Education of a Gardener

Primula marginata laciniata
Primula marginata laciniata

I cancelled my RHS membership this week, well I cancelled the renewal of it.  This hasn’t been an easy decision which is ridiculous given that it is just an annual subscription to something.

Just after having made the decision I read an article by Frank Ronan in a copy of Gardens Illustrated from 2008 which talked about whether membership of the RHS was necessary to be a good gardener.  In the article he captures all the things I had been musing about and questions whether the membership, about £50 for a single member, is worth it.  Like Frank I leave in the West Midlands, near the Welsh borders so I am at least 3 hours drive from any of the RHS gardens which means that to make any visit worthwhile an overnight stay is needed.  The monthly magazine, The Garden, is alright but there are far too many advertisements and it is trying to please all its members so there is a bit on vegetables, a bit on ornamentals, a bit on a gardening technique and quite a large section on events around the country.  The cover price for the magazine is £4.25 more than Gardens Illustrated which has similar content but it seems with less adverts.  I don’t feel that The Garden is worth £4.25.

I prefer the seed distribution schemes run by the Hardy Plant Society and Alpine Garden Society to the RHS’s.  I have used the RHS advice centre a couple of times, once getting no response at all.  Living where I do the London Shows and Chelsea are a 3.5 hour train journey each way and having been to Chelsea a couple of times I am no longer in a rush to go again – it’s too crowded and there is too much focus on the showgardens for me. A view shared by many keen gardeners I have met in this area.

I know the RHS is a charity and that it carries out research into horticulture etc and this is important but I’m not a charity and I can’t afford to pay for something which I don’t feel is adding anything to my life.  When I really got the gardening bug some 6-7 years ago I felt that I had to join the RHS, it was something that good gardeners did.  I also subscribed to the two main glossy gardening magazines – Gardens Illustrated and The English Garden.  However, after about 3 years I cancelled these subscriptions as the magazines had become repetitive, which in their defence is hardly surprising given the seasonal nature of gardening.  The pile of unread magazines had reached a ridiculous height and has only now been read through and disposed off – hence reading a 2008 edition  of GI.  As well as being repetitive the magazines no longer fulfilled my need for information and knowledge.

As I blogged about earlier this year I have now found and joined a number of specialist societies: The Alpine Garden Society, the Hardy Plant Society (including their Galanthus, Geranium and Ranunculus groups) and my localish horticultural society.  More importantly I have gone to the monthly meetings of the local groups and through these I have listened to fascinating talks about plants I had never heard of and met interesting and knowledgeable people who are happy to share their experience with someone who has realised how little she knows.  I have learnt more in the last 6 months than I have from 4 or 5 years membership of the RHS or reading the glossy magazines. Finally in the last month I have discovered the Scottish Rock Garden Society Forum which is fantastic – busy, friendly, international and not all about those tiny domes of plants people associate with alpines.

This is what works for me.  I think all of these resources, societies, magazines have their own place and all give something to gardeners.  When I  was on twitter I used to get tired of people moaning about Gardeners World dumming down etc but people forget that gardeners are a vast and varied group of people.  They all want something different.  Some are into growing edibles, some ornamental, some love plants, some design, some have acres and a gardener, some a window box.  To try to be everything to all gardeners only results in the offering being weakened and diluted.  I also know that in the UK we are very lucky to have the magazines and television programmes that we have and others in the US and Europe aren’t so lucky.

For me I have had my interest grabbed and held by the beautiful gardens in the magazines and the RHS has encouraged me with practical skills and to visit shows and gardens but now I have moved on to wanting to learn far more about particular plants than they can offer.  So I have  cancelled my RHS membership although I will continue with the Plantsman that I love.  I also get Hortus and the journals from the societies and when I need a sumptuous fix of beautiful gardens I will treat myself to one of the glossies.

I  feel like my horticultural education is really underway but there is an incredible amount to learn – it is very exciting.

