A Surprise Meeting of SGAFO, Just For Fun

Bumblebee on a Zinnia
Welcome! You’ve come to the right place if you are looking for the SGAFO meeting.

SGAFO, you may remember, is the Society for Gardeners Aged Fifty and Over.

I was pleased to join this esteemed Society not too long ago, a little over two years ago. Two years, one month and two days ago, to be exact. Can that much time have really passed since that fateful day?

I remember the excitement I felt, the butterflies, the nervousness. Would I be accepted? Someone as young as I? And now those even younger are joining, everyday.

It is a moment that many gardeners cherish, when they can finally join this Society. Some join quite openly and but others prefer to join as secret members, not yet ready to announce their membership. That’s fine. All are welcome!

For today’s impromptu SGAFO meeting, let us first ascertain who is here. Any new members who have just turned fifty? Or turned fifty since the last meeting? Anyone?



Anyone less than fifty here, just interested to find out what they have to look forward to?



Okay, next order of business is the program!

Today’s program is…

Inspiring Garden Writers Who Published Books After They Turned Fifty.

Did you know that Ida D. Bennett was over 50 when she wrote two of her books? “The Busy Woman’s Garden Book” published by Small, Maynard & Company, 1920, and “The Making of a Flower Garden” published by Frederick A. Stokes Company, New York, 1919. Most sources indicate Bennett was born in 1860, but at least one source indicates she may actually have been born in 1854, which means she was closer to 49 when she published her first of five books in 1903. One wonders if Bennett changed her year of birth so that she could keep her membership in SGAFO a secret for just awhile longer.

One of our favorite garden writers, Elizabeth Lawrence, was born in 1904. This means that most of her books including A Garden in Winter, The Little Bulbs, and Lob’s Wood were published well after her 50th birthday.

Fast forward to these modern times. Michele Owens, whose own passage to fifty was recorded on the popular blog, Garden Rant, just last week published her book, “Grow the Good Life”. Check out her list of the ten best things about aging as a gardener. I especially like number ten, “I will always have a community, too--the company of other gardeners, who are clearly the wisest and most wonderful people in the world.”

To that we say Amen!

(Imagine resounding applause, hoots and hollers, and a little foot stomping from all present.)

I’m sure there are many other writers and gardeners, and maybe even some non-gardeners, who can inspire us with tales of fun and frolic, meaning and moments, after fifty. Would anyone like to mention someone particularly inspiring, who accomplished something after turning fify?



And now a few words to conclude our meeting.

The point for all our members is that life in the garden, and out of the garden, really is just getting going at fifty. It’s a wonderful time, to be enjoyed and celebrated!

So to all members, we say go forth and show the world that we are a part of a vibrant, active, plant-buying, hoe-wielding, shovel-swinging group of gardening geeks not to be ignored, but to be celebrated and honored.

Thank you. Meeting adjourned. No creaking as you get up. Step lively now, Spring is coming!


Leslie said…
What wonderful pearls of wisdom! A good reminder that we shouldn't chicken out on life as we age but instead embrace and celebrate life.
Donna said…
Carol I enjoyed the meeting...once I passed fifty several years ago I have begun to not count the years.. instead I look ahead with wisdom and love of each day and rarely look back...
p3chandan said…
I have more fun after my 50th birthday and much happier too! Yeaay!
Anonymous said…
A fun meeting, Carol, as usual. Moments and meaning in the garden are more numerous once we have joined this club. Welcome all newbies!
(secret handshake now shown)

Great meeting Carol. One always needs a little encouragement and this post is full of it. I am lucky that my Sister is 10 years older than I. She never lets me say anything about being creaky or getting older as I will never be as old as she is. ha...
cynthia said…
I got married after 50, does that count as an accouplishment.
Great meeting always good to meet new people
carolee said…
Carol, I didn't publish my first book, Herbal Beginnings until approaching 60! Finding as I slow down (every task takes me a bit longer now!) that I'm more observant and actually appreciate the magic miracle of plant growth & beauty more and more!
Robin Ripley said…
What a fun and inspiring post, Carol! (Such fun!) I prefer to keep most people guessing about whether I'm qualified as a member. And yes, I do believe some of my best years are ahead.
Commonweeder said…
I enjoyed this meeting - and enjoyed hearing about authors whose books were not written until they were over 50. Your post does make me wonder whether a May Dreams book will be on the shelves some day.
Kathy said…
I don't know, and I haven't looked it up, but my guess is Eleanor Perenyi was over 50 when she wrote her book. And how about Henry Mitchell? I bet we would find a lot of the gardening classics were written by members of the SGAFO. And yes, I am a member myself. As a matter of fact, I became a member before the society was organized as such.
"It's not about counting the days but making the days count." Fifty is wonderful and it is a time to enjoy the garden of life. I know I am! Wonderful post- and a great inspiration!
Cindy, MCOK said…
I've found lots to crow about since joining the society.my fellow members have proven themselves to be boon companions. There's always something cooking!
Cindy, MCOK said…
I've found lots to crow about since joining the society.my fellow members have proven themselves to be boon companions. There's always something cooking!
Jenna Gayle said…
It'll be quite some time (as in I'll only be 27 tomorrow!) before I am able to officially be in the club, but I enjoyed taking part in the meeting! My Grandmother is a member and has been for quite some time. I do look forward to all the things I will learn in the future. Just thinking about her and her gardening knowledge makes me smile :)
Annie in Austin said…
Kathy beat me to nominating Henry Mitchell as a model for mature garden writers, Carol. He worked in newspapers & magazines for decades, but didn't start writing about gardening until he was almost 50... guess he was about 58 when the columns became a book. So you've got plenty of time!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
Gail said…
The fifties are fabulous as all newcomers will learn~ gail
Rose said…
I'm not famous nor that accomplished, but I am one of those who really didn't start gardening until after I was 50. I've also noticed the majority of those in our Master Gardeners group are well over 50, some in their 80's. I think gardening helps to keep us young!
You younguns got a lot of catching up to do. Garden writer Emily Whaley, Author of MRS. WHALEY AND HER CHARLESTON GARDEN said, at age 72, " I'm just getting my sea legs in my own garden. " At 86, she warned " Life is full of decisions and you'd better not waver or quaver over each one or you'll stress yourself and die young, missing your 70's and 80's - two delightful decades. "

Celia Thaxter, whose garden was made famous by impressionist painter Childe Hassam, wrote AN ISLAND GARDEN at age 59. Ruth Stout, "Matriarch of Mulch " and author of GARDENING WITHOUT WORK -FOR THE AGING< THE BUSY AND THE INDOLENT " wrote well into her 70's and 80's.

Yours truly, who's way ahead of you on the garden path, is aiming to be like her Aunt Ida who kept a home and garden well into her 90's.