The Washington area has hundreds of gardening clubs with low membership fees and many benefits. Members consult with one another and share successes, the meetings sometimes feature guest speakers, and at least once a year most garden clubs hold plant swaps, which can save you more than the price of the annual fee.
One way to find a club is through the National Capital Area Garden Clubs (202-399-5958; gardencentral.org/ncafgc), but many local clubs aren’t members. Some homeowners associations and workplaces have clubs; the National Institutes of Health sponsors one for employees.
Organizations offering classes and lots of information about local gardening include Brookside Gardens (1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton; 301-962-1400; brooksidegardens.org), Green Spring Gardens (4603 Green Spring Rd., Alexandria; 703-642-5173; fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/gsgp), the National Arboretum (3501 New York Ave., NE; 202-245-2726; usna.usda.gov), and the USDA Graduate School (grad.usda.gov).
Cooperative Extension programs sponsor master-gardener programs, which answer garden and pest questions by phone and provide many other services, including plant clinics, demonstration gardens, speakers for local groups, and training to be a volunteer master gardener. Here’s how to find a program in your area:
• DC: 202-274-7166; firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Maryland: 301-590-9650; extension.umd.edu/gardening/mastergardeners/local/montgomery/index.cfm.
• Virginia: Arlington and Alexandria, 703-228-6414; Fairfax, 703-324-8556; Loudoun, 703-771-5150; Prince William, 703-792-7747; www.ext.vt.edu/resources.
Washington Gardener magazine (washingtongardener.com) features articles by local gardeners. It also has an e-newsletter and a blog and sponsors contest and other events. Subscriptions are $20.
Local garden coach Susan Harris links to a variety of regional gardening blogs at sustainable-gardening.com.