NARGS Membership - Why or Why Not?

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Peter George
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-09-03
NARGS Membership - Why or Why Not?

Now that we've opened the Forum to everyone willing to take the time to register, I am very interested in knowing why some of you have not joined NARGS. This question is not designed to pressure anyone, but to actually find out the specific reason or reasons why so many people who are involved in rock gardening choose not to join the 'big' organization. This question is addressed to everyone, whether or not you belong to NARGS, have ever belonged to NARGS, belong to a Chapter of NARGS but not NARGS itself, and anyone who has enough interest in rock gardening to be involved with this forum. So please take a minute or two and try to share your thinking with me, and with all of us. Thanks in advance.

deesen
deesen's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

Hi Peter,

From my own perspective it really boils down to economics. I'm a member of SRGC; AGS; my local group of the AGS; in the process of joining the Cyclamen Society; The Royal Horticultural Society; our National Trust which gets me into many of the famous gardens in the UK; the Crocus Group and the South African Bulb Group (OK the latter two cost £5-$8.1 to join with nothing else to pay until the groups begin to run out of funds).  I would like to join SIGNA; AIS; British Iris Society; Daffoil Societies in USA and UK etc. All of this adds up and the more I choose to spend in that way the less I have available to buy bulbs.

From what I have seen so far on the Forum (and I like what I have seen) and from a mainly bulb growers point of view there is not a lot to attract me to make the final step and become a full blown NARGS member at the moment. This could well change in the future though.

I would say, and I think I am right, that the majority of members who have joined recently are either UK or Europe based (I shouldn't say that in the way I have because we are all supposed to be Europeans ;D  ) and have joined because we are aware of NARGS and the NARGS Forum as a result of our participation in similar things on this side of the pond. I'm sure you could do with much more interest from people on your side of the pond.

I hope this helps the last thing I want to do is to upset people.

David Nicholson in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

Luc Gilgemyn
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-02

Hi Peter,I've been an NARGS member for over 10 years, but must admit that I gave up 3 or 4 years ago.The reason being, that as David, I'm a member of a lot of societies : AGS, SRGC, NRV (Holland), VRV (Belgium), Crocus group,etc...  I found myself in a position that I didn't have enough time left to garden, if I read all the Bulletins...  ;D  The NARGS Rock Garden Quarterly was the one that was the less interesting for me, considering where and how I garden, so I'm afraid I gave up on the NARGS.This being said, I'm retired now since a couple of months, so more time has become available...  alas, the funds are down...  ;D ;) so I will have to consider carefully, before acting, if I were to rejoin the NARGS, but I might...  ;)I joined this Forum, as I'm an active member of the SRGC forum and I'm the moderator of our VRV (flemish) Forum, and I love discussing with and showing plants to likeminded people.  Alas, I must say as my predecessors already mentioned, that a lot of the people I see posting here are from our side of the pond or even down under (Paul  ;D).For the moment, as the US still is in the firm grip of Winter, you have the benifit of the doubt, but I do hope to see lots more US and Canadian gardeners on this Forum.  ;)I've had the pleasure to visit the US and Canada on 4 occasions and therefore I know very well what a glorious flora and nature in general can be found there.  I can only hope to be able see lots of it here a bit later in the season !!All the best with the Forum !

Luc GilgemynHarelbeke - Belgium
RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

David makes a good point in that many newcomers here have already had forum experience.  If I could just get some of my fellow Chapter members (who've never been on a forum) to try it out.  That is much harder, in my opinion.  That we talk freely about each other's forums (SRGC and NARGS) is also a big plus.

I joined the NARGS national organization soon after I joined my Chapter.  But that was when I knew very little about the whole subject, and the Bulletins were too academic, even for me who relishes in that kind of stuff.  I just couldn't connect with it.  Sticking with the Chapter, I became sure footed, and later rejoined.

The new layout of the Rock Garden Quarterly well addresses my "problem" when I was a beginner.  It's much more inviting to the uninitiated.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

The economic reason is a big one! Given enough funds, I'd join all sorts of things, but that's not the case currently! That said, I have also not joined NARGS for lack of a reason to do so--no chapters close enough that I would/could attend on anything approaching a regular basis, and while I may yet join for the seed exchange, I am mostly uninterested in garden collected seed (open pollinated; I do get some in private trades) and did not feel that the overall costs of joining just for the wild seed on the exchange were justified- as opposed to just ordering from Alplains etc; There may come a day when I hope for a particular species I cannot get any other way than the exchange, but my seed 'needs' are not yet that rarefied....

