WE’VE GOT A worldwide web of horticulture at our digital fingertips, but nothing compares to actually sharing space with like-minded folks in real life. The internet might serve up answers, but engaging with others expands our world by introducing fresh voices that prompt us to ask new questions.

And the Northwest Horticultural Society is all about people and plants. For more than 50 years, NHS has fostered a lively community of local gardeners and plant lovers. An all-volunteer board of directors and engaged members run the nonprofit organization, and together they create a robust calendar of events designed to inspire and inform. Current NHS board president Jason Jorgensen says, “Members are the heart of our organization. Everything [NHS] does is thanks to the involvement and support of our community.”

A monthly Wednesday-night lecture series at the Center for Urban Horticulture provides members the chance to regularly gather and socialize with fellow gardeners, working designers and garden professionals. Topics explored by speakers scheduled for the coming year include women in horticulture, racial diversity and inclusion, plant preservation, and exciting design work happening in public and private landscapes.

“NHS works hard to keep in touch with the pulse of contemporary horticulture and remain culturally relevant,” says Sue Goetz, garden designer, author and NHS board member. “As an organization, we’re committed to reaching out and welcoming gardeners of all ages and learning levels.”

This year’s annual NHS Spring Symposium, “Gardening for the Future, Diversity and Ecology in the Urban Landscape,” takes place March 21 at the Bastyr University campus in Kenmore. Four local and international speakers will present their views on social politics, the environment and floral riches in the garden. The popular all-day event (with a delicious lunch included) frequently sells out, so it pays to register early.

On a smaller scale, throughout the year, NHS members can grow their gardening know-how by signing up for a variety of classes and workshops. Subjects range from cultivating tropical orchids, or ferns, or cactus and succulents, to polishing up on botanical Latin and identifying backyard birds; I’m leading several workshops focused on seeing color in the garden — my passion project. Other events, like organized garden walks and garden-tour day trips, immerse participants in remarkable local landscapes.


Looking farther afield, NHS members receive a discount on domestic and international garden tours put together by the organization; this year’s tour to the Loire Valley, led by renown Northwest plantsman Thomas Hobbs, promises to be memorable.

Open to anyone, the NHS spring plant sale on Saturday, March 7, at the Center for Urban Horticulture brings together a bonanza of specialty growers, all conveniently gathered under one roof. Justify your profligate purchase of choice and sometimes hard-to-find plants by telling yourself that all proceeds from the sale go toward the Miller Botanical Library, one of several regional endeavors that receive financial support from NHS.

There’s more, so much more. Like the Plant Nerd Night Garden Party in July (my people!) and a free Meet the Board garden tour in August. Visit the website for details or, if you’re planning on attending this week’s Northwest Flower & Garden Festival, stop by the NHS membership booth just outside the seminar rooms, and chat with friendly volunteers about joining in.