Posts Tagged ‘education’

2017 Youth 1st Place (tie) – Garden Lesson in a Box, Spokane County, WA

Friday, June 9th, 2017


Children and Ladybugs

The Washington State University Spokane County Master Gardeners involved in our Youth Program have created seven core gardening lessons geared toward children in Kindergarten through 6th grade.  These lessons were designed to be presented to the Spokane Public Schools after-school child care program called Express, but they have also been presented at a variety of other locations such as public and private school classrooms, church groups, scout troops, and boys’ and girls’ clubs.  Over the past 11 years, we have given these presentations to over 10,000 children.

Each “Garden Lesson in a Box” consists of a syllabus, list of materials, background resource information, and supplies needed for the presentation, all contained within a portable bin which can be easily transported to the presentation site.  The seven lessons with a brief description of each, are:

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:  Garden Creatures:  Using pictures and life cycle models to start, children are introduced to nine different garden creatures (Colorado potato beetles, banana slugs, ground beetles, earwigs, spiders, aphids, praying mantis, ladybird beetles, and pillbugs/sowbugs) and their significance in the garden.  The children then observe and interact with live specimens.  For safety reasons, the children are allowed to handle only the pillbugs/sowbugs which they have to hunt for in open containers of compost. The children color drawings of the creatures and also plant flower seeds in newspaper pots of soil to take home.
  • Three Sisters:  The children act out the Native American story of the three sisters and learn the importance of corn, beans, and squash to the Native Americans and the principles of companion planting.  The children sow seeds of these three vegetables to take home and also color and label pictures of them.
  • Soil:  Children learn the function of plant roots, observe the different components of soil, and learn the value of compost as a soil amendment.  They hunt for living creatures in partially-decomposed compost and learn the function of each in the decomposition process.  The children color pictures of compost creatures and sow vegetable seeds to take home.  Singing along to the song ‘Dirt Made My Lunch’ by the Banana Slug String Band is a fun part of this lesson.
  • Pollination:  Using large felt diagrams of flowers, the children learn the flower parts and their functions, and the role that pollinators play in seed production and food produc
    Three Sisters lesson

    Three Sisters lesson

    tion for humans.  They observe real beehive components and learn how visits to flowers benefit bees.  They sow flower seeds to take home and also color pictures of flowers.

  • The Seed:  Using pictures and large models of bean seeds, the children learn the major parts of a seed which they then identify by dissecting lima beans.  They learn the conditions that seeds need to sprout, and they observe the process of seed germination in pre-planted demonstration materials.  The children create “Personality Pots’ where they sow seeds of rye or radishes in cups of soil on which they have drawn faces (as the seedlings grow, they create “hair” for the face).
  • Vegetable Garden:  We read the book Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, a Common Core text exemplar and funny story about the edible parts of plants.  Then the children are shown real vegetables and identify which parts are eaten by humans.  Using a 4’x4’ square of brown felt as a garden plot and vegetables made from felt, the children lay out a vegetable garden, learning about spacing, sun exposure, succession planting, and vertical gardening.  The children sow seeds of vegetables to grow at home and draw pictures of their dream vegetable garden.  We also sing along to two songs by the Banana Slug String Band, ‘Sun, Soil, Water, and Air’ and ‘Give Plants a Chance.’
  • Trees:  The children act out a fable about deciduous and evergreen trees and learn about the value of trees for humans.  They examine cross-sections of tree trunks, identifying the major parts, and estimating tree age. They make crayon rubbings of different leaves, examine various tree seeds, and plant maple seeds to take home.

Our seven garden lessons cover a variety of garden topics, but in each one, children sow seeds in pots that they take home.  We feel that growing a plant from seed and caring for that plant is a crucial experience for children, allowing them both to witness the wonder of nature and to experience the responsibility of nurturing a living plant.

Vegetable Garden lesson

Vegetable Garden lesson

When we first decided to develop these garden lessons, we wanted to create affordable, fun activities that children would like doing. The homemade materials (felt boards and figures, felt vegetables, felt flower diagrams, seed models made from clay) were not difficult to design and make and were constructed by Master Gardeners with no crafting experience.  These materials are intriguing to children who love handling them, thus providing a tactile experience which adds to their learning.  Including songs to sing and stories to act out involves the children on an active level which helps to hold their interest and makes the lessons very enjoyable.

