By Ed Miller
Over the past year, since successfully completing Master Gardener training I've come to realize that a Master Gardener is many different things depending on their background, interests, education or love of things in the garden and that affect the garden. They could be engineers, retirees, plant nursery workers, landscape specialists, stay at home moms or other professionals. The former is what they do or how they earned their living but with it they bring different specialties or skills that when working together on a garden project contribute to the overall success of the effort. Whether it be design, labor, other knowledge or time to water and maintain the project later, each Master Gardener contributes what they can, when they can. have frequently asked me, what exactly is a Master Gardener? Initially, my pat answer was a person who has successfully completed the training offered by their local Extension Office and all other requirements necessary to be certified as a Master Gardener. However, the experience and additional knowledge gained in completing the required 50 hours of volunteer service have opened my eyes and definitely affected my response to the question.
Master Gardeners share a love or passion for plants of all types and description. Some specialize in a specific type of plant, e.g. roses, orchids or daylilies. Others are interested in trees; some just enjoy the pleasure of growing things or the relaxation and stress-free joy that working in the soil can bring. Some can look at a plant and give you all the information you ever wanted to know about its history,while others can't. Their skill or knowledge base of gardening may lie in other areas such as when to plant it, trim it, water it or how to transplant it.
Master Gardeners are civic minded. Given the opportunity, they'll put in a garden for their county or city and maintain it in perpetuity. They are interested in conservation of plants, water (don't get them started on xeriscaping or rain barrels) and the environment. They approach each project offered to them with a desire to bring something of beauty and peace to the community. Some spend hours in the hot sun rescuing plants that would be destroyed by development and transplanting them in local or personal gardens. Some, in addition to their gardens, are interested in birds and other animals and provide for these beautiful creatures year round. Some of their civic gardens and personal gardens have been designated as habitats for birds and animals. They are also active in educating others about their interests and sharing their extensive knowledge with the young to insure the future of gardening and our planet.
So, the past year of working side-by-side with some of the nicest, most dedicated and professional people I have known has caused me to change my answer to the original question. My answer now is that it depends for each individual that has received the coveted designation of Master Gardener. I can answer for myself, but you'd have to ask each individual because every answer is going to be a little different. So ask, but be prepared, as they are proud of what they are doing and more than willing to talk about it!
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