As the garden grows … so grows the gardener

By Kathy Johnston, Henrico Master Gardener

“And as the garden grows” …

I must have visited all the nurseries in Richmond before I turned 10. Quite often I would get home from school and be whisked up to go to Watkin’s Nursery, Sneed’s or the Great Big Green House (when it was at Chippenham and Forest Hill). I was planting (or butterflying) azaleas before my teens and tending to the compost bin and tilling well before I had my first pimple.

I was introduced to plants and their importance by both my parents, but my Mother had the most gardening influence on me. Mom was a Chesterfield Master Gardener and after her stroke in 2008, she was honored with the designation of Master Gardener Emeritus. My mom was a built-in Horticulture Helpline, always there when I was starting my own beds but also a phone call away when a plant was suffering or unexplainably not growing. Despite being so close to the program in the 70s, I can’t say I really understood what my mother did with the Extension other than find answers to my questions!

When my mom passed away in 2014, it took a few years but I knew I had to pick up where she left off. With years of exposure to plants, in 2019 I decided to become a Master Gardener Volunteer but was rather “green” when I walked into that first class. Did I have to know EVERYTHING she knew? Would I ever be able to spout answers the way she could? Then the story started to form and I saw with my own eyes why my mom had become a Master Gardener. It wasn’t about knowing everything or where to find all the answers. It was definitely about having the opportunity to spend time with a whole lot of incredible people!

The MG program represents many things that are important to me. To name a few big ones:

  • Dedication to the Community – all of our activities are for the education or benefit of the community. The Plant Sale and Bug Bizarre! are just two examples of exciting and educational programs we take out to our neighbors.
  • Constant Learning – the beginning classes and the continuing education are top notch with professional and enthusiastic presenters.
  • Building friendships with quality people – Wow! I’ve met lots of people who share my passion for the garden – and many of them have my mom’s expertise! Many, like me, don’t know all the answers but now have a better idea where to find them. Plus, we have an Extension office to partner with for further investigation.
  • 20190615_124043Engaging/Educating Youth about Plants and their Benefits – many people within this organization want to pass ecologically and environmentally sound principles to future generations. How cool is that?

In addition to doing a lot for the Community, I have found a great deal of personal joy in being a Master Gardener! I have been introduced to many new plants incorporating them into my own landscape. The new Red Twig Dogwood was a Master Gardener suggestion, and I have some fellow MG Lamb’s Ear and Primrose adorning the beds. And the Japanese Maple that I see everyday came from my parent’s yard. And being a Master Gardeners is a wonderful way to make new friends with common interests. I’m so glad I followed in Mom’s footsteps. It has been rewarding and educational and so …

”As the garden grows, so grows the gardener.” Thanks to my mom … and the Henrico Master Gardener Association and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Why do you want to become a Master Gardener?