Purchased durable supplies include plastic bins (about $15 each), mesh insect cages (about $10 each), ladybird beetle and praying mantis life cycle models (about $6 each), and a portable CD player (about $20).  Supplies that need to be regularly replenished include seeds, potting soil, zipper-lock plastic bags, styrofoam cups for the ‘Personality Pots,’  live ladybird beetles (about $6), and praying mantis egg sacs (about $10).   Live garden creatures other than ladybird beetles are collected by Master Gardeners from their own gardens and compost piles.  Pots for children to sow seeds in are made from old newspapers by the Master Gardeners.  Handouts and pictures to color are easily found on the Internet and printed out.

Having a self-contained lesson enables a Master Gardener to present a lesson with a minimum of preparation.  These lessons can also be modified by the person doing the presentation.  Some presenters like to add more information and some omit certain activities that they are not comfortable with (such as singing a song).  Although the lessons were originally designed for children in grades K-6, they can be, and have been, modified for younger and older children as well.  The presentations are usually 45-60 minutes in length but can be shortened or lengthened depending on the age and number of the children participating.

Children look forward to our presentations and enjoy the time they spend with us.  We regularly receive charming thank-you notes from the children which include comments such as these:  “I like how you taught us. I liked when we did the play. The bugs were cool.”  “I love the fun active games. I loved learning about pollen and good and bad bugs.”  “I like the song you taught us too!”  “You showed us how plants grow.”

We have a lot of fun with the children in these presentations, and especially enjoy seeing their delight at discovering the joys of gardening.


Children and Ladybugs For further information, please contact Tim Kohlhauff at

2017 Youth 1st Place (tie) – Catherine Desourdy School Garden Mentor Program, University of Rhode Island

Friday, June 9th, 2017

Catherine Desourdy School Garden Mentors (SGMs) are specially trained University of Rhode Island (URI) Extension Master Gardeners who volunteer in schools on behalf of URI Cooperative Extension’s School Garden Initiative. This project, which tied for second place in the 2017 Extension Master Gardener Search for Excellence Youth Category, cultivates a love of nature, a respect for all living things, and a foundation in natural sciences for school-aged youth. Over sixty schools in Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut have partnered with URI Master Gardeners to help children of all ages learn about the world around them and how to become its stewards.

The award will be given on July 11 at the General Session of the International Master Gardener Conference in Portland, Oregon.  The Search for Excellence is the recognition program for outstanding Extension Master Gardener projects throughout the United States, Canada and South Korea.

The garden at Waddington Elementary in East Providence, Rhode Island, has helped the children feel closer to nature and empowered to help protect it.  Art teacher/ URI Master Gardener Melissa Guillet has them study live insects and draw and make models from specimens. They look for evidence of tracks, scat, and homes, plant veggies, share salad, soups, and teas with their produce, and learn to work as a team.  They learn how seeds travel, seeking seeds out in the fall, and design their own seed packs.  They make art out of leaves and identify trees.  It’s non-stop exploration at this school, even measuring soil moisture and rainfall to track el Nino for GLOBE and NASA and designing their own anemometers!  They do this all through collaborations with URI Master Gardeners Desourdy School Gardens program, Barrington Land Trust, ASRI, parents, other volunteers, and the environmental curriculum developed by Melissa Guillet through 15 Minute Field Trips™.

Hamilton Elementary School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, focused more exclusively on sustainable “green” gardening practices. Everyone learned about the importance of companion planting and its Abenaki Native American origins at the school’s Three Sisters Garden. Later, they planted a square-foot garden bed and harvested food for nearby food pantries.

Two hundred Cluny Elementary School children, in Newport, Rhode Island, gardened in the winter by planting seeds under hoop coverings and in ziplock bags, which were placed in milk containers in the snow. They also planted a raspberry patch and apple trees. At their plant sale students made $80 selling their own lettuce and that money was used in other school garden projects.  They hope to create a rain garden next year and hook up rain barrels to water their beds.

