- Author: Lauren Snowden
Gardening has always been a part of my life, I can remember working in the yard and vegetable garden with my grandmother and mother when I was a young child. Certain trees, flowers and vegetables still bring back great memories of different people and places I've lived or visited.
In the course of my job as the statewide training coordinator for the UC Master Gardener Program I'm always interested to know how volunteers started gardening or what their favorite plant is. People's faces light up as they talk about what or who influenced them to take up gardening as a hobby, lifestyle or even as a career. Many of us have cherished plants we received as gifts or had passed down to us from fellow gardeners or family.
Sharing your passion
The UC Master Gardener Program boasts over 6,000 volunteers who have spent 5.4 million hours working with and educating the public about home gardening. This dedication to volunteering and love of gardening is passed on in many families, resulting in multi-generational UC Master Gardener volunteers like Camille White and her mother Pat Bremmer. Camille and Pat are a mother daughter volunteer duo with a combined 25 years of volunteer service with the UC Master Gardener Program of Sutter-Yuba Counties.
“I love all kinds of plants and flowers and with much help from my mom I joined the UC Master Gardener Program…She (mom) is such an amazing talent when it comes to plants,” said Camille. They both volunteer to work the office hotline and attended the 2014 UC Master Gardener conference together in Yosemite. They just recently returned from a cruise where they had time to admire a Double Oleander in Key West Florida.
Gardeners excel at sharing so it comes as no surprise that they not only share their gardening know how but also their plants. Whether gardeners grow too many plants, tomatoes or zucchini they can always find homes for them, well maybe not the zucchini. Elizabeth Middleton, of Seal Beach, Calif. was gifted with violets from her husband's grandmother, Karen Hardy, who received the violets from her own mother.
Elizabeth and her family have been lovingly keeping them alive and moving them from home to home since 1976. The violets have struggled from time to time with the climate conditions and new locations however they have been divided and distributed to more family throughout the years. Four generations have grown these particular violets, the nostalgia they bring is one of peace and love, that all is right in the world for the family. Planted in a pot, or in the landscape this special flower is something to be nurtured.
Gardening with others can create positive connections and cultivate a closer relationship between people and the environment. Gardening also engages all the senses, enhances fine motor development, teaches patience and offers unique learning opportunities.
Melissa Womack and her daughter started to garden together on a small scale by creating a Fairy Garden. “Starting a fairy garden,” explained Womack “began as a day project to get outside and create something together. Years later it has evolved into a special place for my daughter and I to connect without any distractions. Every part of the process is fun for us - from designing the tiny landscape, crafting treasures and imagining the fairies visiting our magical little garden. There have been many giggles and great memories made, I hope that we continue this tradition for many years to come! ”
Thank you to all whom have shared their love of gardening, extra plants, been and continue to be that special influence in someone's life. You have helped someone realize that nothing tastes better than fresh tomatoes from their garden or that planting a tree and watching it grow is amazing.
A tip of the trowel to my grandmother and mother this Mother's Day who gave me my start in gardening. Without their influence, care and patience I would not have gone through UC Master Gardener training and become a volunteer, nor would I be making a career in a field that I love!
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
- Author: Missy Gable
Dedicated to Rascal Snowden.
Some of us garden for ourselves, others for our children and pets. When it comes to gardening for your fur friends, especially cats, catnip is the first thing that most people think of. Catnip (or catmint), Nepeta cataria, is in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Members of this aromatic family include many common herbs like rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, lavender and perilla. Nepetalactone is the compound in catnip that gives it a fragrance. Not all cats respond to nepetalactone but those that do are drawn to the garden to sniff, roll around and generally enjoy the plant.
Traditional catnip, Nepeta cataria, should be planted with caution. It re-seeds readily and therefore requires a fair amount of maintenance to keep the plant from getting out of hand. Fortunately, there are numerous kinds of catmint that a gardener can choose from, all with the same cat alluring nepetalactone.
Look for a catmint with valuable landscape qualities such as a long blooming period and maneagable growth habit. All Nepeta attract pollinators, are drought tolerant, rabbit and deer resistant, and according to the American Chemical Society may help repel mosquitos from the garden.
A common and favorite catmint is Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker's Low'). This particular catmint was the 2007 Perennial Plant of the Year and is an attractive garden showstopper with a soft gray-green foliage and bright lavender-blue flowers. It is suitable in Sunset zones 1-24 and does not reseed like other Nepeta racemosa.
Many gardeners use Walker's Low catmint as a groundcover although with flower spikes 2-3 feet tall, it can easily be placed farther back in a planting bed and still get attention. This easy to grow catmint tolerates full sun and morning sun with afternoon shade.
