NARGS-- is it worth it?

vegangirl(z6 VA)February 15, 2004

I'm new to alpine/rock gardening but not to gardening in general. Is joining NARGS worthwhile or can I get the information they give online or in books? I have plans and dreams to build a sunny rock wall (I've actually started it), shady rock steps with tiny plants, and a shady creek bank with boulders. I don't really know how to describe that but what I have in mind is to fix up our southwest facing creek bank which is about 15 feet high and shaded on both sides of the creek, with rocks and plant things like dwarf rhododendrons, ferns, woodland wildflowers. I have seen places like this in real life and am trying to mimic them.

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leftwood(z4a MN)

I am president of the MN chapter NARGS. I first joined the national organization to be able to participate in the seed exchange. There is so much you can get nowhere else. Initially, I found their quarterly bulletins over my head most of the time, but was enticed by the exquisite photography of such unusually colorful alpine flora, and was eventually hooked. Information can be found elsewhere, Timber Press carries many good books, although not as thorough as the NARGS bookstore.

Hot of the press would be a perfect one for you: Rock Garden Design and Construction. But I don't think it talks about plants. There are many good books for that. I am sure you have a local chapter in VA, dues would be cheaper and you'll get a lot of good advice. As with almost every garden society, members usually don't only do rock gardening and I am sure you can get advice for your shady and creek areas too. You can contact them through the website. click on "meetings" then "local chapters." The national convention is in Raleigh this year.

I am a strong proponent of using native flora of local origin. A species native to Virginia, but who's genotype is from Minnesota is not, in my opinion, a native of Virginia at all. It's like taking an Inuite indian from Alaska and moving him to Florida. Though he is the same species (Homo sapien) as a Seminole indian, he is still Inuite and not a native Virginian. If you are going to plant natives, do try to use local sources. You probably have a Native plant society in your state too.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 5:21PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

Thank you Rick, for your thoughtful and informative reply. The seed exchange sounds intriguing! I'll look for a local chapter on the NARGS web site. It probably won't be too local though. I'm in the mountains and it seems that every plant society chapter is either in northern VA or eastern VA. I'll check on the Native plant society too. We have many native species that would fit my plan. In fact, some of the places I mentioned that I'm trying to mimic are here in the VA mountains.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2004 at 8:01PM
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safariofthemind(z7b NC)

The local chapter is a jewel and a great place to learn about all manner of plants and environments, not just alpine ones. Locally a lot of people do small perennials and woodland plants. Many members are locally prominent horticulturalists including academics, collectors, nursery owners and arboreta/public garden staff.

The seed exchange is absolutely wonderful. 25 packs of seeds for 12.50 to cover expenses. Can't beat it!


    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 2:24PM
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Doris_J(Z8 WA)

The seed exchange is incredible, and the local NARGS chapters have meetings and plant sales--great stuff! I would recommend it.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 5:05PM
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vegangirl(z6 VA)

After checking, it looks like the nearest local chapter is a couple hundred miles from me. I've decided to join the national society because of the seed exchange. Thanks for the imput!

    Bookmark   February 22, 2004 at 9:21AM
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