The School Garden Mentor project is named for the late URI Master Gardener, Catherine Desourdy, whose family made a bequest in her name after her death in 2008.  Its main purpose has been to connect youth to gardening. More than 13,000 children have learned to value growing locally, to understand the importance of vegetables in a healthy diet, the role of pollinators and beneficial insects, the need to recycle, and the stages of growth in plants, among other things. As Vanessa Venturini, URI Master Gardener State Program Leader says, “School gardens serve as living laboratories, giving students access to authentic learning environments to help them learn science, math, social studies and other concepts.”

Testimonies from those taking part prove her point. One teacher cites overhearing a boy instructing his grandfather on the importance of planting marigolds to “keep the bad bugs away” instead of spraying seedlings, which would “kill the bees and the good bugs” as well. Another recounts the responses of first graders to learning about vermicomposting, “We didn’t really like worms but now that we know how important they are to helping our earth and our garden grow, we love them.”

More than fifty URI Master Gardeners currently serve as mentors, with more interns training each year. A team of regional “School Garden Mentor Managers”organize and support the mentors.  School garden Mentors assist classroom teachers in a number of ways:

  • Bringing together school garden teams consisting of teachers, staff, parents and students to ensure long-term success and continuity;
  • Helping them make decisions in the garden such as choosing a site and selecting appropriate plants
  • Completing soil tests and making recommendations for amending beds prior to planting
  • Providing access to standards-based curricula for use in the garden classroom
  • Supplying school gardens with donations of seeds and seedling donations for pollinator and vegetable gardens
  • Making available the URI Gardening & Environmental Hotline, URI Plant Clinic and other URI Cooperative Extension resources to troubleshoot

The first School Garden Mentors volunteered in three suburban elementary schools in 2011.  Since then the project has expanded to include public and private schools, reaching K-12 students in urban and rural areas as well. As of 2016, a partnership has developed between URI Cooperative Extension and the Providence Public School District to develop and support school gardens on a district level.  This School Garden Initiative has generated best practices which are then shared through continuing education classes designed for School Garden Mentors working statewide.






2017 Community Service 3rd Place – The Barn’s CommUnity Garden, Lehigh/Northampton Counties, PA

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

You might think that a garden program about community gardening would be about how, when and why you should plant particular crops. But, this program involves using gardening as a means to build bridges in our community for the well-being

whole groupof our community. When one contemplates the homeless, our veterans, and food insufficiency in the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, it is life changing when those who are able become positive social change agents. My name is Dr. Robert Yoder and I have sought to be socially conscious of my neighbor far and wide serving as a short term missionary dentist in Honduras for six years, building homes on the Gulf coast post Katrina and  in a variety of short term mission trips but I felt this subtle tug that I should be doing more locally. I thought perhaps as a Penn State Master Gardener, I could weave my skill set and invite others to join me in community gardening. So seven years ago, I began to recruit volunteers and found the Christian community “The Barn”, currently worshipping at Swain School, willing to rise to the challenge.

The initiative began with a simple wonderment: “Could we create a community garden that intentionally brought people together to grow food for the hungry in our community?” Even better, “Could recipients of the food grown, participate in the very garden that benefitted them?” We began with 2 plots graciously donated by Lower Macungie Township. Three additional Master Gardeners and 40 volunteers of all experience levels signed up to help and learn. Immediately, friendships developed, fun ensued, and the satisfaction of walking alongside our neighbor, revealed we were onto something bigger than ourselves. The produce from the first year was modest in pounds (around 500 lbs.), but the community that was being built, both in the garden and reaching into center city Allentown was beyond description.

Fast forward six years and we now have 7 garden plots with active material and monetary support from our major donor, Home Depot, and  additional financial support from Tractor Supply, Emmaus Borough, The Muslim Assoc. of the Lehigh Valley, Wal-Mart, The Barn Community, Lower Macungie Township planting with the kidsand the Master Gardeners of the Lehigh Valley. In addition, we now have broader community involvement  including 7 worshipping communities and over 175 volunteers. Leadership is provided by 11 Master gardeners assigned to each of the gardens.

