- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
Nancy Mannon became a UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in San Bernardino County 2019 and her love of gardening and nature was immediately apparent, as you will learn below. She's one of those people, like many of our Master Gardeners, where a plant is not just simply a plant; it is art, it is life, it is habitat, and more. Her husband, Gary, became a MG trainee this spring in our virtual class and was all business and engagement! He has a historical garden that he has been put in charge of and he wanted to make sure he educated himself and got the support to do it right. The Mannons are a great example of the diversity of Master Gardener's passions and interests. They highlight how our Master Gardener program (or the garden in general) is a great place for people with diverse perspectives to come together. It's one of the things that makes this program, and our wonderful volunteers, special, and it's a true joy to be part of it. As for the Mannons, they are wonderful, vital stewards of both the history and future of the city of Upland and it's horticultural heritage, and we are so fortunate to have them as part of our Master Gardener team!
-Maggie O'Neill, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator
Why did you decide to be a MG (Master Gardener)?
Gary - I decided to join out of necessity. An organization I am affiliated with put me in charge of a Living
Garden that they own. Partly due to the pandemic, the garden got neglected for a couple of years, and
they wanted me to bring it back to life. I knew nothing about gardening. My wife had previously
graduated from the Master Gardener program. So, she put me in touch with Maggie. I decided to join
the program. The Master Gardeners and Master Food Preservers have been a big help in bringing the
garden back to life. And, I'm learning about gardening.
Nancy - I love plants, nature and love to be outside. When I was a young girl, I went to Butchart Gardens
In Canada. I was amazed at all the wonderful design and color of all the flowers and trees in one huge
garden. I have spent most of my time planting flowers and making the outside look beautiful. I wasn't
sure what I was doing but I just kept on planting whatever my heart called me to plant. Gratefully, my
green thumb paid off. So, when I heard about the MG program, I thought I should jump on board and
see what the real experts have to say about gardening.
What are your gardening passions?
Gary - Currently, it is bringing the garden back to life. I haven't been at it long enough to develop a
passion. I'm still playing catch-up, but I want to add plants to make the garden more attractive to
beneficial insects. Working with good people, towards a common goal, is a definite plus!
Nancy - I think of the ground as like a canvas to an artist. You pick the color, texture, and design, and
watch the garden come to life. Mother nature is amazing with all the vibrant colors and intricate designs
of flowers. Being outside with nature, I would definitely say, it is good for the soul. Also, it's fun to be
surprised by pollinators, like butterflies and hummingbirds flying around your yard.
What do you think gardening gives back to our community and why do you think it's important for
overall community health?
Gary - Growing one's own vegetables, fruit and citrus has a healthier, tastier, more satisfying outcome
than purchasing those products in the store. Locally grown products reduce the transportation and
environmental costs associated with importing from other regions or countries.
Nancy - Every home should have a garden, in a perfect world. Especially, in this day and time. It is
almost a necessity to have your own organic food. We have perfect weather here in southern California
to grow food all year long. With the food situation right now, it is more important than ever to have your own garden or a community garden. There is nothing like eating fresh home grown fruits and
Do you have any tips for the community about conserving water in the drought?
Gary - We took advantage of the turf rebate offered by the city and utility company a couple years ago,
and put in drought-tolerant landscaping. Our water bill was reduced by about half. I water in the early
morning so more water has a chance to seep into the ground instead of evaporate.
Nancy - All plants and trees need water, PERIOD!
What is a tidbit or two you've learned as a MG that the public reading our newsletter could gain from?
Gary - The importance of not ignoring our trees during a drought. People cut back on watering their
landscape, and the trees end up suffering. I see so many dry trees. Sure, you can just replant a tree to
replace the one that died, but it will take many years to regain the canopy of the tree you replaced,
which we all benefit from.
Nancy - Fun fact, dirt is not just dirt, it is soil! A teaspoon of healthy soil contains more bugs than there
are people on earth! Mulch vs. Amendments, and list goes on.
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a UCCE MG?
Gary - I think the class is very interesting. The program is part of the University of California
Agriculture and Natural Resources. All their information is research-based. They teach about
horticulture, plant pathology, dealing with weeds and pests, irrigation, and how to analyze your soil. It's
something every homeowner would benefit from early on, and not wait until you retire, like I did.
Nancy - I tell everyone, the Master Gardener program is fun, interesting, educational, and beneficial. Everyone, can learn something to better this planet, and themselves. In this class you meet like-minded people who care about the environment and Mother Nature.