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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

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When a Garden Writer’s Membership Has No Privileges.

When my membership in the Garden Writers Association came due at the end of last season, I decided not to renew it. Because I do not require most of the professional services they provide, membership at $85 a year, turned out to be, at least for me, a relatively costly fee for nothing more than having my name added to a list larger than the phone directory of a small town.

At the beginning, I was pleased to see my name included among the accomplished garden writers whom I admire, but as the year went on, and an invitation, to nominate my favorite writers in various categories, was accompanied by a request for payment for that privilege, I was miffed.

To add to my disappointment, the original GWA on-line pamphlet had hinted that membership had its rewards, or at least I think it did. After a year, I had received no benefits, even though I have a very respectable international readership. I had hoped for advance copies of gardening books to review – they were never sent. I looked forward to receiving newly introduced plants to grow, share and write about - that too didn’t happen. Perhaps I would be sent a garden product to use and review – I received nothing. I now must assume that my Canadian address and navigating Canadian customs were a put off for most suppliers.

It was quite a let down to discover that most tangible benefits are distributed to those who attended conferences. I can understand someone driving for a few hours to mingle with their peers. I also understand if someone purchases a discount fare to fly there. Unfortunately, I live in Canada, and there are no budget priced flights to anywhere in the USA. Such a deal would require that I first drive across the border to the nearest American airport. To compound my frustration, just in case I might decide to make the journey, - after all, there are so many interesting people there that I would like to meet - it appeared that most conferences interfered with visiting our grandchildren, [we drivie to Boston or Toronto, every 30 days] or coincided with unswitchable theater tickets, or socializing with close friends that we see rarely.

Considering that I write about gardening for the pleasure of it, I cannot justify travel that might otherwise contribute to a writer’s career. What I do is my passion and for that, no membership is required.

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Reader Comments (1)

"What I do is my passion and for that, no membership is required." sure you are 100% right........, thanks for your great blog, it is indeed very interisting and helpful also for students( I study agricolture at the University in Udine), as me ,who have passion but have a lot more to learn about plants...greetings from northern Italy james

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJames

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