(April 2004) Having a green thumb is not a requirement for
students enrolled in the Master Gardener Program, but most have been
bitten by the gardening bug in one form or another. Whether seasoned
seniors or novice freshmen, all participants share a desire to attain
a more in-depth knowledge of gardening.
The original Master Gardener Program began as a national program
in 1972 in Seattle. Since the late 1980s, the University of Kentucky
Cooperative Extension Service has run the Kentucky Master Gardeners
Program. Its a 16-week intensive gardening course,
said instructor Tim McClure, Shelby County Cooperative Extension Agent
McClure works with Oldham County Horticultural Agent Ron Thomas to
educate students beyond garden club basics. The Shelby County class
joins with an Oldham County class, meeting in each location on alternating
weeks. Students have also come from Trimble and Spencer counties to
participate in this program.
This years class began Feb. 5, and McClure said he preferred
a spring class as opposed to a fall class. Topics to be covered, such
as tree pruning, will coincide with whats going on outside,
For a fee of $125, 25 students receive a manual, handouts and other
related material to further their interest in gardening and the role
it plays in their own community. Topics covered may include botany,
soils and pesticides, propagation, landscape design, vegetable gardening,
trees and shrubs, woody plants, annuals and perennials, fruits, home
composting and organic gardening. There are quizzes throughout the
course. A final written exam must be passed to obtain Master Gardener
Thomas said this program is really a continuing education program
that most students take for their own personal satisfaction.
It provides intensive training in the science of horticulture and
practical use, he said.
In exchange for their many hours of instruction, graduates are required
to give 40 hours of community volunteer service. Thomas said it is
this aspect of community service that draws many gardeners
and would-be gardeners to the program. Many of the students are highly
motivated to invest their time and money into a program that will
in turn provide aesthetic beauty to the community.
left, Paulette Gird, June Ezman
and Jean Olson plant flowers at Yew
Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., as part
of the Master Gardeners program.
In Oldham County, Master Gardener graduates have given back to the
community in a variety of ways. Several gardeners have joined with
a local elementary school to construct a naturalized planting area
close to the school, and a vegetable project was implemented at the
middle school level. A number of Master Gardeners volunteer their
knowledge and manpower at Yew Dell Gardens in Crestwood, Ky., during
monthly volunteer days.
Ann Corts is one of the Yew Dell volunteers and said her efforts have
gone toward cleaning out and pulling weeds because the property had
not been maintained after owner Theodore Klein passed away in 1998.
Corts chose to volunteer at Yew Dell because it was local and a
great place. Theres a lot of plant material there.
Although a lot of work has been accomplished so far, Corts said she
is eager to see the gardens when they come to fruition. Her interest
in gardening led her to Yew Dell, but it is the excitement of the
end result that gratifies her and other Master Gardeners.
Corts became involved in the program on the suggestion of Thomas.
She had just moved into a new home and was undecided on how to landscape
it. After Thomas looked at her property, he suggested she take the
Master Gardeners program to learn first-hand how to care for her property.
In addition, Corts is a member of Oldham Countys Green Thumbs
Garden Club, which educates members through tours and speakers.
Many participants of the Master Gardener Program have been gardening
for many years, said McClure. They desire to obtain a more scientific
knowledge of their hobby or passion.
Crestwood resident Karla Drover has wanted to take the Master Gardeners
Program for 20 years but has never been able to because of time restraints
While living in Texas, the closest program was more than an hours
drive away. She often managed to work her hobby into every job she
had. You figure out ways to incorporate what you love into what
you do, she said.
Nichols and Tim McClure of
Shelby County's Master Gardener program.
Drover, who is halfway through the program, said the expertise she
has gained so far has been beneficial. She has learned things through
this program that she wished she had known when she began gardening
30 years ago. Drover said it is a worthwhile program.
Local extension agents invest the time and effort to make it a great
program, she said. Drover has volunteered at Yew Dell Gardens and
said there are lots of volunteer opportunities in the Louisville area,
such as Brightside and Cedar Lake Homes. Many facilities would like
to have help with property maintenance, she said.
The classes provide a good basis, from which to start,
said Lisa Davis. Davis is president of the Shelby County Master Gardeners
Association, a non- profit organization that formed to provide
a gardening service, said Davis.
Master Gardeners are more than willing to share their knowledge after
completing the course. They are trained to assist the local extension
offices, said Davis.
One completed project the Association has donated time to was the
establishment of planters in the downtown district of Shelbyville.
Master Gardeners are presently constructing an arboretum at Clear
Creek Park in Shelbyville. Students collaborate on as many hands-on
projects as possible, said Thomas.
Davis said she would never have had the opportunity to work on the
arboretum project if it were not for the Master Gardeners program.
The Master Gardeners will hold their fourth annual Garden Fair from
9 a.m.-2 p.m. on April 24 at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.
Master Gardener volunteers pant
flowers at Sacred Heart Gardens
in Floyd County, Ind.
Lonnie Mason, Jefferson County, Ind., Extension Agent for Horticulture,
said he sees a wide range of students participating in the Indiana
Master Gardener Program. Students enrolled in the program range in
age from early 20s to 70s, he said.
Those taking the class gain a wide variety of gardening knowledge
in the form of personal knowledge. It is a good way to
fellowship with other gardeners and network, Mason said. The program
is held in the Madison area every other year, and a new class will
either begin Fall 2004 or January 2005.
The Indiana Master Gardeners Program has existed for 14 years. Paulette
Gird of Oldham County, Ky., completed the program sponsored by Purdue
University through the Floyd County, Ind., Extension Program and described
herself as having been an avid gardener all my life.
She has volunteered at many Floyd County, Ind., sites, such as the
Falls of the Ohio, Floyd County Memorial Hospital, and Mount St. Francis.
There are 14 different support sites for the Indiana program, and
each site has to be approved by the program sponsor, she said.
Every state has a Master Gardener Program, said Gird.
Every hour of classroom time has to be matched with an hour of volunteer
service. It is a Master Gardeners responsibility to teach
and support the community, she said.
For instance, in Northern Kentucky, Master Gardeners from Kentucky
and Ohio in June 2003 placed flowering pots all along the new Purple
Bridge, a walking bridge over the Ohio River near Newport that opened
last year. More than 45 master gardeners took part in the project
during the International Master Gardeners Conference held in Cincinnati.
The gardeners added hundreds of plants and flowers to beautify the
redesigned pedestrian bridge.
A lot of people were choosing to go on tours, but I just prefer
more hands-on things, said gardener Don Parker of West Salem,
Ohio, said at the time. This is the fun part of gardening
to get your hands into it.
The bridge project was a joint effort by the UK Cooperative Extension
Service offices in Boone, Campbell and Kenton Counties, along with
Ohio State University Extension and the OSU horticulture department.
To promote the Master Gardener Program, many Master Gardeners participate
in such Indiana events as the Indiana Flower and Patio Show and State
Fair. Hospice, Haven House and a Youth Gardening Program are also
ways Master Gardeners can give back to the community.
Contact the Oldham County Extension Office at (502) 222-9453,
the Shelby County Extension Office at (502) 633-4593, or the Jefferson
County, Ind., Extension Office at (812) 265-8919.