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Boland
Boland's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-25

I can understand the economics as well.  I used to be a member of the American orchid Society, American Rhododendron Society and American iris Society.  The cost of all these memberships was getting daunting, especially in the past when the Canadian dollar was so poor.  Today it might not be so bad.  However, I did find myself torn in many directions.  I visit a couple of orchid forums where I get my orchid fix without being a member of the AOS. I decided to put my energies into NARGS as alpines was my real passion...I particularly like the travel-logs.  Of course, the seed exchange was a major bonus and I partake of that regularly.  Some 15 years later I have made many NARGS friends and the forum has increased that lately.  I do hope that some of the non-members visiting the forum may, at some point, consider joining NARGS

Todd Boland St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada Zone 5b 1800 mm precipitation per year

Fermi
Fermi's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-03

I became a member of NARGS long before I learned about computers! And while living in the States I became a Life member as I figured I'd live at least 20 more years and I hoped the Society would as well so I'd get my money's worth! ;D Only 7 more years to go! ;D ;D ;DI also belong to the SRGC, AGS, NZAGS (and joined RHS as we're visiting the UK this year and membership has it's privileges!) and it does take awhile to get through all the literature! But it's mostly things I want to read. The seedexes are the next major reason for joining for those of us living a long way from the local groups and National events but the Journals alone are worth the cost of the subscription.Our "local" AGS group's rules state that to become a member you must to belong to the AGS (UK) - to encourage members to participate in the Seedex and to get decent information through the Journal. This has been a contentious issue (the cost is about $50 a year!) and I can see how local chapters of NARGS would baulk at the idea of making it compulsory to belong to the National Group.cheersfermi

Fermi de Sousa, Central Victoria, Australia Min: -7C, Max: +40C

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21
Fermi wrote:

Our "local" AGS group's rules state that to become a member you must to belong to the AGS (UK) - to encourage members to participate in the Seedex and to get decent information through the Journal. This has been a contentious issue (the cost is about $50 a year!) and I can see how local chapters of NARGS would baulk at the idea of making it compulsory to belong to the National Group.

Though the reasoning might be commendable, I'm glad we don't require that here at NARGS.  Our membership in general is perhaps less devoted, I think, than the Brit based AGS.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Peter George
Title: Guest
Joined: 2009-09-03

Requiring NARGS membership for all Chapter members is a contentious issue, and one that won't go away. Our Chapter (Berkshire) has in its bylaws the requirement that to join the Chapter, one MUST already belong to NARGS. As a matter of practice, we don't enforce it, or I'm guessing we would lose a bunch of members. On the other hand, our Chapter, like all Chapters, benefits from its status as a 'NARGS Chapter.' Yet the Chapters themselves are not participating in the costs of running NARGS, a peculiar situation from my perspective. If NARGS membership, either as an individual or a Chapter, provide some benefits, are we to assume that those benefits have costs, and if so, who is to bear the burden of those costs?

In general terms NARGS has to do a better job of providing tangible benefits to its members and the Chapters. The Journal is certainly a real benefit, and in my opinion, is worth the $$$ for membership by itself. Add in the seed-ex, and the conferences, and in the near future, a return of the 'expedition/tour/guided hike' program, and we're looking at an organization that is worth the cost. The speakers tour as well provides substantial benefit to the Chapters and THEIR members, NARGS members or not, and those speakers don't come for free to NARGS.

So the question might well be restated this way: Does the current and projected body of benefits have a real worth of $35 per year, and if so, why aren't more Chapter members taking advantage of those benefits by joining NARGS?

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

I checked in with Bobby Ward, I've been a NARGS member since 1975 (I was 21 yrs old), although could have sworn it was a few years earlier when I was in my late teens, but maybe I was dreaming.  One of the best benefits of membership is the printed quarterly, whether the Bulletin of the ARGS/NARGS as once called, or as the NARGS Rock Garden Quarterly in the later years.  When I first joined, I bought some "back issues" from the late 1950s up until when I joined in the mid 70s.  I still use these 50+ years of bulletins frequently as an invaluable reference resource.  I had various interim "cumulative indexes" of the journals through the years, but discarded them recently, as one of the NARGS member benefits is a full cumulative index of all bulletins/quarterly from 1943-2008, accessed on a NARGS member's page.

The second benefit, and perhaps the most compelling, is the annual NARGS seed exchange.  If one donates some seed to the annual seed exchange, you can get 35 packets of seed, otherwise as a member not donating see you still get 25 packets of seed.  The list of wild collected seed is always strong.  A more recent development is the Surplus Seed List; last year I had so many packets of seed from the surplus list I admit to not getting it all planted.  As one who has ordered seed from the various specialist seed collector lists, and spent small fortunes on them, I can't forget NARGS as a primary source of highly affordable seed to feed my habit.

Also important, is the ability to attend local NARGS Chapter meetings.  In my area, there have been three such chapters within reasonable reach through the years; the Connecticut Chapter, the New England Chapter (mostly Eastern Massachusetts), and the Berkshire Chapter (Western Massachusetts and New York, where Peter George presides).  The plant sales, friendships, garden visits, and meetings, have been an invaluable resource to enrich my Rock Gardening experience.

Mark McDonough Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5 antennaria at aol.com  

Fermi
Fermi's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-03-03

Mark,you have reminded me that one of the benefits beyond the cost of subscription was the camaraderie of like-minded gardeners when I got to attend some chapter meetings and study weekends while I was in the US or when we returned for the 1999 National Conference in Calgary.cheersfermi

Fermi de Sousa, Central Victoria, Australia Min: -7C, Max: +40C

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