How about pairing a resolution to learn more about gardening with the opportunity to do good? Joining a local gardening group or two will...

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How about pairing a resolution to learn more about gardening with the opportunity to do good?

Joining a local gardening group or two will not only introduce you to like-minded enthusiasts, it also helps keep the gardening community strong.

Involvement brings many rewards, such as notice of pre-sales, free or reduced-cost publications, a wealth of local gardening information, free admission to lectures, the chance to keep up with what’s going on and, always, plenty of volunteer opportunities.

Whether you seek knowledge, companionship or discounts, here are a few ways to dive into the vibrant Puget Sound gardening scene.

Each group has a distinct personality and benefits, so it’s a good idea to try out a meeting, lecture or event before committing.

Each of these groups welcomes beginning gardeners as well as those who are more experienced.

Most groups offer various levels of membership, so call or check out the Web sites for a complete picture of costs and opportunities. Or join away and see what you get — I promise, you won’t be bored.

Choice plant

Helleborus foetidus is one of the easiest and most dependable winter-blooming perennials.

If you can ignore that its common name is stinking hellebore (which it doesn’t, particularly), you’ll enjoy the lacy, dark-green foliage and pale-green, bell-shaped flowers trimmed in burgundy.

Grow in sun or shade, where this care-free hellebore will spread into an attractive colony and flower from late November through early spring.

Product pick

It’s great to have a pair of Mud Buddies right outside the back door to encourage you to get outside despite the damp. These slip-ons remind me of old fashioned rain rubbers, updated in bright colors and an appealing shape.

They’re easy to pull on and off, with an ankle-high neoprene cuff to keep your feet warm and dry. Durable rubber covers the outer foot area, making Mud Buddies tough enough for winter gardening chores.

Cost: $45.95. Sold at Garden Works in Bellevue ( and many other local stores.

The Northwest Horticultural Society


This is a knowledgeable and friendly group that regularly hosts the best lectures in town, bringing garden experts from around the world to Seattle. It sponsors a not-to-be-missed plant sale every September, and the newsletter “Garden Notes” comes free with membership.

Volunteer to help with their events, and you’ll meet some of the savviest gardeners around.

The Arboretum Foundation


This is the granddaddy of local groups, celebrating 70 years of stewardship of the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre living woody plant museum in the heart of Seattle.

You won’t find a more enthusiastic bunch of volunteers, especially now, when the Arboretum’s Master Plan is getting under way. It’s an exciting time to be part of the Arboretum.

Membership includes a newsletter and a quarterly high-quality bulletin full of expert gardening information, as well as the chance to get into the far less-crowded, members-only pre-plant-sales in spring and fall.

The Bellevue Botanical Garden Society


This group is equally supportive of the newer, dynamic BBG with its world-renowned perennial border.

Volunteers fashion the amazing light show known as Garden d’Lights, which draws families from around Puget Sound to the garden at Christmastime.

A discount at the gift shop, classes, lectures and plenty of activities to support a growing garden are part of the draw.

The Washington

Native Plant Society


This group offers monthly meetings, hikes and an annual study weekend to educate its members about our native flora. Bring a hand lens and your enthusiasm to the meetings — this is a dedicated group with a strong conservation ethic.



This group has a serious mission to prevent the mutilation of trees and shrubs through poor pruning.

Led by the charismatic Cass Turnbull, this is a lively bunch of gardeners and professionals quick to share their expertise in a newsletter, classes and workshops, with a strong social component.

Valerie Easton also answers questions in Wednesday’s Plant Talk in Northwest Life. Write to her at P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111 or e-mail with your questions. Sorry, no personal replies.