The Mad Gardeners

Photo Courtesy of Danilo Maffei in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Photo Courtesy of Danilo Maffei

Gardening clubs have been popular in the United States for quite some time; dating back to the first known organization, The Ladies’ Garden Club of Athens, Georgia.  Established in 1891, it was created by twelve friends who got together to promote appropriate gardening procedures, conservation of plants, trees, and wildlife, beautifying of public properties, and to encourage gardening among amateurs.  

All American garden clubs trace their beginnings to the Ladies’ Garden Club.  Even as those twelve ladies could not have foreseen the great expansion of their vision, neither can we foresee the magnitude and rippling effects of our efforts for beautification, conservation and education that will spread from the love, dedication and generosity of all members now and in the future.” ~ Virginia Lassiter, President of Ladies’ Garden Club 2011-2013

Steve Silk's Welcoming Walkway in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Steve Silk’s Welcoming Walkway (photo courtesy of Steve Silk)

Although the Mad Gardeners was established more recently, its philosophy is primarily the same; to educate the public about the benefits of responsible gardening practices, to inspire gardeners of all levels-from novice to professional, and to offer an extensive, knowledgeable network of  gardeners for advice to anyone inquiring.  The latter part is what attracted me to the Mad Gardeners organization, the fact that you could contact any member with a question and they were always incredibly friendly and helpful.

My first experience was with Kathleen Nelson, a member who embodies the Mad Gardeners mission, when I attended several of her classes at the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y..  From there, I became a frequent, and always welcomed, visitor to her gardens and nursery.  Kathleen took me around her property and tirelessly explained the benefits of native plants, showing me shrubs and plants for hours at a time.  As a result, my gardens are rich with the biodiversity that comes from incorporating natives in the landscape.

Photo Courtesy of Danilo Maffei in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Photo Courtesy of Danilo Maffei

There are so many other inspirational members in this wonderful organization, as well; artists, landscape designers, photographers, writers, speakers, teachers, florists, masons, nursery owners . . . the list is endless, suffice to say everyone has their own special talent.  I have been incredibly motivated by members that have left their jobs to pursue gardening degrees, by nursery owners that maintain stringent organic practices, by the talented authors that share their love of gardening with the world, and by our many dedicated members that spend countless hours organizing events and managing the everyday operations.  We are indeed fortunate to have such a diverse, talented group of people in our midst.

So, in a world full of violence, economic strife and political uncertainty, gardening represents one phenomenon that is all positive: life, creative expression, beauty, health, and nature.  And, what better way to explore all of these areas than by attending a garden symposium?  Namely, the Mad Gardeners Symposium for 2013, Making An Entrance, held on Saturday, March 9th at the Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village, Connecticut:

Steve Silk's Plant Filled Patio in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Steve Silk’s Plant Filled Patio (photo courtesy of Steve Silk)

Starting with exuberant gardener and container king, Steve Silk will share the art of using characteristics such as shape, texture and color to create garden vignettes, transitions and borders with season long interest.  With his passion for the forgotten heirloom fruit trees and other historical edibles, David Buchanan ( explains the concept of growing food right outside your door, while preserving the tradition of these edible plants. And landscape designer, Danilo Maffei ( is on a mission to show that gardens can provide vibrant, inviting entryways and curb appeal.  He will present environmentally sound design plans to help you develop your own aesthetically appealing yard transformation.

With spring right around the corner, what better way to spend the day than viewing gorgeous gardens, luscious plants and tempting edibles.  If you’re within driving range, please grab a friend (or two) and come to Falls Village for a day of great food, fellowship and inspiration.  See you there!


  1. Thanks for the mention, Kathy! Looking forward to coming up there this weekend.

    • My pleasure, Danilo. I love looking at great designs, as well as sharing them with my readers. I look forward to meeting you Saturday! ~Kathy

  2. Katie Dawson says:

    Hello, it was a great presentation by all of the Mad Gardeners speakers today, nice to meet you Danilo, your approach is refreshing and ecologically sensible.

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