The Virtual Garden Club

Inspiration, Instruction, and Live Q&A from Margaret Roach and Ken Druse 

Margaret Roach and Ken Druse 

OUR MOST treasured plants are often those that came not from an anonymous catalog, but from a friend’s garden. Likewise, the garden wisdoms that really stick often weren’t those found in a Google search or even a book, but from talking to another gardener who’d been there, done that.

My longtime friend Ken Druse and I have been swapping such advice since we met about 30 years ago. It’s safe to say that our relationship has made us both better gardeners, and we continue to grow together.

We invite you to join us in some of these conversations, and ask your own questions for us to answer, too—that’s what our new Virtual Garden Club is about.

Inside the Virtual Garden Club, you’ll get:

  • Six live classes, where Ken and I will present some of our go-to gardening strategies
  • A recorded version of one of my most popular lectures: “Gardening for the Birds”
  • Monthly to-do lists to help you focus on what’s most important, for greater success
  • A total of four hours of group Q&A time over the six sessions, where Ken and I will help you work through your urgent gardening questions—the way he and I have been answering each other’s for decades

It’s an opportunity to learn new strategies and perspectives, get more joy out of your garden, and enjoy the company of a supportive online gardening community led by two quirky gardeners you may know from our lively segments on my long-running public radio show and podcast, “A Way to Garden,” where Ken is a regular. Want to get in on the knowledge-sharing, and make this your best fall of gardening yet? We want to help you do it—whether you’re just starting out, or building on decades of experience.

This three-month program with over six hours of live instruction will usually cost $159. But since this is our first-ever club season, we’re going step further and inviting you to join us for a discounted rate of only $129! UPDATE 8/19/21: Registration is now closed for this first season.

Reserve a Spot!

What You’ll Learn in Our Six Live Classes Together

THE MAJORITY of the class time will be dedicated to live Q&A, where you can learn anything you want. But each class will also include a short presentation from Ken and me on the following topics:

    • Lessons learned along the way in our now-grown-up gardens (Aug. 19 @ 3pm ET)
    • Learning from 2021 tomato troubles: what went wrong and why (plus ripening and preserving tips) (Sept. 2 @3pm ET)
    • Flower-bulb best practices (including animal-proof species and more) (Sept. 16 @ 3pm ET)
    • Eco-cleanup: Prime your garden for future success (plus our favorite powerhouse fall native perennials) (Oct. 7 @3pm ET)
    • It ain’t over till it’s over: Autumn’s standout trees and shrubs (and yes, you can plant when dormant) (Oct. 21 @3pm ET)
    • Smarter seed sources and other essential advice for a better 2022 garden starting now (Nov. 4 @ 3pm ET)

    We’ll also use these calls to discuss the monthly gardening to-do lists that are included with this program!

    NOTE: Each class will be recorded for your convenience, in case you can’t attend live or want to revisit what we covered, with recordings available until one month after the last live session.

    What You’ll Learn from the Recorded Lecture “Making a Garden for the Birds”

    I ALWAYS say the birds taught me to garden. And I thank them.

    What started out decades ago as merely a semi-conscious wish to see more birds while I started a garden on a former blank canvas, ended up bringing almost 70 avian species into the garden each year, each in its own time, with more nesting in it or at its periphery.

    I’ll share all my “if I knew then what I know now” insights about setting realistic aims (no, not every site can attract bluebirds no matter how many boxes you buy!) and accomplishing them—all within the context of a visually pleasing home landscape.

    We’ll cover:

    • Take proper aim: Before you misdirect efforts, how to evaluate what birds you can potentially attract
    • The top 7 guidelines for making a garden that makes birds right at home, including how to “retrofit” an existing landscape that may be more aesthetically driven or a collector’s garden
    • The powerhouse plant genera that are key elements of inviting birds, wherever you garden
    • Creating what I call bio-hedges and other mixed plantings to make birds at home—and finding room for them in your yard
    • Best practices for bird-feeding, nest boxes, and other non-plant garden elements (both do’s and don’ts)
    • Plus lots of amazing avian “aha’s” I’ve gleaned along the way … and the “must” resources online and off that will plug you into the location-specific information you need

    Ready to Join the Club?

    Since this is our club’s first-ever season, we’re inviting you to join us for a discounted rate of only $129, a $30 discount off the normal price of the program. UPDATE 8/19/21: Registration is now closed for the first season.

    Reserve a Spot!

    Our Gardening Journeys (and Why Some People are Brave/Crazy Enough to Learn from Us)

    KEN DRUSE and I have many overlapping interests, but also distinct ones—like I’m obsessed with not just growing but also putting up each harvest of edibles, and he’s more likely to be off propagating more of a cherished rare shrub from cuttings, or even a massive tree from seed.

    We’ve traveled around the country to some of its great gardens together, and even collaborated on books. A little about each of us:

    I was fortunate enough to discover gardening almost 40 years ago. It offered me the escape I was looking for after a fast-paced corporate career, and it comforted me as I managed the care for my mother, when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 49.

    After 15 years at “Martha Stewart Living” and nearly a decade each at “Newsday” and “The New York Times,” I moved fulltime to my former weekend place in New York’s Hudson Valley, where I experiment with and enjoy my hobby-turned-lifestyle.

    The journey has led to an award-winning book, and also lately brought me right back to where my career began, “The New York Times,” where I have written the garden column since April 2020.

    Ken’s experiments in the soil started with his playing with toy trucks in the dirt, and observing the creatures (including bunnies) that shared his family’s suburban quarter-acre. His was a world of forts and dams and holes dug to China. But around age 10 he recalls rescuing a seedling tulip tree from the gutter and planting it, so his propagation obsession started early.

    “I find it so thrilling to get a small plant or plant a seed and participate in nurturing it as it grows,” he says.

    In college, houseplants took hold of Ken and have never let go. He has gardened on a Manhattan rooftop, a Brooklyn backyard, and for the last 25 years, on an island in a river in rural New Jersey.

    Ken is the author and photographer behind an astonishing 20 garden books, including most recently “The Scentual Garden” and “The New Shade Garden,” and has been called “the guru of natural gardening” by “The New York Times.” His books have won many awards, and an archive of 50,000 of his photographs is housed at the Smithsonian Institution in the Ken Druse Collection of Garden Photographs.

    Our Personal Gardening Methodology

    KEN AND I both believe gardening is a 365-day adventure. And the key to enjoying it isn’t always doing more; it’s opening our eyes and hearts to the beautiful moments happening right under our noses.

    We believe in organic gardening, and actually invite insects into our garden, where they generously pollinate our plants and serve as food for the dozens of species of birds that I so enjoy watching.

    Some beds in our gardens are more formal, but we believe gardening should be a bit messy, too. It’s nature after all. The goal isn’t to tame your plants; it’s to cultivate them in an environment where they can show off their authentic beauty.

    If you resonate with this approach, you’ll love our garden club.

    And we’d love to have you.

    Let’s Spend Some Time Together in the Garden

    Save your seat in the Virtual Garden Club for only $129. UPDATE 8/19/21: Registration now closed for the first season.

    Reserve a Spot!