How to Start a Local Peony Club
by J. W. Waddick
5. Goals: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

During all this beginning, middle and growth there will constant fine-tuning. You may plan and produce flower shows, international speaker events, local or distant tours, sales, auctions, publications or even produce T-shirts printed with your club’s logo. What does it all mean?  

In general, a Gardeners’ Club exists to promote peonies of all kinds and educate gardeners about the care and variety.  In general, a Commercial Club exists to understand the agriculture, marketing and commerce of all kinds of peonies and to promote their wider growth in gardens.  

Obviously these goals co-exist, but individual projects may get fuzzy. If your club does produce a T-shirt with peonies, this is promoting the plants. If your club produces a T-shirt with the Club’s logo, you are promoting the club – a secondary promotion of peonies. If you are a commercial grower and produce a T-shirt with your logo (even if it includes a peony picture) what does it promote? Does your club sale promote peonies or does it benefit members? Neither kind of club is really there for the benefit of the members (although this is closer to a commercial club’s goals).  

Eventually your club will have sales, auctions and even accrued membership dues. What does your club do with a Treasury? Have a big dinner? NO- this is a member benefit, but suppose you have just brought in a national speaker from a thousand miles away and a dozen people have worked hard to arrange for all the preparation, planning and details. It is certainly a small price to award the workers, out of town speakers and associates to host a dinner at club expense.  

Very big expenditures should be thought of in regard to how your club’s ‘grants’ will benefit peonies over members or commerce in general. Simple accumulation of a treasury without a planned or regular expenditure is pointless: have a goal in mind. Our club donates dozens of plants every year, and we have also donated peony books to local libraries. We have used our minimal buying power to buy plants from small growers to encourage them on. Future plans include publications and more donations. Always to benefit peonies.  

Clubs can easily ‘descend’ into a spiral of providing more and more benefits to their members such as discounts, special deals etc. Once these real or potential benefits start ‘costing’ much more than the price of membership dues, it is no longer benefiting peonies. A discounted peony will encourage a gardener to buy something new and possibly different – this benefits peonies.  There’s always some balance here.  

Think peonies first.  

Summary – Get a few heads together and plan what your club will be: members, goals, interests, schedule and events. Always think of how your club can promote and educate about peonies. And most importantly have fun in the doing. You will gain in friends and have fun socializing as you learn more about the plants. It will also be some work, quite a bit at times, but worth the goals.  

2. Advertising; Finding a Big Fish.
3. Growth: 10 – 100 - 1,000.
4. Gardeners vs. Growers – US and THEM.
5. Goals: The Light at the End of the Tunnel.
6. Feedback: Success and Failure.