The 2016  initiative  included involving our veterans who too often have lost meaning in life and we find some aiml s and  homeless. Also consider, in 2012 the Department of Veterans Affairs conducted a study which discovered for 10 years running, there was an average of 18-22 veteran suicides per day in the United States. Can we use the community garden to give them a way of engaging community that offers new purpose? Additionally, we were broadening efforts of interfaith cooperation by involving Muslims, Christians and Jews, all working together in the garden to show the world a better way forward. To that end, we now have the Jewish temples Beth El and Kenneseth Israel, the Christian churches “The Barn” and “Life Church” of Nazareth along with two Muslim worshipping communities at “Muslim Assoc. of the Lehigh Valley” and  a young vital Muslim community in Alburtis all working together, building community and growing vegetables.

Last year we raised almost 4500 lbs. of fresh produce which now benefits two Lehigh Conference of Church’s social outreach ministries: DayBreak and the Soup Kitchen at 8twith tthe participantsh and Walnut Street. We hope with continued growth to make a greater impact.

Looking ahead , 2017 has more new initiatives including new involvement of a Sikh community to broaden our community building. Second, we are trying to incorporate the youth of each of these worshipping communities in three exciting ways. In Spring, in a round table sharing format, we plan to have a youth program including a potluck meal of foods of each community’s ethnic background, seedling starting, a time of sharing their favorite religious foods and holidays in their traditions. This in an effort to teach tolerance and appreciation  of the other at a young age. In Summer, we will have a week of youth involvement in direct garden care. Adult mentors will work side by side with the youth to teach gardening skills.  In Fall, in correlation with the Jewish holiday Sukkot, we will initiate a gleaning project at “The Seed Farm” with kids working side by side with folks from the center city, the very people all the garden goods go to help with the food insecurity of the Lehigh Valley.

Logistically, a typical growing season would begin with willing volunteers raising seedlings like tomatoes, peppers and broccoli starting in late February. This group of seedling growers includes folks from the center city to the suburbs. It gives the wonder of spring early to families with young children and the homeless that find shelter at DayBreak. They maintain and grow the seedlings to maturity, then help in the transplanting in one of the seven community gardens when winter finally gives up its grip in mid-May.

Weekly teams of volunteers then tend, harvest, laugh, test out a sugar pea or two and take pictures of the produce being grown. All through the process a more important thing is happening: community is being knit into a beautiful tapestry. We are working side by side to make a positive difference in our community. You know you have struck a beautiful chord when in one hand you have the day’s harvest and in the other you are hugging a new found friend who comes from a completely different life situation than you do. Imagine a Jewish woman with kids working side by side with a Muslim woman’s kids. We have indeed grown CommUnity and the forecast for this year’s growing season is one full of love and care for neighbor. We are showing the world a better way forward.

                                                                                                out in the garden workingthe producegiving instructions

A Visit to ‘Seed Savers Exchange-Heritage Farm’

Monday, March 16th, 2015

After work on Friday, September 26th, 2014 I drove 6.5 hours to Decorah, Iowa so that I could attend the ‘Seed Savers Exchange’ Fall Harvest School.  It was a long drive, but very well worth it.  The one-day workshop promised lessons on seed saving, fall gardening, canning, and fermentation.

Seed Savers' Heritage Farm

Seed Savers’ Heritage Farm

         A Beautiful Drive

Lilliam Goodman Visitors' Center

Lilliam Goodman Visitors’ Center

Unfortunately darkness had descended so I was unable to fully appreciate the scenery of my drive, nor did I get to enjoy the transition from the flat plains of southeast Nebraska to the glorious rolling hills and gentle mountains that awaited near Minnesota.

Starfire Signet Marigolds

Beautiful Orange Blossoms

Beautiful Orange Blossoms

Teaching Garden at Heritage Farm

Teaching Garden at Heritage Farm

Heaven on Earth

‘Heritage Farm’ is beyond beautiful and is the headquarters of ‘Seed Savers Exchange’. Located six miles north of Decorah, Iowa, the farm sits on 890 acres and boasts itself (according to the website) a “living museum of historic varieties”.  Thousands of heirlooms are grown organically on-site in the Preservation Gardens along with a Historic Orchard home to many near-extinct apple and grape varieties.  The farm is one of only two locations in North America where Ancient White Park Cattle may be seen.  Surrounded by stately cliffs and enormous pines, the rustic red barn and accompanying gardens looks a lot like paradise.