If you are looking to give your garden some “cattitude”, take a little time to look into the many catmints available and which one is most suitable for your space.
- Author: Sheila Clyatt
In fact, it is the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference, in Long Beach, and we have descended on a very "posh" hotel with our sneakers, jeans and short practical fingernails. We stand out so much that it is almost humorous. We are a jovial crowd, relaxed and invigorated by the audible buzz of information and humor relayed at every gathering.
Some of the returnees appear to take everything in stride but I am so excited about this event that I push all fear aside and talk to every UC Master Gardener volunteer I meet. I am relieved to establish that UC Master Gardeners are totally approachable, love to share information and some can talk longer on the subject of compost then I can. That is quite an accomplishment.
What is so awesome about this event, is that when entomology is discussed instead of glazed over eyes, my fellow attendees become hypervigilant to the subject and even interject with commentary. These are my people!
I had wanted to attend UC Master Gardener conferences in the past, including the 2014 event in Yosemite. But each year after filling out the application, adding the cost of hotel and transportation I'd determine it's not within my budget. This year with the help of the funds raised by the previous silent auction made available to all UC Master Gardeners volunteers, combined with the cheap airfare on JetBlue I was able to attend.
Witnessing what other UC Master Gardeners were doing in their counties was both inspiring and reassuring. We might not be geographically close - but our goals, efforts and intentions were all in alliance. This comradery of meaningful contribution buffered both my stamina in the program and my commitment to its goals.
I hope that I might be fortunate enough to attend another UC Master Gardener conference in the coming years, and if so, I hope to see you there!
- Author: Melissa G. Womack
The Hyatt Regency was buzzing with activity as UC Master Gardener volunteers learned about the latest research in home horticulture at the 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference in Long Beach. New session topics, hands-on workshops and speakers were tailored to ensure the conference met attendees' continuing education and learning needs. The social media photo wall, book signing and conference commemorative pin provided a fun setting for participants to mingle and make memories to take home.
“[The 2017 UC Master Gardener Conference] far exceeded anything I expected. It was amazing, I learned so much, and I feel a part of a bigger community now. I had no idea UC Master Gardeners were such a friendly, happy, fun and wonderful group of people. It really inspires me to stay in the program,” said one conference goer.
Welcome & keynotes
To kick-off the conference attendees were welcomed to Southern California by Keith Nathaniel, UC Cooperative Extension Director in Los Angeles County and Darren Haver, UC Cooperative Extension and REC Director in Orange County. “Southern California has so much to showcase for gardeners. We have undeniably beautiful landscapes in addition to serious environmental challenges,” said Haver. “The conference promotes citizen science in a way that makes me proud to be part of UC where I know my research reaches the people who will use it to make a difference.”
Following the warm welcome from the hosting counties, statewide director, Missy Gable applauded the program and its volunteer's accomplishments. Gable then invited participants to take the opportunity to network and build relationships across the state.
"The UC Master Gardener Program is an incredible network of volunteers, coordinators, advisors and experts from across California,” said Gable. "We were extremely excited to be able to learn together and most importantly celebrate the incredible impacts and accomplishments of our volunteers."
Two keynote speakers, Adam Schwerner, Director of Horticulture and Resort Enhancement at Disneyland Resort and Dr. Allen Armitage, Author, Lecturer and emeritus professor at the University of Georgia kept the audience inspired. Each speaker offered unique and different perspectives on gardening in public spaces and home horticulture. Schwerner encouraged each attendee to not be afraid of taking risks in the garden, and to develop a personal artistic flair that speaks to them through experimentation and most importantly having fun. Armitage shared his passion of home horticulture, offering a glimpse intro the historical foundation for various plants as well as sharing stories as sharing stories and light-hearted lessons from the field.
Sessions, sessions and more sessions!
With 58 break-out sessions and two keynote speakers there was a wealth of knowledge and experience available to all who attended the triennial conference. New this year was the option for attendees to register for special intensive sessions that offered unique or more in-depth trainings. Popular intensive sessions included, illustrated garden journaling, plant diagnostics, and Kirk Brown as John Bartram “America's 1st Master Gardener.”
Awards banquet and silent auction
Following an afternoon of inspiring guest and keynote speakers, attendees were invited to join together in the grand ballroom of the Long Beach Convention Center for the awards banquet and silent auction. Guests at the awards banquet were able to view and bid on beautiful baskets of local goods and handmade items, generously donated by local county programs and program supporters.
A special recognition and sincere thank you to the UC Master Gardeners of Ventura County for organizing and soliciting silent auction items. The silent auction was a huge success raising $7,910! All of the money raised is used to provide scholarships to UC Master Gardeners with a financial need at future conferences.
