- Author: Margaret J O'Neill
This month's spotlight is on UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Donna Palmer. She has been a Master Gardener (MG) for a few years, joining during our first virtual class in 2021. She is a natural teacher and has taken on the role of being a MG like she had been doing it her whole life. She has done many talks for the community, and was a great support when we were in our initial stages of doing online talks, taking on the cohost role, and teaching us the fundamentals of what a good cohost was! She has taken this skill she has as a presenter and cohost on to help train her fellow MGs in that role and it is so appreciated! Be on the lookout for Donna giving talks in 2023 (they are great!) and also check out her articles in the Chino Champion on gardening as well. You will learn more from Donna below about her gardening passions, and I hope you too will feel excited about gardening all over again when you read Donna's thoughts from the garden.
-Maggie O'Neill, UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator
Why did you decide to be a MG?
I've long wanted to become a member of this community of gardeners and garden educators but was too shy to actually do it. When classes went online during lockdown, my husband suggested I use the opportunity to achieve my goal. Now I can't believe I waited so long!
What are your gardening passions?
Absolutely everything! I love a garden, learning about plants and plant families, trying something new in my garden beds, tracking growth and experimenting with techniques, harvesting and cooking from the garden, photographing the garden, teaching about gardens, reading about gardens, visiting gardens or nurseries or farms…. You get the idea. If I had to choose two of my very favorite things they would be teaching basic gardening and practicing plant propagation. There's nothing like watching a student discover the sights, textures, and smells of a garden. Witnessing a new gardener relish a sun kissed tomato or devour a fresh crunchy green almost brings me to tears. And I love populating a new area of the garden with the progeny of my own plants.
What do you think gardening gives back to our community and why do you think it's important for overall community health?
What doesn't a garden give back? The solitary gardener gains a nutritious harvest while building soil, promoting neighborhood habitat, supporting pollinators, beautifying a site, and enriching individual well being. Not to mention achieving a sense of accomplishment with every bloom or harvest. And I've never met a gardener who didn't want to share a harvest or favorite seed. Something about plant stewardship nurtures people and creates community. Gardening within a group does all of this on a larger scale. Gardens beckon us in. They invite us to become aware and participate. They prompt us to share and to nourish one another.
Do you have any tips for the community about conserving water in the drought?
I'm learning to garden in a drought just like every other gardener. Drip irrigation, mulch, and Waterwise plants are becoming my best gardening friends.
What is a tidbit or two you've learned as a MG that the public reading our newsletter could gain from?
Nurturing a plant to harvest is a skill. It's ok to experiment and fail and try again. Gardens are hard work for all of us. The most experienced gardeners earned their gardens one plant at a time.
What advice would you give someone considering becoming a UCCE MG?
Do it! The community of Master Gardeners is welcoming, supportive, exciting, and fun. You and your new friends will find opportunities to learn, grow, and make a difference.