A Full Day of Lessons  

The Fall Workshop started bright and early with visitors from all over crowded in and around the ‘Lillian Goldman Visitors Center’.  Attendees were divided into smaller groups and the day’s schedule was broken down accordingly.

The first class I attended was on fermentation, a subject I knew absolutely nothing about.  The lecturing nutritionist shared recipes for homemade coleslaw, fermented beet juice, and many tips and tricks.

The second class was on seed saving.  Attendees were taken to the nearby teaching gardens, where we were instructed on how to harvest, save, and store seeds from beans, peas, melon, squash, and tomatoes.  We were given free-reign of the teaching gardens and allowed to harvest some seeds at-will.  Despite the gardening season obviously winding down and winter soon approaching, the teaching gardens were still gorgeous and I was exposed to so many new varieties of both flower and vegetable that I had never seen nor heard of before.  I went home with a few Radish and Dill seeds, some yellow Drumstick, Hungarian Blue Breadseed Poppy, and gorgeous burgundy Amaranth seeds, which can be enjoyed as both a cereal grain and as a garden ornamental.

Following lunch were classes on canning/food preservation and preparing the fall garden for the following spring.  Visitors saw demonstrations of proper bed clean-up and division of perennials, and discussed the use of nutrient-enriching cover crops.

Seed Shopping!!!  



Following the classes, this blogger lingered to talk with fellow attendees and like-minded gardeners, and patronized the ‘Visitors Center’ where all 2014 seed packets were on sale.  I somewhat maintained restraint and stuck to my shopping list, but did allow for several added varieties (They were on sale!) that I had fallen in love with on-site, which were displayed in the gardens.  I could not leave without having purchased seeds for the brilliant, tall ‘Purple Verbena’ that I had seen covered by masses of butterflies, nor could I leave without the ‘Black-Eyed Susan Vine’ and the prolific ‘Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden Gate’, which will add an abundance of charm and cheery pink color to my front flower garden this coming season.

This blogger urges anyone able to visit the ‘Seed Savers Exchange-Heritage Farm’ to do so.  I left awed by the majestic beauty, inspired by the bountiful gardens, and determined to practice the art of seed saving as I was taught on that day.

Glorious Trees at Seed Savers


Please visit to learn more!

Here’s Why Trees

Friday, April 26th, 2013

It’s Arbor Day for much of the country.  People across the nation will be planting trees.  But have you ever really considered why we plant trees?  Most of us who will plant trees either today or sometime during the year are not major forest landowners planting trees as part of our business plan.

Most folks are like me and probably you.  Ordinary folks plant trees for lots of reasons.  Some are practical to provide shade on hot summer days, and others are less vital reasons, such as to hang a swing in. One critical reason to plant trees around homes is that it can reduce energy consumption.  Research shows that mature trees shading a house can reduce energy consumption for air conditioning by more than 50 percent.  Trees in the home landscape provide other important benefits including controlling erosion and reducing stormwater runoff.

Why Trees video by Alabama Cooperative Extension

‘Why Trees ?’ video encourages more homeowners to consider planting trees.

encourages homeowners and cities to consider planting more trees.

But that’s at the individual level.  What about why should cities plant trees? It’s a question that city governments struggle to answer during tough economic times. Planting trees is an important consideration for many communities. Tree planting and maintenance budgets are often the first to go in tough economic times, and advocates for trees need sound arguments to convince elected officials.

Why Trees Video

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System tackled this question in its “Why Trees?” video. The video, available on YouTube, encourages homeowners and cities to consider planting more trees.  Two Extension forestry professionals did the research and crafted the script behind the video.

This video, using free-hand drawing and time-lapse video, is commonly referred to as a lecture doodle. It is both fun and engaging with a goal of educating and promoting advocacy for planting trees. It is an excellent educational tool for events as diverse a town-hall meeting, a Master Gardener meeting or a school classroom.

The video provides an understanding of the benefits urban trees provide to the economy, the environment and society.  Some research indicates that communities with shaded streets and parks have a stronger sense of community than cities with fewer trees. Other studies point towards lower crimes rates as urban forest canopies and maintained landscapes increase.

