need your input: my idea for ‘virtual garden club’ events online

survey-about-webinarI ENJOY CONNECTING with other gardeners, and have a new idea of how to do that with more of you in 2017, no matter where you live. In response to inquiries from readers too far away to attend my garden tours or workshops, or even a lecture I’m giving around the Northeast, I’m proposing a series of webinar-style “events” I think of as a virtual garden club.

I need your help, in the form of a short survey (link at the bottom of this story), to decide if it’s a good idea, and what format it might take. The survey probably won’t take you more than 5 minutes to complete.

Background: For more than 20 years, I’ve lectured to garden audiences, and also hosted Garden Conservancy Open Days at my own garden in the Hudson Valley of New York (as I will again).

In 2016, in response to visitors’ requests requesting more time to chat and ask questions than is possible at the big tours, I added smaller, more personal half-day garden workshops, and they sold out. (They’ll be repeated in 2017.)

But that still doesn’t address geographic limitations. Some of you are just too far away to visit, no matter the format.

I attend and learn from a lot of webinars—with Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with various horticulture trade groups and nursery associations, with eOrganic (the organic arm of Extension online), besides ones about technology that help me with the website.

They vary not just in subject, but in length, price, day of week and time of day–and that’s where I want your feedback.

Using a platform such as GoToMeeting or GoToWebinar, which you can access easily from your computer, iPad or even smartphone, I’m proposing something like this:

One possibility: I’d give a slide talk on a particular subject, then open up the floor for questions—the virtual version of the familiar format you’d expect at a slide talk at your library, garden club, etc.

Alternatively, I could occasionally host Q&A-only sessions without a lecture first, to really dig into all the issues you’re wanting help with. Maybe ticket-holders would even submit their questions ahead of time, so I could prepare in-depth replies. For years I hosted a live garden call-in program on Sirius Radio when I worked at Martha Stewart, so I know everyone has questions!

Will you take the survey and help me decide if this is a good idea or not? Here’s the link—and again, it will take less than 5 minutes. Thank you! If you have any other thoughts, it’s fine to put them in the comments here, too, but the survey tool helps me really tabulate the feedback more easily, of course.





  2. Kara says:

    Love the idea and I just took the survey. I would note that you GoToWebinar does have a recording function, which is especially nice since you’re trying to attract people from different geographies.

  3. Penny Fulton says:

    Hey. Having taken many surveys (including this type) ,I’ve seldom had any opinion expressed or questions addressed by them, pertinent to my interests. they’re just exasperatin’! Whereas, once ,in error, I seem to have contacted you your very self- and you responded quite cheerfully and to the point. I agree with Rose Kruvand; your blog is our club! Just don’t go away.
    p.s.: for a while now, your greeting to me says only: ” Dear Blank” .Hurts, rather.


    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Penny. Thanks for the helpful feedback. I can check your subscription info for the newsletter and see why “Penny” isn’t in the field for first name.

  4. Sieglinde Anderson says:

    Having relocated to NC from NJ, what I miss most is lectures at NYBG or Wavehill and the wonderful opportunity to see other gardens during the Garden Conservancy Open Days from NJ, NY, or even Connecticut. I would love a webinar that would report on some of these, your reviews, what you loved, what other gardeners are doing or have learned. As a professional garden designer I am always interested in how others are dealing with difficult garden areas like full shade, dry shade, heavy clay soil, gravel or sand soils, great plant combinations. I would think too that I can learn from questions asked. So I would look forward to a webinar. Great idea.

  5. Sara says:

    Just completed the survey. Would love to see any webinars recorded. I have a limited window of being able to attend “live” but do make time to listen/view webinars that I’m interested in if I get a recording.

  6. Joanne Toft says:

    Two questions I didn’t put in the survey – would there be a fee for attending?
    Also would you record it so if a person was not able to attend the webinar they could listen to it later?

    I agree with others that I love the blog – it is a bit like a garden club. I look forward to reading it.

    I garden in the heart of a large city with an extra long yard. So alway looking for ideas and way to work with shade from neighboring trees, houses is helpful. (Mpls., Mn.) we do get critters since there is a creek and parkway near and there are always rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks interested in sharing my veggies and flowers.

  7. Heather Marsman says:

    Just took your survey. I agree with those who would like to be able to record or to have a link to recorded webinars on your site. It’s a great idea! Thanks!!!

  8. Mike Sullivan says:

    This is a great idea. I have never done something like this, and I am looking forward for the chance. Will, more than likely, learn a lot.

  9. Cate says:

    Another topic (one you have covered well in your newsletter-Thank you) is dealing with garden pests. It would be great to get a mini lecture followed by Q&A among the group on methods to deter rabbits, voles and those devious and flexible squirrels!

    Thanks for all you share with the community, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Joe says:

    Regarding the survey………DON’T MESS WITH A GREAT THING!! …PLEASE!…..the format in extremely useful, extremely informative, totally interesting….I look so forward to each epistle and keep them all to ward off the cold winter.

    Joe Glidden

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Joe. Not thinking of changing anything about the website or e-newsletter. But I can’t do garden talks or answer questions “out loud” here so am just considering whether to add the other “events” as well, like the ones I do in person.

  11. masongreene says:

    I look forward to and love your newsletter.; informative, beautiful, inspiring, available whenever again and again. A good talk, slide show, blog post can inspire thoughtful comments or questions. Those may or may not benefit a wide audience. It can be torturous waiting/ listening through long periods of talk for 1 nugget pertinent to one’s self. I’ve listened to many of those only to hear people wanting to hear themselves speak and pat themselves on the back for getting recognized and through to the person giving the talk and taking the questions. I don’t intend to be negative here or discourage your pursuit of this idea. Is there another alternative? I’m confident that one of your readers more experienced than I will suggest one or more. I wish you the best. I am thankful for all that I have learned from you newsletter.

  12. Carol says:

    I would agree with delight in having a webinar!

    Having access to a recorded session expands the number of persons who could/would participate. In addition, being able to refer back to an explanation is of great value. Please, do consider the recorded for later access option.

    Personally, I have missed some good live webinars due to work schedules, weather demanding action away from the computer, or community opportunities.

    Thanks for considering the webinar format!!!

  13. bett says:

    Great idea re webinar. I would suggest tho that once the topic is known, have people email in their questions which avoids duplicating questions & also avoids some people dominating the conversation. The most successful webinars that I have watched has the speaker read out a general question & then answer it. Your questions are always insightful on your podcasts. Best wishes.

  14. Donna Frankiewicz says:

    Good idea! Also interested in whether there there would be a fee. I did something like this with “Global Room for Women” and the guest speakers were all from countries far away, and cultures so different from ours. We had to opportunity to as questions live, since it was a call-in group. It was a really fulfilling experience. Since gardening is my first love, I’m sure this would be something I’d do every week. Thanks!

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