you haven’t lived until you have been told you bought too many plants at a plant sale…

Seriously, it’s sad but true. You have not lived until you have been chastised for buying too many plants at a plant sale given by a plant society that you are a member of. That happened to me this spring.

I like to try to support national horticultural nonprofits as well as local plant societies either by membership or by buying at their plant sales. This spring I have found some fabulous plants at the herb society plant sale, my friend’s plant sale, the azalea and rhododendron society plant sale, Jenkins Arboretum and more.

But for the groups I belong to, there is one group I have struggled with since I joined. I’ve tried so hard. I’ve offered my garden for one of their tours, I offered last year to volunteer on their tour at a garden that was close to me, and so on. When I go to events I try to buy what they are selling in order to support the group. Yet it is not a group that plays well with others.

This one group that is very insular for lack of a better description. And that starts the top with the board. It’s like you’re suspect for being friendly, and I just don’t know where to go with that in my head so I avoided a couple of events until the recent one I attended.

I arrived late at the event because I had another obligation. They knew I was coming late because I didn’t want them to think I was just being rude, and I told them. When I arrived the person at the sign in table who is also the group head kind of cut me dead. They didn’t look at me, didn’t say hello to me….nothing. That was really awkward and uncomfortable. And my name tag didn’t have a little plastic thing to put it in so I couldn’t even wear that. I had the urge to turn around and leave when I first got there and I should’ve listened to that inner voice.

When they announced that the plant sale was opening up, I told the person who told everyone that that I didn’t get a number so I didn’t know where in the order I was for buying plants. (You see, they give out numbers and every number that called gets to go in order. ) So that person said oh go ahead just buy plants so I picked out six little plants.

Now when I say little I mean little. These plants were the size of plants that you usually buy in a six pack of plant cells early on in the season. These plants were basically not much bigger than starter plugs. I don’t normally buy starter plugs. I prefer to buy plants that are a little more established so they stand a better chance of success. But I was trying to support the group it’s a nonprofit.

I paid for my plants, I took them home and planted them. Flash Forward to a conversation with someone in the group. I was chastised for buying too many plants. The person who was supposed to hand out the plant numbers at the meeting and plant sale told this person that I was there for some announcement where it was said people could only buy two plants. I wasn’t. I wouldn’t have bought six plants if I had been told only to purchase two.

I’m sitting here thinking to myself should I take them out and return them? They’ve barely grown so I probably could. The other thing is what I bought wasn’t particularly unusual or even rare. I had a hard time finding things to buy but I was trying to be supportive. My mouth is still kind of hanging open with this one. Nobody has ever accused me of buying too many plants except my husband and that’s been after some trips to Black Creek in East Earl when I fill up the porch!

I’m thinking I’m kind of done with this group. I have tried my best for a couple of years and it’s just not working. And that’s fine — not everybody on the face of the earth has to like you. But if they think I’m going to be chastised for buying too many plants when I didn’t know I was buying too many plants, pay my membership dues and go to events were people are kind of rude to me, sorry not sorry I have better things to do. And no, no garden tours in their future either.

But odd situations like this are not just limited to this group, sadly. A lot of groups have core membership that’s been entrenched for in some cases, decades. I know friends who have tried to volunteer for other kinds of groups who have run into other kinds of odd roadblocks, and it’s all because the old guard of whichever group doesn’t want to let anybody NEW in yet they are conflicted because they need to have new membership in order to survive.

But I just didn’t think this would happen with the group that is related to one of my favorite things — gardening.

Live and learn! Well I am off to plantaholics anonymous now! Cheers!