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The Garden Scoop

Featuring weekly articles by Ryan Pankau, University of Illinois Horticulture Educator.
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Why Become A Master Gardener?

When I am in the company of Master Gardeners I never cease to be humbled by their versatility and the sheer amount of knowledge and talent they possess. They come from all walks of life and are passionate about all aspects of gardening. Their interests cover everything from flowers and vegetables to herbs, gourds and beekeeping. There are novice and experienced gardeners in the program and all are there to learn. Perhaps, the biggest benefit to being a Master Gardener is having the opportunity to constantly discover more about a subject one can never know everything about.

Master Gardener interns attend one class a week for ten weeks beginning in late January. It is the perfect time of year to be planning next summer's garden. Each class covers a different garden related topic like flowers, soil, composting, insects, vegetables etc. University of Illinois educators teach the classes from a manual developed for people gardening in the state of Illinois. The State of Illinois has over 3,000 Master Gardeners!

Master Gardener can be found at numerous community gardens. They work with veterans, children and senior citizens. In Vermilion County they hold an annual Garden Day Workshop/ Spring Festival each March, Plant Sale in May and Garden Walk each June. They host a radio program on Wednesdays, monthly garden classes on topics like raised beds, herbs, tomatoes, garden design and invasive plants that are open to the public. They raise over 1,000 pounds of fresh vegetables for the local food pantry each year. Funds generated by Master Gardeners go back into their community projects; educating the public, and raising an interest in gardening.

Gardeners are always excited to find new and unusual plants. We can never resist adding one more perennial to our garden. It is this variety of plants that adds color, texture and beauty to the landscape. A garden with just one or two flowers would be oh so boring. It is the constant change and diversity that we enjoy because a garden is above all else a living entity. Interns represent new plants in the garden and we welcome them with anticipation and delight.



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