Master Gardeners power garden, landscape education

Harvey Taylor teaches gardening to kids through the Junior Master Gardener club that he leads.

Sherry Warner works with children in the Foundation for Youth garden, connecting the dots between the tomato plants and the pizza the children will make from the fruits.

Laura McCracken uses her considerable teaching experience to show preschool teachers best methods for gardening success with preschoolers.

Master Gardeners teach adults, too.

In programs at the Bartholomew County Public Library, tables and booths at events, and in editing our own Master Gardener Newsletter, they offer garden education in many forms. There are even opportunities to help at county and state fairs or to participate in state, national and international Master Gardener events.

Even better, these folks have a great time. One might pick up a volunteer assignment with a friend or make new friends along the way. Social events are part of the Master Gardener year, and — especially given the gardening skills — the food is outstanding.

Each Master Gardener volunteer may have started with some gardening experience or a lot, but the Master Gardener program helped them to put a broad base of gardening education together with that experience so that they can teach others.

Registration is open for Master Gardener training sessions that will begin in late August. Although there is time in the classroom, we try to conduct sessions in gardens, orchards and other locations as much as possible. Last year, participants did a scavenger hunt in a garden center to get familiar with certain products and their uses.

Topics in Master Gardener intern training include weed and pest identification and control, wildlife damage control, lawn care, and herbaceous and woody plants. There is an open-book quiz each week and an open-book test at the end — which falls the week before Thanksgiving.

Master Gardener is not just an in-depth gardening class, though, as applicants must agree to give back to their community — in the first year an equivalent of the 35 hours of training they received. Master Gardeners recertify each year after that by taking 12 hours of volunteer assignments and six hours of continuing education.

Following your gardening passion is what it’s about. Our newsletter editor, Becky Pinto, loves the written word, and it shows in her work. She also loves a fine landscape, exquisite flowers and majestic trees, so she finds those things wherever she goes, cultivates them at home and shares it all with our readers.

Those who love working with children work with children or show others how to bring them into the world of gardening. Those who prefer to work with adults have many options as well. If you like trees more than vegetable gardening, or mosses more than flowers, there is a place for you. The options are wide open.

To find out more about this year’s Master Gardener training, just contact our office. Applications are due by Aug. 1 and are available by mail, email, or on our website at We would be happy to hear from you!