Well, it’s official! I am a Master Gardener! I’ve worked alongside and admired these volunteers while at the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension. Here’s an article I wrote about the program!
Today, I began my journey to be a Delaware Master Gardener. I first heard about the Master Gardener program in 1994, when I entered my city back yard in a garden tour contest (I didn’t win anything) but I got on a mailing list and received information about the program.
Fast forward to 2001 when I began a new career at the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I learned about the Master Gardener volunteers who help extend university research to the public. My new career coincided with a new home, three-quarter acre plot without a shrub, flower or tree, so I was eager to absorb the many fact sheets made available to the public.
Over the past 20 years I’ve gotten to know and admire the people involved in this program. I’ve certainly enjoyed spending my lunch breaks in their demonstration garden, and as my position officially switched to communications, helping to promote their workshops and outreach events such as their open house. I’ve also been thrilled to be a part of their many celebrations and hallmark anniversaries.
I’ve long known that gardeners are incredibly generous people. They love creating, growing and sharing. Getting to know the Master Gardeners affiliated with our land grant university only strengthened my opinions.
I wanted to be a part of their ranks!
While I know a lot about Cooperative Extension, and have learned through the successes and mistakes of my own garden, I am eager to have the formal training that this program will provide.
Because of COVID and the danger looming over the Delta variant, we will be receiving our 12 weeks of training via Zoom.
I am looking forward to sharing my journey here each week, sharing the resources that will be taught to my class via Extension professionals.
I am very lucky to work in very close proximity to the Sussex County Master Gardeners, who are a volunteer corps of Cooperative Extension. I am not sure how many are in currently active in the county, but judging from their monthly meetings, we have more than 100 active volunteers. Each talented individual brings something unique to their volunteer service. We have Master Gardeners who write press releases, others who do training of staff and administrative work. Many go out into the community and teach at libraries and garden centers. Others answer phones on our seasonal helpline, and a large portion work in a teaching garden, known as the Demonstration Garden. Recently my office moved toward the back of the building and my window overlooks the hydrangea section. I can see University of Delaware’s blue and gold tent, under which many free or very low cost workshops are offered during nice weather.
The Demonstration Garden is open to the public, who benefit from the clearly marked flowers, annuals, trees, shrubs and specialty attractions. Each year, something in the garden is added and changed. A big emphasis in the last few years or so has been on Accessible Gardening, or “Making Gardening Smart and Easy” by incorporating raised beds, pulleys and the many tools that are available to encourage gardening at any age. I can still bend over and kneel to weed and dig, but it is going to get harder as I age. Good to know these resources are around. Nothing should stop anyone from gardening! Sussex County Master Gardeners do however, have one special day, their Open House, this year on Saturday, July 13, when the Master Gardeners will be there in force, to answer questions, conduct workshops, sharpen tools and share their enthusiasm and knowledge. There is something for everyone; a children’s garden, with fun things to touch, taste and smell, a shade garden, and if I am not mistaken, a beautiful contemplative garden too.
When I retire, and if they’ll have me, I will sign up for the intensive and very thorough training offered by both University of Delaware and Delaware State University’s experts. In the meantime, I am content to drift past the flowers and sneak a couple of photos on my lunch hour! If you are in the area on July 13, you can too! Here’s more information on the Sussex Master Gardener Open House and here is a link to pictures I took at the 2012 event.
Photos taken with my old Nikon D50, kit lens 55-200mm