Economically, shops located around mature trees have shown a 12 percent increase in sales. Shoppers perceive these shops as having better merchandise and will travel larger distances to visit these businesses. In addition, homes with mature trees in the front lawn increase property values by as much as 20 percent. That’s right, healthy mature trees can add value to your home and residential property.

However, there are more than societal and economic benefits. Trees in urban landscapes have been found to lower incidences of asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and shorten hospitals stays. Basically, as urban forest canopies increase so does people’s health and well-being.

The “Why Trees?” video provides an excellent synopsis of the benefits of urban trees. So the questions should not be “Why Trees?” but rather “Why Not More Trees?”.  Perhaps, it’s a conversation Master Gardeners can lead in their communities.

To watch “Why Trees?” check out this link:

By: Maggie Lawrence and Beau Brodbeck with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System

What’s New at the Portland Oregon Yard, Garden and Patio Show for 2013?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Gardeners in the Pacific Northwest are lucky to have mild winters. The winter of 2013 has been milder -and drier – than usual.

Fairy gardens continue to be popular in Northwest gardens. Tiny garden furniture and plants are now easily found in garden centers.

Fairy gardens continue to be popular in Northwest gardens. Tiny garden furniture and plants are now easily found in garden centers.

We can often begin our gardening chores in mid-February, pruning our roses for the first time around President’s Day. We are also lucky to have some wonderful early spring gardening shows to entice us back to our gardens.

Seattle’s Northwest Flower and Garden Show is world famous.  Portland has two shows in February: the Yard, Garden and Patio Show and the Home and Garden Show. Both are equally good, but I seem to be in Portland around the time of the YGP Show more often than the Home and Garden Show, so that is the one I attend most often. The YGP Show is also geared more for gardeners and less for home do-it-yourselfers, so I naturally gravitate to that one for that reason as well.

Intriguing Seminars

The YGP had three days of seminars and there were some wonderful speakers. Famous garden writers such as Linda Beutler, Lucy Hardiman and Debra Prinzing gave seminars on everything from attracting birds to our gardens to growing our own bouquets.

Pacific Northwest growers like Dan Heims of Terra Nova Plants taught us how to use traditional plants in new ways and Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery showed us how to use native plants to their best advantage in our native gardens.

Honestly, I could have spent the whole day (or all three days) just sitting in seminars listening to these wonderful people talk about their respective passions. And isn’t it always fun to be around people that love plants and gardening as much as you do? But there was so much more to see and do.

Lots of PNW garden designers and specialty nurseries and growers are on hand with new products for the garden, both plants and garden accoutrements. The theme of this year’s show was “Gardening Through the Ages,” and garden designers took us from the turn of the last century through the 1950’s and into the 21stcentury in seven lovely gardens.

Plants for 2013: The Tried-And-True?!

New plants? Not so much. Lots of tried-and-true ones though. Instead of the yellow- and red-twigged dogwoods of several years ago, there were lots of witch hazels (Hamamelis species) used as winter interest. I didn’t notice any new Heuchera, either. Only the Heucherella ‘Sweet Tea’ from last year’s show. I was able to find these last year in a lot of nurseries so I expect to find them everywhere this season.

Conifers are still “big”, even when they are small as in dwarf varieties. Gardeners seem to be catching on to using these versatile plants as staples in a year round planting. As a result, growers are developing smaller trees with variegated leaf patterns to make them more appealing in home landscapes.

This year, because the show was on the early side, I didn’t see as many blooming flowers as usual. Instead, designers were using a lot of foliage plants, conifers and garden art to bring color to their designs. One garden, “21stCentury Modern Garden” -created by Treeline Designz and Green Pro LLC- used a blue-branched specimen as a focal point. And boy, was it a focal point! I asked designer Iftikhar Ahmed what type of tree it was and was pleased to find they had painted the trunk and branches of a maple with a blue vegetable dye just for the show. The dye would wash off in the next good rain, but inside for the show, it made for an unusual and fun color statement. It would be great as a backdrop to a wedding or other special occasion. But as much as I love blue, I honestly I can’t say I would want a blue tree in my garden all year round.

