- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
This month's UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Spotlight is on volunteer Carolyn Paul. Since I first met Carolyn, when she went through the program in 2019, it was clear that she looked at gardening and all its benefits with a holistic view. She sees the beauty in the flowers and trees, but doesn't forget that actually interacting with the garden is half the fun and benefit of gardening! When Master Gardeners were starting the compost project at the Root 66 Garden in Rancho Cucamonga (read here to learn more about that great project https://ucanr.edu/b/~B3D) Carolyn jumped right in to help get that project started by helping to build the boxes, turning the compost and more! She has also worked extensively with both our School and Community Garden committees, helping to organize the outreach and support that the Master Gardeners provide to the public so that youth, adults, and families can all maximize the benefits of gardening. Carolyn's insight on how to connect the Master Gardeners to the community has been an invaluable contribution to our program and San Bernardino County as a whole. She gardens with heart, and takes the time to share that enthusiasm, imparting her wisdom on the benefits of gardening with the community every chance she gets. To hear more about her love of gardening and her thoughts on the benefits of gardening, read more from Carolyn in her own words below.
-Maggie O'Neill, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator
Why did you decide to be a MG? I grew up gardening with my parents and grandparents. And when I started my own family, we all have gardened together. So, gardening for me has been a social experience, one filled with fond memories. So in wanting to volunteer, I thought that Master Gardeners would provide a similar social environment where we could all enjoy one another's company and learn from it!
What are your gardening passions? For many years I've grown flowers of all colors and fragrances. Thanks to Master Gardeners, however, I've expanded my love of colors and fragrances in my yards to drought tolerant plants. So now both of our yards have Grevilleas, Lions' Tails, white Lantana, Fairy Dusters, and Hot Lip Sage. They need much less water to stay green and bloom than my flowers.
What do you think gardening gives back to our community and why do you think it's important for overall community health? I think that gardening has the potential to benefit everyone! As individuals we can gain a sense of well-being and accomplishment from it, as well as take advantage of the exercise that it offers. Since we heavily rely upon many technologies in our daily lives, it can be helpful to get outdoors and see how good that connecting with nature can make us feel, physically and psychologically. And gardening can bring people together in a number of positive ways. It can lead to neighbors sharing cuttings and other items from their yards. Most importantly our Master Gardener classes and events
not only provide information to the communities that we serve, but they can also facilitate new friendships and partnerships along the way.
Do you have any tips for the community about conserving water in the drought? Since being a Master Garderner, I've come to better understand the need for water conversation and how my family and I can contribute to it in caring for our yards. We have replaced some of our older, water-thirsty plants with drought tolerant ones. We've mulched wherever we could. And we now have the front and back yards on a watering schedule. On June 1st our local water district required that our city start mandated water rationing. Watering outside is now confined to one day a week for sprinkler watering above ground. Underground watering systems and hand watering are not confined to a specific number of days, but each residence and business has been given a monthly table to follow based upon our previous 2020 total water usage. For each month, we are allotted a portion of this past usage for both indoor and outdoor watering. This has not been easy, since we had to make changes in our use of water inside the house to make certain that we have sufficient water for all our trees and plants. We also removed our pool in order to balance our indoor and outdoor water needs, and to manage the increasing cost of our water.
What is a tidbit or two you've learned as a MG that the public reading our newsletter could gain from? I've learned many, many things from the Master Gardener program. But what stands out the most for me is becoming serious about the close connection our gardening habits have with the climate changes that we are now living with, coupled with the need to be flexible and creative in how we care and nurture our landscape that is threatened by these serious changes. Master Gardeners are important in educating our local communities on how to adapt to climate changes in positive, optimistic ways.
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a UCCE MG? During one of my MG training meetings, I won a copy of the book Biophilia written by Edward O. Wilson! It was enriching to read and confirmed my decision to join Master Gardeners, so I would briefly talk about its message with anyone thinking about being a Master Gardener, since it describes our human bond with other living things, which can easily be ignored: “………to the degree that we come to understand other organisms, we will place a greater value on them, and on ourselves.” (Prologue, Biophilia (1984).