1. If you like to learn: Join your local horticultural society or garden club to tap into the experience of other members and guest speakers, and get free advice from the group's newsletters.
2. If you like to save money: Many local groups have negotiated discounts at nearby garden centres, or get together and mail-order in bulk to receive reduced prices – and let's not forget about the traditional annual plant sale, a multi-bloomed bonus. First, you get plants at a great price. Second, the plants are from gardens in the area, so you know they're hardy. Finally, the profits usually support local projects.
3. If you like to volunteer: Communities in Bloom is a nonprofit organization that works with local volunteers to foster beautification, environmental awareness, urban forestry and landscaping, and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage in municipalities across Canada.
4. If you like to give while you get: Master Gardener Programs, offered by accredited institutions (some even have junior programs for kids), cover all the gardening basics and combine a volunteer component. Google "master gardener" to find a program near you.
5. If you live in a city: For a nominal fee, community gardens lend you a plot to cultivate within a communal space, where you and the other gardeners can trade gardening tips as well as the odd tomato or potato.
6. If you live in a big city: Arboretums and botanical gardens offer memberships – and a membership lets you plug into special events, speakers series, mentoring programs and volunteer opportunities, as well as simply getting inspired. So don't just get out into your yard – get involved in the big, wide world of gardening.
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This story was originally titled "Garden Clubs and Groupies" in the August 2008 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!
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