New Master Gardener looking forward to teaching and learning
By Deb Walker
Rowan Master Gardener
Now that our final exam is over, this newest Master Gardener class can relax and concentrate on some hands-on learning from our experienced Master Gardener friends and from the multitude of projects we can do to fulfill our volunteer requirements.
I’ve got to admit, that at my age, taking a new course in horticulture was a bit daunting, and the 15 weeks brought a wealth of information. What I liked most about the experience, I think, was the variety in the lessons.
We learned about basic horticulture in one class and then concentrated on fruit trees, soil amendments or lawn maintenance in others. The lectures and examples included insect pests and diseases, landscape design, working with wildlife, home vegetable gardening and field trips to get experience trimming fruit trees and crape myrtle.The slides Darrell Blackwelder presented each week were great examples of the information in the training manual. (My personal favorite was the one showing the “slightly” overgrown trees planted too close to a home. Apparently, reading a label is pretty important when you purchase a plant.)
Knowing what grows here in the county is pretty important, as well. We learned that just because a nursery sells something doesn’t mean it’s intended for a healthy life in the Piedmont. That’s where a Master Gardener’s knowledge and experience comes in, so we have a lot to learn this summer and fall, participating in projects like the West End Horticultural Demonstration Garden, xeriscaping gardens at the library, programs for local schools, workshops, information booths and presentations for community groups. This will give us an opportunity to experience situations where our learning can be expanded.
What’s a good grass to plant? There are experimental plots for us to take care of to find out. How do I propagate garden plants, trim a crape myrtle or grape vine? There’s a workshop on that. How do I attract birds with my flowers? It will be great fun sharing that information with a class, helping students build bluebird boxes.
What plants grow best without a lot of rain? After volunteering to care for the library gardens, we can share that information, too.
An added benefit is becoming part of the Rowan County Master Gardener Association, which meets monthly for educational programs. We should have fun learning from this seasoned group, which is eager to pass on its knowledge. Lots of field trips to nurseries, school and community projects and social gatherings appear to be in the future. During the course, they gave us much-needed support and encouragement, so we all look forward to working with them this year.
Knowing where to look for the answers is almost as much fun as having the answers at our fingertips. As new Master Gardeners, we might not know everything, but we’d love to find out for you. So when you ask us a question this year, our response, most likely will be, “I’ll get back to you on that.” And we will.
Deb Walker has recently completed the Master Gardener Volunteer class.
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