Committees have refocused their attention and efforts on exploring, educating, and supporting the NGC community on their area of expertise. This focus has provided a new structure for committees and projects, streamlining many former initiatives under new umbrellas.
In the past, community gardens have solved economic or environmental need-based problems in our country. Today, we utilize community gardens for different, yet equally important reasons. While the Americans who lived through the eras of the Great Depression and the World Wars harvested their own produce as a means to survive, city dwellers in the 1970s revitalized the trend as a response to urban abandonment and an aspiration to forge neighborly relationships. This version of community gardens more closely resembles the gardens that one can find all across America today.
A community garden can take many forms. On the surface, it's a food source. But, deeper than that, it's a gathering place for people with shared interests and passions. Some gardens have individual and assigned plots, while others are communal, where everyone shares the labor and the fruits that will come from it (quite literally). They can be established for specific purposes, like food pantries or youth education, while others have a more generic purpose: providing food and strengthening community ties.
Beginning a community garden takes careful planning and time. First, reach out to community organizations and see if there is wide interest in gardening. Research potential sponsors to help cover the cost of gardening supplies and rent, if needed. When location scouting, try to find a spot that will accommodate the garden for the long term. The longer the garden is around, the more time there is to establish a community around it. Make sure the spot has good sun exposure and water access. Finally, start organizing. Will the garden have assigned plots? Will certain roles be assigned to certain garden members? When designing the garden, don't forget to leave space for a compost pile and designated tool area. If you really want to rally around the community aspect of your garden, consider sending out a newsletter to keep all the club members updated. Don't forget-- you can't do it alone! Don't be afraid to draw in help!
For more information, contact:
Bette Fields, Chairman: Community Gardens
Container Gardening is one of the fastest growing segments of gardening. Containers can be used where traditional gardens are not practical, including apartment balconies, rooftops, decks, courtyards, patios and in areas with poor soil. It is an ideal gardening solution for people in townhomes or patio homes, those in rental locations, assisted living homes where residents may have limited mobility, or those with limited time to care for a large landscape area.
Container Gardening is a perfect activity for beginning gardeners who may be intimidated by large landscape projects. Container gardening is also a great solution for advanced gardeners for showcasing plants or gardening skills.
Container Gardening can be much more than beautiful flowers in pots at an entryway or patio. More people are discovering that they can grow herbs, fruits and vegetables in containers, thus feeding their families healthy food and having produce to share. Growing vegetable and ornamental flowers together provides additional beauty and practicality and is trending. In today’s market, there is a plethora of pots available - from inexpensive and recycled plastic buckets and wooden pallets, to more expensive wood or pottery pieces, which come in an abundance of sizes, shapes, and colors. There are also many commercially available specialty containers for balcony railings, tiered gardens and vertical gardens.
For Container Gardening information, feel free to contact:
Debi Harrington, Chairman: Container Gardening
Debi’s Favorite Books on Container Gardening:
- The Container Expert by D. G. Hessayon (1995 Edition)
- Bountiful Container by McGee and Stuckey
- R.H.S. The Urban Gardener by Matt James
- Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible by Edward C. Smith
In May 1999, a partnership was formed between National Garden Clubs, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity. HFH's mission is to eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth. NGC's goal is to encourage local garden clubs to share their expertise in gardening and landscaping with the owners of Habitat homes. In some cases, local businesses will provide materials to encourage beautification of the properties. In a recent example, the Florida Federation of Garden Club members successfully had graduates of NGC Schools teach a landscaping maintenance seminar to 18 new Habitat for Humanity homeowners. Ames tools, an NGC corporate partner, provided a hose and hose reel for each homeowner.
Habitat for Humanity Garden’s philosophy is that no commitment, physical or monetary, is too small. All endeavors and contributions will be gratefully acknowledged. State chairmen, please contact the Habitat for Humanity Chairman and share fun facts and stories. We hope to build a nationwide community through social media with this project.
A direct line of communication has been put in place for one-on-one networking between HFH Affiliates and garden club representatives. The more than 1,500 HFH Affiliates have been made aware of the NGC and HFH partnership.
The program's emphasis is on enhancing the environment by landscaping HFH homes with hearty native trees, shrubs, plants, and flowers that also attract butterflies. It is the hope of NGC to have the community, both adult and young gardeners, involved in this very worthy project. NGC's goal is 100% state participation, in some manner, across the nation.
For more information, contact:
Nancy Bahn, Chairman: Habitat for Humanity Gardens 2019-2021
Healing gardens are spaces to promote recovery from illness, to provide an improvement in overall well‐being. These gardens incorporate both the physical and spiritual. This is nothing new. Gardens have been used from ancient times as a place for healing. Now, in the last few years, gardens are being planted at hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices because patients tend to recover faster and require less medication.