38 Comments Add yours

  1. I must admit, I want to support all the fantastic gardeners working for the RHS- so I am happy to pay the membership fee. There’s a lot of talented people there, and I support what they are doing. We also take the opportunity to visit the partner gardens, which are wide spread- so it’s not just entry to the main RHS gardens. For me, it’s good value for money- and the magazine is a bonus. So all in all, I am enjoying my RHS membership and intend to continue. But, I will look at the other societies you mention which look interesting. So thanks for sharing those details.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Karen
      I know what you mean about supporting people at the RHS and its one of the things I deliberated about. However my subscriptions to the other groups also support people and I prefer to visit local gardens and support them. I am also not 100% if partner gardens get anything from the RHS for being a partner garden. So if like me you are visiting on your own and get free entry as a member of the RHS the garden owners do not benefit at all except from any plants etc you may buy. I could be wrong though it was just something I was told but it did make me think and I always pay the entry charge rather than use my RHS card

  2. jane says:

    Dear Helen,
    What an interesting post. My passion for gardening is also fairly recent ( 3YRS)and I have recently been thinking about joining the RHS. Your post has helped me decide not to join—- thanks. Iam fairly near you ( Welsh Borders) so nowhere near a RHS property, the Malvern show is my nearest and everyone I speak to seems to think it’s better to watch Chelsea on TV !
    Best wishes

  3. Frances Blackhurst says:

    Congratulations on your web site ; full of interest. Re the above. Here in Shrewsbury we have a flourishing NCCPG who meet every second Thursday 19.30hrs at Shire Hall. There is also the Cottage Garden Society who meet monthly. I seldom read daily newspapers or any magazines but am an avid on line follower of Robin Lane Fox each Saturday in the FT and Dan Pearson on Sundays in the Observer. btw Malvern Spring Show IS better than Chelsea – IMHO! Chelsea is just too big, ditto Hampton Court.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Frances
      I read Robin Lane Fox as well. Shrewsbury is a bit of a trek for me of an evening after a tiring day at work but I know the local NCCPG meet in Pershore. I was thinking of joining but am currently finding 3 groups give me enough horticultural input in a month.

  4. Pauline says:

    I joined the RHS many,many years ago when my daughter moved to Essex and Wisley was very conveniently half way, also of course Hyde Hall was nearby in Essex. We are in Devon on the SE coast but it takes well over 1 1/2 hours to get to Rosemoor on the north coast. Our daughter has now moved but our son lives in London so visits to Wisley still continue. We managed to pop into Harlow Carr when on holiday, going to Scotland, all the gardens are really well worth visiting, I always learn something new when we go. Having twice been to Hampton Court and once to the Malvern show, I think I’m getting too old now for these Flower Shows and will leave them to younger people!! All my gardening magazines fill a purpose, including The Garden and I think I can say that I feel my subscription is well worth it.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Pauline
      You are lucky to be able to visit the RHS gardens en route to other places. I am hoping to go to RHS Rosemoor this summer when we go to Cornwall and I would love to see Harlow Carr but I am happy to pay the full entry for these one off visits instead of a year’s subscription. I ended up doing the same with the National Trust

  5. Sandra Jonas says:

    Well said Helen, these memberships do not benefit those of us that live too far to take advantage of all that is offered with them.
    I live in the USA and when I lived close to The Arnold Arboretum in Boston, I was able to attend several lectures and plant identification walks weekly. Now I live too far from what is offered, so like you I have joined smaller groups that are local. Good move on both our parts I feel.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Sandra
      There are some great lectures in Oxford organised by the Oxford Botanic Garden which I would love to go to but they are in the evening and its a good hour and a half drive down country roads and the last train leaves before the lectures end so I have finally given up on that idea. Despite having lived in this area since 2000 I have only just discovered some of the groups I go to and they have equally good lectures and for a fraction of the cost.

  6. Hi Helen, well if you put it like this the RHS magazine isn’t worth it, but it’s more about supporting a good cause, I guess. I’m also a bit tired of going to the big shows as it’s such a craze about designer gardens which so often look very artificial not to mention plant communities that would never work in reality. If you’re looking for a good read try Hortus. I think it’s great and very different.
    Happy Easter!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Annette
      I do get Hortus which I really enjoy. I know that being a member of the RHS is more than just getting the magazine but I have decided to support some of the smaller charities and local gardens instead

  7. compostwoman says:

    Hi Helen, I live nearish to you and I have never joined the RHS – although I do consider my self a good gardener 🙂 – for much the same reasons as you have now given up subscribing

    I have only ever been a member of Garden Organic – imo a generally more interesting magazine, Heritage Seed Library and discount on stuff in The Organic Gardening Catalogue, really helpful staff to give advice and online members area full of useful stuff and of course access to Ryton which is wonderful to inspire all sorts of different forms of gardens. And its a charity and does a lot of sterling work. And it does not cost £50!

    I don’t know if you are a member as well – maybe you are?


