I will hearken back here to the 1950s and early 1960s.
My mother loved gardens and flowers, and my father loved gardening and vegetables. Between the two of them, they passed on their love in ways that have resulted in the planting of gardens in 14 countries (that I know of) and many more expressions of the love for plants and gardens.
Much to our youthful chagrin (that of my 2 brothers and me), my mother's flower garden became an annual "pilgrimage" for classes from our grade school. My father's vegetable garden sometimes figured in these tours, but not always. Mother grew "odd" plants that no one else grew then, although they now seem commonplace on DG!
She came from a "fine" family before she married my father, a "common millworker".
She would have loved to belong to a garden club.
And she tried.
There were two in our small city : one on the "South Side", very exclusive and very wealthy; another on the "North Side", not so wealthy nor so exclusive, but aspiring.
Although my grandmother -- my mother's mother -- belonged to the latter, my mother was never admitted to either club.
"Well, she lives in rather an unacceptable part of town, don't you think, Bertha?" they would say to my grandmother.
I am so pleased to have found DG, where we mostly don't know (other than by country, State and/or town) where anyone comes from; whether they live in a trailer or a mansion; what colour or race they are; but just that they love to garden.
Mama gave a love of flowers and gardens to all of her kids and, I have good reason to believe, to quite a few other kids in our "bad" neighbourhood who used to come visit her and traded bulbs and seeds with her for decades.
But she was not welcome to join the local garden clubs, whose members, I suspect, didn't allow the traffic of so many "lost" kids in their gardens.
Well, I have no doubt in my mind which of these (Garden Clubs or my excluded mother) were the greater force for good, then or, as the ripples play out, now.
So, I really have to ask : Have Times Changed SO Much?
Would Mama be welcome in the Northside Garden Club today?
I get back to the US and my old home town about every 2 years. I was last there in November.
From what I can see, the answer is a definite "NO!"
Mother would still not be welcome in one of these formal garden clubs. They still don't admit members from our "side of the tracks".
I think your first impression was correct, with some slight editing : "garden clubs [a]re nothing more than groups of prissy ladies who" exclude others who are not "like" them.
My Mother-in law was a charter member of our gareden club after her son and I were married she asked me to join the club also, I did when was 18 years old, now I am 80 years old and still belong to it, most of what I know about flowers, shrubs and trees I learned there. Many classes were offered I even one some blue ribbons through the years.