Gardens are being planted at schools to allow students with disabilities to socialize with their typically functioning peers. Sensory gardens have a variety of plants that engage the five senses and goes beyond that. With physical limitations in mind, gardens can be designed to help improve motor skills and allow disabled children to play with their peers.
Some gardens are planted to honor persons whose lives have been touched by a specific illness, promoting awareness, and providing information on prevention, detection, and treatments. Other gardens have been planted to provide healing of the heart. The actual planting and caring for the garden by a grieving parent can comfort in a special way, honoring the child while reflecting on happy memories…and hope for a future day.
For more information, or to submit photos and project descriptions, contact:
Carcille C. Burchette,
Chairman: Healing Gardens for Hope and Awareness
Gardening does not have to just be a summertime activity. With a little preparation, you can enjoy fresh herbs and produce throughout the year! Whether you plan on having an indoor garden for the duration of the winter, or you're just looking to get a head start before your transplant your sprouts outdoors, having an indoor garden is easy and offers plenty of benefits.
When planning your indoor garden, make sure you choose your seeds wisely. Seeds that thrive with artificial light include lettuce, spinach, carrots, and herbs. Keep in mind that herbs are slow growers; you may want to start off with an established plant rather than seeds.
Collect all your equipment. You will want grow lights, pots or containers, soil, fertilizer, and seeds.
You can establish your own grow light system with wire shelving, shop lights, fluorescent light tubes, and a power strip with a timer. You can also purchase a pre-constructed lighting system. Be sure to set up your grow lights in a cool location to get the most out of your harvest.
Consider growing out of recycled materials like egg cartons, folded newspaper, or paper cups-- it works, and you will be doing a little extra to help the environment. Consider that the depth of your container depends on what you are growing. Greens typically only need about four inches, while carrots will need six inches or more.
Make sure your soil and fertilizer are organic-- you will be eating those little seeds later.
An indoor garden can improve your health in several ways. Plants clean the air of toxins, thus reducing the risk of headaches and respiratory problems. In addition, you can eat your food with confidence, even throughout the winter, knowing that it is free of pesticides or other harmful chemicals.
For more information, contact:
Carol Vallens, Chairman: Gardening Indoors
Gardens can provide treatment for those struggling with physical or mental illnesses or ailments. Gardening is proven to reduce stress, and can help alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. Seeing the fruits of one's efforts through gardening can help a person gain confidence and a sense of purpose.
While healing gardens provide a quiet reflective space, therapy gardens are designed to promote action. They encourage people to do the work of gardening as a form of therapy or treatment. Doing so provides opportunities for exercise and mental stimulation. A therapy garden can stand alone as a healing method, or it can be a supplement to more traditional medicinal practices. A garden can be therapeutic for anyone, but a therapy garden is designed to help people with specific disabilities or illnesses.
The National Garden Club seeks to reach out to nursing homes, assisted living centers, veterans’ hospitals, children's homes, and rehabilitation centers to help promote therapy gardening programs. We encourage clubs and councils to take on projects in their area where they can be advisors and planners for such groups and assist in any way. We hope this this will help children and adults develop skills and improve their social, psychological, and physical wellbeing through gardening activities.
For more information, contact:
Peggy Tucker, Chairman: Therapy Gardening
The goal of the Roadside Planting Committee is to provide gardening information to help educate our members and the public through any or all the NGC publications, through social media, and through examples of completed or in progress projects. We hope to inspire gardeners to start new projects, as well!
Have you ever awed over plants you have seen, especially along the roadsides? These colorful displays in roadway mediums, at major intersections, and along our highways make the drive so much more pleasant! Not only do these gardens make for a more enjoyable drive, they attract customers to local businesses and impress out-of-town visitors. It makes a beautiful difference!
NGC encourages garden clubs across America to establish and participate in roadside plantings. Find a corner, a church, a post office, entrance to a shopping area, or a roadside and make a statement. Add signage with the sponsoring club's name. Advertising does not hurt and may draw in new members!
Look into grants to help fund roadside gardens and public plantings. Many state governments provide funding for projects that help beautify highways or other public areas.
Funding is also available for Blue and Gold Star Memorials. It is a wonderful way for garden clubs to honor the men and women who served our country in the military.
Take the initiative and create a beautiful public garden!
For more information, or to submit pictures, contact:
Mary Jacobs, Chairman: Roadside/Public Plantings
Homeowners cultivate food for their family or processes and distributes surplus food to their neighbors or food banks. Growing their own fruit, vegetables and herbs is an increasingly popular activity for city dwellers as well. These gardens give more control over their sources of food and how it is handled. They are less dependent on packaged and processed food from grocery stores.
The new revolution of organic, fresh food on a larger scale has evolved in the term Urban Homesteading/Farms. Some raise chickens for meat or fresh eggs and to control insect problems, bees for honey and pollinating crops, and small livestock in their yards. Whether you live in a subdivision or not, be sure to check with your local extension service or government agency, especially if you plan to raise chickens, bees or livestock along with gardening.