  8. Cathy says:

    What lovely leaves that primula has! Your post was a really thoughtful discussion and the range of comments clearly indicate that our gardening needs are met by different publications at different times in our lives. Having only just rejoined the RHS I have an open mind at the moment but I found myself being a little irked this month by the thin paper it was written on (how daft is that?)!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      I did smile at your comment about the paper quality. I think we are so used to glossy magazines these days. I know the University where I work uses recycled paper for its prospetus and it has a rough quality which caused a few raised eyebrows when it was first changed but now some years later no one seems to notice

    2. Cathy says:

      😉 yes, I did wonder as I wrote that if it was recycled paper and as very responsible recycler I know I should turn a blind eye to the paper quality. You are quite right about us being so used to glossy magazines although it was the thin-ness of the paper that I found off-putting rather than any greyness – it soon looked as if I had dropped it in the bath! Thanks for tweaking my conscience 🙂

  9. rogerbrook says:

    Very thoughtful Helen. I think the magazine does have a difficulty being all things to all men-as does TV and GQT. The dumbing down bothers me too although it is important to appeal to the wider public. i cancelled my RHS membership some years ago now. Now I have got into blogging myself I am finding I learn quite a lot from the internet and other folks blogs!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Roger
      It is amazing how much you can pick up and learn from blogs. I have come across so many interesting plants as well. I know some of the experts dont like gardening blogs as they question the expertise of the information given but I work on the basis that if something has worked for someone else then thats good enough for me.

  10. Anna says:

    A most thoughtful post Helen. I must admit that I have considered not renewing my RHS membership but have not taken that step yet. Initially himself treated me to a gift subscription one Christmas and I’ve just carried on renewing it. Like you I’m some distance from any of the RHS gardens and a non driver to boot. I have vague recollections of there being talk of establishing a new RHS garden in a northern city but nothing seems to have transpired yet. I can’t get that excited reading about events that I am unable to attend and think that section of ‘The Garden’ could be on the website thus freeing more magazine space. I am also an HPS member and have got a lot from belonging to the society especially when I was able to attend the local branch meetings. I’ve also been a member of some specialist groups too and have attended great study days in the past. Despite having more time on my hands now that I’m not working I still have a backlog of gardening magazines which I never seem to clear. At the moment I think that I will cut down on these rather than give up my RHS membership. The latter may well happen though at some point in the future especially as it is now quite expensive.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I have finally got rid of my backlog but I suspect the bad weather may have assisted with that. There was something about an RHS garden in the north a while ago but nothing more has been said. I think if there was a garden within an easy distance I would join and visit frequently.

  11. Elena says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while and as a Christmas gift have received RHS membership. Unfortunately I cannot even dream of using the garden visiting part of it, as I live in USA. However, I am thoroughly enjoying the magazine as I am new to gardening and feel that it offers a bit more expertise than the magazines usually available here. I also love reading your blog and learn a lot there too. I’ll consider what to do next Christmas I suppose, but for now just wanted to say how much I enjoy my daily visits in your “virtual” garden.

  12. Couldn’t agree with you more about the RHS, Helen. I had a little problem with them in January. I had filled out my seed request (which takes a long time, as you know) and added my replacement list. In January they sent me seed packets made up from duplicates of my first choices (nothing from the replacement list).
    I left it and then I got cross in February (when I was sowing seed).
    My situation is worse than yours – as a foreign member I get nothing except ‘The Garden’ and the seed list seeds for my membership. I have been a member since 1986. Back then it used to be the most important hort mag in the UK because anybody who ‘was anybody’ (ie had anything interesting to say) wrote for it.
    Reading the previous comments you have had, I would say that the paper quality is neither here nor there; we are in a financial crisis, obviously anybody who cares about getting a message across is going to use cheaper paper. Sorry, I still believe in paper. It is always the quality of the words that count, and that’s why we use cheaper paper to print them if we believe in them. But how much do these words on paper inspire me to get ‘out there in my garden’, because I now have a vision of something that otherwise I might not have created? And how much was that vision was inspired by ‘The Garden’?
    You may not believe it now, but there was so much in ‘The Garden’ in the 1980s and 1990s that was inspiring! And actually, very, very, occasionally, I still am inspired by ‘The Garden’. So it is hard for me to ‘let go’.
    Anyway in February (when I was sowing my HPS and RHS seed) I got cross and I rang and complained. Yes, I was angry and I had a rant about how useless the magazine was ( I think I even said it was fairly cheap as an unprescribed sleeping tablet at £46 odd a year). Unfortunately I also admitted that the March issue was quite good (and it was; I was jolted out of my sleep and this rather stole my thunder). They promised to send me three more seed packets to replace the ones they had duplicated.
    I have received absolutely nothing from them and I now wish, as an ex-Kew student, that I had not spent all those hours actually carrying plates full of fruit/flowers/branches round for the observation of all the examining committtess at the RHS. This task is (probably) still carried out by either Kew or Wisley students. In the 1980s, I think that I demonstrated more than the average loyalty to the ‘mother institution’, but its failure, in 2013, to provide me with 20 packets of seed that are different has been difficult to swallow.
    In defense of the RHS I’d say that it’s hard to make an organisation like that work commercially today. When I was closing my complaint in February, I did mention that I was not one of those wealthy ex-pats who could afford to finance the RHS as a charity. And actually, that’s how it all began? With the wealthy – think of those dishes of fruit/camellia flowers, whatever, coming from Cornwall, etc. Perhaps the RHS has had its day? Or does it need new patrons and a better understanding, on the part of its members, of what truly makes a great garden (we’re talking money, lots of us have imagination!).
    All best Helen – you are very good at quarrelsome subjects!