Celebrating the magic of volunteers
During the awards banquet volunteers who donated more than 5,000 volunteer hours were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding contributions to the University of California, our communities and our environment.
The magic of volunteers continued to be celebrated at the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Volunteers with more than 5,000 volunteer hours were invited to an exclusive behind-the-scenes horticulture tour at Disneyland Resort, before the park opened to the public. The tour at Disneyland Resort was a rich experience full of industry insight into design, installation and maintenance, as well as what it takes to create the perfect seasonal landscape.
Join us in thanking and honoring volunteers in your county who reached new hour milestones since the 2014 conference:
Search for Excellence & photo contest winners
The top three winners for the Search for Excellence awards: Los Angeles, Orange and Marin counties were congratulated and presented their award certificates. Rachel Surls, advisor in UC Cooperative Extension Los Angeles County, gave an inspiring presentation about first-place winner – Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative. The Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative was developed in response to the need for a curriculum for beginning vegetable gardeners in Los Angeles County.
The conference also had a photo gallery where attendees could view and vote on their favorite photo contest finalist. The last day of the conference started with a “hurray” and lots of “awwws” during the announcement of the 2017 UC Master Gardener Photo Contest's Gardeners Choice award which went to Tom Fernanz, Calaveras-Tuolumne Counties, for his adorable photo titled, “Lily and the Swallowtail.”
We hope you join us in 2020!
Many thanks to the numerous volunteer, host counties and conference planning committee members who made the 2017 conference a reality. Without their dedication and support the conference would not have been possible. We look forward to continuing the celebration of the program and the magic of its volunteers at the 2020 UC Master Gardener Conference in Northern California.
Do you have a suggestion for the next conference or feedback for this year's event? Let us know at ucanr.edu/mgfeedback.
- Author: Marcy Sousa
Following a program wide call for photos, the official 2017 UC Master Gardener photo contest received more than 350 submissions from UC Master Gardeners across that state! Images ranged from beautiful flowers to fascinating creatures in our gardens in five categories.
Narrowing down each category's top five finalist was no easy task. Each categories finalists stood out to the judges because of its interesting subject matter, composition or connection to the program.
Photo finalists selected, now you vote!
Cast your vote by ranking the finalists in order from 1-5 (1 being your favorite). Online voting will close on July 31, 2017. Now it's your turn to help decided the winners! (Finalists listed in no particular order.)
California Friendly Gardening:
- "San Juan Capistrano Native Garden,” by Nina Payne, Ostensen Orange County
- “Drought Friendly Succulents,” by Monique Moench, Solano County
- “Quarry Lakes Demonstration Garden,” by Carol Jesse, Alameda County
- “CA Native Plants,” by Corinne Yoshihara, Napa County
- “Gardens Gone Native,” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
Creatures in the Garden:
- “Lily and the Swallowtail,” by Tom Furnanz, Calaveras County
- “Ingurgitating Praying Mantid,” by Sharon Leos, Solano County
- “Female Native Longhorn Bee,” by Kimberly Steinmann, Sacramento County
- “Sharp-shinned Hawk Welcoming Visitors,” by Ken Martin, Ventura County
- “Last Meal of the Condemned,” by Bruce Goren, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
- “Ravishing Radishes,” by Anne McDermott, Orange County
- “Beta vulgaris ‘Incognito',” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
- “Winter Veggies,” by Randall Fox, Santa Cruz-Monterey Counties
- “Summer's Bounty,” by Rebecca Schoenenberger, Santa Clara County
- “Golden Raspberries,” by Bruce Goren, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
UC Master Gardeners in Action:
- “Happy to Help,” by Amina Horikoshi, Sacramento County
- “Water Audit,” by Kathy Ikeda, San Joaquin County
- “Learning about Critters in a Pond,” by Peggy Chipkin Marin County
- “Fresh peas taste great!” by Summer Brasuel, El Dorado County
- “Which one is next?” by Kim Nguyen, Orange County
- “Looking Up,” by Carol Jesse, Alameda County
- “Exploding Milkweed,” by Cindy Elkins, Fresno County
- “Echeveria,” by Jeffrey Blake, San Mateo-San Francisco Counties
- “The splendor of a brilliant carnivorous plant,” by Marta Kravech, Sacramento County
- “Good Morning,” by Meredith French, Gold Badge, San Diego County
Click here to vote: ucanr.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bBoOSl4HlGfrpQ1
View all the photos entries
There is no doubt that UC Master Gardner volunteers have a creative side; be sure to check out all the submissions to official UC Master Gardener photo contest on the contest website. Thank you to all those who took the time to participate and share your amazing and inspiring work! Good luck to our finalists!