Lawns are being turned into gardens, eliminating mowing, watering, harmful pesticides and excessive fertilizing. Organic compost, fertilizers and pesticides are gaining interest at nurseries and big box stores, along with the use of collected rain or gray water and taking advantage of solar and wind energy.
Apartment and condo residents, with no yard to garden in, have turned to Balcony Gardening, using everything from antique water tubs to modern colorful planters. Patio tomatoes are easy to grow in containers. A small trellis could support vines of beans, cucumbers, and melons for example. Clean five-gallon buckets can be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes and can be a great place to introduce a child to gardening such as starting a lasagna or spaghetti garden. Be sure to drill a few holes in the bottom of the bucket for drainage before filling it with potting or garden soil.
Rooftop Gardening on apartments or condos with a flat roof can be an oasis with small fruit trees and berry bushes where you can grow vegetables, herbs and some flowers while raising bees for honey as well as pollinating plants and trees. An outdoor Vertical Wall of succulents and small plants are easy to maintain and adds drama to a rooftop or a patio. Check the internet for photographs and ideas.
Small Backyard Gardens using raised beds or square foot gardening is a great way to meet your neighbors and share your excess vegetables or herbs and maybe to start a new garden club. Many vegetables can be grown in just one raised bed using the square foot method. An elevated gardening bed on wheels can be on a patio and moved with the sun. They can be most helpful for our disabled seniors to grow their favorite vegetables or flowers with no bending.
- Urban Farming Website
- Urban Homestead Website
- Be sure to keep an eye out for resources at your local library as well.
- All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition by Mel Bartholonew
- Beginners Backyard Chickens by Jim Filpatrick
- Keeping Chickens by Abigail R. Gehring
- The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell
- The Urban Farm Handbook: City Slickers by Annette Cottrell
- Urban Gardening by Will Cook
- Vertical Gardening: The Beginner’s Guide by Olivia Abby
For more information, contact:
Fran Stueck, Chairman: Urban Gardening
A beautiful, sustainable garden requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Xeric landscapes aim to be mindful of water conservation with careful planning and utilization of every drop of water. While xeriscape gardening relies heavily on the gardener's personal style and artistry choices, they can still serve a more basic purpose if the gardener makes smart choices.
Xeriscape gardens are mostly planted in arid areas, typically the southwest, to conserve water. However, that does not mean that is the only place one can find them.
The most important part of xeriscaping is being water conscious. Take care to grade soil so that water runoff is led towards plants, rather than a sidewalk, street, or home. Rainwater should also be conserved in decorative barrels-- it is free water, so take advantage. While it is difficult to start a xeriscape garden without a drip irrigation system, it can be watered by hand with careful maintenance and attention.
Picking appropriate plants is also essential, but the selection is not limited only to cacti and succulents. Many herbs, like lavender, oregano, thyme, and rosemary, can thrive in xeriscape gardens. Try to plant trees to shade other plants, especially if the garden is in an arid climate.
Replacing a lawn with gravel or other stone not only saves water, but it also opens style and creative opportunities. Decor can become the focal point of a xeric garden due to cutting back on green space, offering the gardener to add more personality than a typical garden.
It is common to find xeriscape gardens in the southwestern area of the United States, but that is not the only place they can thrive! NGC encourages its members to send in photos or xeriscape gardens, no matter where it is located.
Explore plantselect.org a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and horticultures from around the world for more information about xeriscape.
For more information, contact:
Beverly Heidelberger, Chairman: Xeriscape Gardening
The term “wildlife” traditionally referred to non-domesticated animal species. Today, the definition for “wildlife” has come to include “all plants, fungi and other organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans."
As gardeners, we not only have the obligation to ourselves to have a beautiful yard and garden that our friends and neighbors love to visit, but we also have an obligation to our "wildlife" to protect their environment and increase their habitat so that they can thrive and prosper, as well! It is our duty to make informed decisions when tending to our gardens and know and understand causes and effects.
We know that chemicals that we have used in our gardens alter how children develop and lead to life-long effects, cause our pets to be at twice the risk of developing malignant cancer, reduce the hatching success and cause birth defects in our birds, and harm our earthworms, beneficial insects, and pollinators. We know that runoff from rain and watering further contaminates our groundwater and watersheds. And, most importantly, we know that native habitats are decreasing at an alarming rate. When we garden with wildlife in mind, we are ultimately benefitting ourselves, as well.
For instance, we need pollinators, and pollinators need our help. Our pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we take each day, and yet pollinators are at a critical point in their own survival. Many reasons contribute to their recent decline. We know for certain, however, that more nectar and pollen sources provided by more flowering plants and trees with help improve their health and numbers. Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other pollinators across the country.
We would love to share your stories about how you are making a difference for our wildlife.
For more information, contact:
Becky Hassebroek, Chairman: Wildlife Gardening