jock at (978) 597-8310.)

Could we expand on this? At least let's make sure the spring Plant Swap keeps going! At most ... I want to spread the love of gardens, hook more people on this constructive passion, offer to everyone the satisfaction of nurturing living beauty. But I think it's important to start with simple plans. Another plant swap in the fall? Seed swapping?

We could visit interesting garden places together. Learn new garden skills. Gather in small groups to weed each other's gardens, enjoying conversation while we work. Fifth grade teacher Chris Barnacoat got a wonderful ornamental garden built at Squannacook Middle School, and a lot of people already help with, in spring and fall — but in August a little work there could be very satisfying.

What would be fun and easy? Dream with me how it could work; leave your name on the "Garden Conspiracy" signup sheet at the Earth Day Free Plant Swap, or contact me at

© Copyright 2006 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 21 April 2006

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