  13. Diana Studer says:

    there was my favourite corner of the Kirstenbosch Conservatory dedicated to alpines (yes, we do have some of our own). Was disconcerted to discover that corner is now for Namibian Welwitschia. The alpines will reappear in a new home, but are currently withdrawn from public view in the horticultural greenhouses. Our Veld and Flora magazine is quarterly – the only gardening magazine I get, and still the internet keeps me from paper reading.

  14. Very interesting post. I have kept up my membership in the American Horticultural Society, even though I don’t participate in any of their activities, which are not close enough in any case. The AHS dues are more modest than RHS, and I find the magazine worth reading, if not outstanding. On the other hand, I don’t belong to any of the specialty societies except for one devoted to North American native plants. I have dropped a couple of my garden magazine subscriptions. In addition to the AHS magazine, I get Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. I suppose I pay dues to AHS because I think such an organization should exist, and so I make my small contribution.

  15. Yvonne Ryan says:

    I still get NZ Gardener after a short break. It has been really jazzed up and they have vg contributors. I have stopped 3 monthly magazines (not specifically garden as quite expensive and so much advertising. One NEXT was always for NZ Women about NZ Women but they now have articles about women all over. Not very inspirational at times. What really hacked me off was when they had Tom Cruise as a guy to look up to! Fair Go – we have so many great guys here we certainly don’t need that nutter! If you really want them you can get them from the library. We have some really good foodie mags but then again the ‘cents’ mount up and if you go over your old ones not really necessary. I will join the local Garden Club when I shift in May and get to know some locals and their gardens. Hope it is warming up for you. We finally had a couple of hours of nice gentle rain. A longer shower tonight? Tank water so very low – one load bought in. The tankers are still trundling past. A good year for them! Also the dry has produced great grapes for our wine harvest – so good for some!

  16. annannstar says:

    hi, I too left the RHS due to distance & disappointment; little input to the NorthWest; lack of horticultural talks/Q&A at the Tatton show on Ladies day, their lecture theatre was given over to fashion & cookery. (did not know it was Ladies Day when tickets were booked)
    Have you looked at Which? Gardening magazine? Comparisons of composts, fertilizers, equipment & plants; really useful when choosing veg seeds. Tests carried out in south & Scotland. Article on designing a bed for max impact all year round this month; last month one on making best use of a greenhouse. Bob Brown from Cotswold garden flowers is regular contributor. regular phone-in query days. You can tell I’m hooked.
    best wishes for Easter!

  17. Hi Helen, an interesting and thought provoking post, you’ve given me a lot to think about really.

    About a year ago I used up some of my Tesco Club card Points to subscribe to BBC Gardeners World Magazine, a short while later I used up more points on a year’s subscription to the RHS. Now both are up for renewal, I have been musing for a while whether to re-subscribe to both as finances are getting really tight. I find I only really use Gardeners World Mag for the discount codes that they give out in the subscriber only issues, so the result is I tend to spend on plug plants.