A dyed blue tree in the garden would give a unique focal point for a party. This vegetable dye will wash off in a good rain.

Succulents grace the back of a set of four chairs. How’s this for a project?

Succulents have also reached new heights of popularity, thus some of the available varieties make the term “hen and chicks” seem inadequate as a description. These easy, versatile plants were found potted up in everything from shallow wooden boxes to old enameled cookware to the backs of chairs. Not really new plants, just new ways of using them.

Of course, just because I didn’t find much in the way of brand-new plants doesn’t mean I didn’t have a successful shopping spree! A ‘Kramer’s Rote’ heather, an ‘Ivanetti’ dahlia and an epimedium ‘Bandit’ will all be gracing my gardens this summer. I can’t wait!

  • Have you visited your local garden show this winter?
  • What plants were you surprised to find?
  • Did you find anything you “had to have” for your garden?

~ Carla Albright,  Tillamook County Oregon Master Gardener

Wordless Wednesday: Jefferson County Master Gardeners Create Garden for Local Charity

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012


International Master Gardener Conference sprouts into West Virginia for first time

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

The countdown is on!  In just 5 days over 1000 Master Gardeners and friends of Master Gardeners will descend upon the capital city of West Virginia.  Folks are coming from 43 states (not sure which ones aren’t included), two Canadian provinces and three countries will come together to celebrate “green” gardening next week.  A delegation of folks from South Korea will be among their number, exploring ways to start the Master Garener program in their country

The conference, in coordination with the West Virginia University Extension Service focuses on “green” gardening and will feature talks from educators and leaders in the horticulture industry, such as Joe Lamp’l from public TVs “Growing a Greener World”, Barbara Pleasant from “Mother Earth News”, and Anna Ball from Ball Horticultural Company .

Conference attendees will gather for a “Taste of West Virginia” at the opening reception on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The meal features locally-grown and produced foods. Local favorites, like ramp chowder and smoked trout, appear on the menu. The reception is sponsored by Bob’s Market & Greenhouses, Inc., which is a major greenhouse producer for the east coast that grows hundreds of millions (yes, you read that right) of plugs for companies like Ball Horticulture.

Attendees will visit more than 30 breakout sessions on topics ranging from diagnosing soil problems to planting edible landscapes. The conference theme is “Color it Green in a Wild and Wonderful Way.”

Keynote speakers’ topics include “Trends in Horticulture” by Anna Caroline Ball; “The Layered Landscape” by Rick Darke; and “Growing a Greener World” by Joe Lamp’l.

The conference is sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company, the West Virginia Master Gardener Association and WVU Extension Service.

For more information, visit


John Porter

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent

WVU Extension Service – Kanawha County

Green Event Turns Silver

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

As the lines of people lengthened, we knew the 25th anniversary of the Spring Affair Plant sale was going to be a good one.  For 25 years a plant sale has grown and grown.  This sale was started with the intent in mind to educate the gardeners of Nebraska of native and adapted plants to our unique growing region.

A combined effort of Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension and the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture, and the Nebraska Forest Service pitch in and develop a plant list of almost 900 plants months in advance of the sale.  As the sale grows near, the steering committee begins to organize all aspects of the day!  A group of over two hundred volunteers are assigned jobs, from unloading the two semi-trucks full of plants on Thursday, helping the 3500 people who attended the sale, to cleaning up the last bit of spilled soil after the sale on Saturday!

During the sale, the steering committee has a group of professionals lined up to do 45 minutes seminars in a classroom and 20 minutes ‘Talk-a-bouts’ by many of the steering committee members focusing on plants right there on the sale floor.  Our goal to inform and educate gardeners on plants that are adapted to the area is not only during the sale.  The proceeds of the sale go to support the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum affiliate site program and other educational programs supported by the representative groups.

This sale would not be possible without all of the help and support from Bluebird Nursery in Clarkson, NE (, the 200 volunteers, and the steering committee with members from Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension ( and the Department of Agronomy and Horticulture ( and the Nebraska Forest Service (

Terri James Extension Assistant – Urban Gardening, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Volunteers shopping early!

Spring Affair Plant Sale, an opportunity to provide education on using native and adapted plants unique to the Nebraska growing region.