    Whilst perusing twitter recently, a post by Sarah Wilson@swilson09 , regarding Gardeners World Magazine, really hit home, she posted “ Don’t know why they don’t drop all reference to horticulture & just publish a flip-book of kittens chasing feathers .”
    I thought she was absolutely right, I tend to flick through the Magazine and then never pick it up again, So I’ve decided not to re-new.
    I’ve worked out how far my nearest RHS garden is, I have Wisley at 116 miles to the South and Harlow Carr 114 miles to the North, so I’m in a similar boat to you regarding distances to travel.
    I have used my membership to get discounts on RHS affiliated shows, such as Malvern, but it’s usually only a couple of quid off.
    I have also recently joined up with the Hardy Plant Society and enjoy their newsletters, unfortunately they don’t have a local group in Leicestershire, the nearest is in Rutland at 30 miles away, another in Nottingham and another in Northampton… all a bit far for weekday talks.
    I’ve also discovered that the NCCPG don’t have a local group anymore, again Nottingham has the nearest local group, so it appears the Alpine Garden Society for now, will be the group I’m staying with, certainly for talks, although 2 have already been cancelled this year due to horrid weather conditions.
    It appears I live in a Horticultural wilderness living in Leicestershire.

    And as I quite like the RHS Magazine, The Garden, I may re-new….. just for 1 more year…..Perhaps.

    All the best.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi CG
      I think I am further than you from RHS gardens as its a 3.5 hr trip each way! The HPS I go to is 20 miles away but it is an exceptionally good one as people come from as far as the Black Mountains, Forest of Dean, Leominster so I am almost local!
      I have decided to buy the glossies when I spot something that interests me as opposed to subscribing

  18. blackmorephotographyJames says:

    I cancelled my subscription the the RHS many years ago, opting instead to read ‘The Plantsman’ magazine as that seems to cater for the more ‘planty’ type readership. Plus I like the articles about the origins of plants/travelogues and new introductions….

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi blackmore
      I love the Plantsman really my sort of magazine and I also read Hortus which is very good

  19. While I was unemployed my membership of the Danish equivalent of the RHS expired and I was really at a loss about what to do; it seemed such an extravagance to pay the DKK 575 (£65) for those 12 copies of their magazine, considering that I’ve never visited their garden (a mile from where I live…) or any of their events. However, in the end I decided to renew it, not because of what they give to me personally but because I find them to be a lobby organisation that works for something I really believe in.

    Over the past couple of years, flooding has become increasingly frequent in various areas in Denmark, especially in built-up areas – possibly a result of climate change, though of course that’s hard to prove – and on July 2nd 2011 Copenhagen received 150mm of rain within two hours, causing (minor) flooding in the city centre as well as in the suburbs, resulting in damage estimated at several billions of Danish Kroner. There are two ways to go about handling this: We can either increase sewer capacity in built-up areas at a cost of billions of pounds or we can try to change our cities so clean rain water will not be mixed with sewage and cause an overflow of raw sewage into our waterways and seas. The Danish Garden Association is the prime advocate of using private property as a means of changing this, encouraging rain gardens, green roofs, sunken over-flow areas in public green spaces etc. as a solution to this problem that would not only prevent pollution but would also allow clean rain water to seep down into the ground to replenish our decreasing supply of clean drinking water.

    That is enough of a reason for me to spend money on them, and their glossy magazine is just an added bonus for me. I don’t know what the RHS’s profile is in terms of environmenta lobbyism, but it seems to be less able to make an impact on public discussions about these issues, even though flooding is arguably an even larger concern in the UK, especially in the South.

    (And on a completely irrational level: My grandmother was on the regional board for the Danish Garden Association and I always loved reading their magazine when I visited my grandparents as a child. There’s a certain comfort-factor that is probably not negligeable and it certainly also played some part in my original decision to join when I acquired a garden and my subsequent decision to renew the membership. But I really ought to visit their garden some time this summer.)

  20. Christina says:

    I feel my membership is well worth while, and I live in Italy. There are so many gardens that you can visit that are free to members not just RHS gardens. I also feel my membership helps with all the good work they do! The award of garden merit helps everyone decide n the best varieties so saves money by not buying a plant that won’t ‘do’. As a charity I think they deserve the support of all serious gardeners who can afford the membership fee. You provoked quite a response to your post, it’s a shame you dissuaded some people from joining. Christina

  21. Hannah says:

    Very informative, thank you very much for being so candid about your personal experiences. I think you’re right about there being lots to learn about gardening, but that’s true whether you’re an expert or an amateur and helps make gardening so eternally interesting!

  22. Alison says:

    Hi Helen

    What a great post, I loved reading it. I have been a member of the RHS for over 10 years now and I agree, the magazine alone is not enough to warrent the membership, I do tend to think of it as free but I do enjoy reading it. I don’t really quibble at adverts, they are necessary to fund the magazine and sometimes I see things of interest in them.

    I am also a bit of a distance from the RHS gardens but I visit when I can. Again, I do not really count these as a reason why I am a member, they are a bonus.

    I am a member definitely so that I can get member’s rates and days at Chelsea Flower Show and some of the other shows. I love the show gardens at Chelsea and would not go for any other reason – oh, well apart from the obligatory jug of Pimms and a rather nice lunch. I don’t always like the show gardens and some years are better than others, but I always come away with lots to think about.

    I have recently been happier with my membership than previously, I am totally in favour of the community and School work that they are promoting, I am very happy for my money to go towards this type of project. When I first joined the RHS I did not really like it very much, I thought it for old people, I thought it too rigid in how it talked about plants and, quite frankly, a bit too up itself in general. I have softened my views since then (probably helped by me now being 10 years older!) I do understand your reasons for leaving and it is always each to their own. What I do really like is this post as it is something to think about and it has made me think about why I am a member – so thank you.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Alison
      It was not my intention to disuade people from joining the RHS, I was just discussing my own reasons for cancelling my membership and how my interests have gone off in a more plant orientated way. I still get the Plantsman and instead of my subscription to the RHS I have joined a number of smaller specialist groups and will be visiting more local gardens and nurseries which I think need support. I’m glad you found the post interesting, it certainly prompted a lot of responses

  23. jgp says:

    Hi Helen, really interesting post. I read it a couple of days ago and have been mulling over your points. I’ve recently cancelled my subscription to Gardens Illustrated. I think it is a lovely magazine, but after 3 years am finding it a bit repetitive and I do find I want more in-depth and technical information about plants and gardening than it provides. I have been thinking about whether to remain a member of the RHS. Until recently I lived in Oxford and wasn’t near either any of the RHS gardens, or many gardens open to RHS members. However, now I’ve moved to Sheffield and am closer to Harlow Carr. So for the moment I have decided that as I’m closer to an RHS garden, and as I still find ‘The Garden’ interesting and I enjoy the free visits to other gardens, to stick with my membership. I am going to evaluate my membership more carefully over the next year and decide if it is still worth continuing. For the price, I do need to feel I’m getting my moneys worth. I cannot afford to be alturistic to just like ‘supporting the RHS’ unless it is worthwhile! Following your comments, I’m going to look at The Plantsman & Hortus and see if these might suit my interests.

    In the meantime, you have encouraged me to join the Hardy Plant Society. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and this, plus other recent blogs you’ve written, suggest I might get to learn quite a bit from the talks and people who attend them. So I’m sending off my application today! I’ve discovered there is a South Pennines group in Sheffield, so will start going along to their meetings once my membership starts.

    Thanks for such a thought-provoking blog, and for the inspiration.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Gwen
      I am glad you found the post thought provoking. I think you will enjoy the HPS and at my local group you dont have to be a member to start attending. Their seed distribution scheme is good as well. I would love to visit Harlow Carr and as there are other gardens ‘up north’ I might plan a trip next year to take them all in
      Hope you enjoy your HPS subscription


  24. I think your reasoning is sound Helen, I think if I lived nearer at least one RHS garden I would find the money, but without that, I just can’t afford to contribute without feeling I am getting anything back. I think we all evolve as gardeners, and our needs evolve too, I used to love and value Gardener’s World Magazine, but no longer find any value in it, whereas I am currently finding Gardens Illustrated inspiring. I am sure this will change too. Sounds to me as if you have a found the perfect mix of journals and groups to inspire you as a gardener in your current incarnation.

  25. How refreshingly honest and helpful. Its a really personal choice as to what group you chose to belong to and quite rightly so. I am a returning RHS member, having cancelled my subscription some years ago, when something had to give. Now, it actually focuses me on gardens I would like to take my mum too. Like you we do not live locally to any of the main gardens and our nearest partner garden at Woburn, I would visit anyway as I love the wildflower areas and bio-diversity work within the trees of the main garden. Supporting local and specialist societies is probably more important than ever now. I don’t think any magazine or website can replace specialist knowledge and talks. Looking forward to reading your blog more.

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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