Blue Water Healthy Living



Becoming a Master Gardener

By Helen Hermes

From city living to country living leaves room for a lot of learning.

My husband wanted me to help with gardening. Nope. Bugs, worms, weeds and most of all snakes are not my cup of tea. The desire to have pretty gardens versus the cost was a no brainer. Wow! I could ride the lawn mower. After a few trial cuts, hubby said I drove too fast and the lines were not straight, plus I hit a tree and it died. What next? So, what could a city gal do? Aha! I found a solution – take a master garden course through the MSU program.

I did manage to pass the course with an “A”. With the knowledge I gained, I became the most dangerous gardener in St Clair County. All that was necessary for beautiful gardens was to buy some plants, shrubs, and bulbs – plant, fertilize and water. Then everything falls in place, right? Not quite.

After buying about 1,000 bulbs and planting them in the fall so there would be beautiful blooms everywhere, the first lesson learned – ground gophers love bulbs. Approximately 100 bulbs survived the feast. Later learned that you should lay down wire (chicken), cover with dirt and then plant bulbs. Second lesson learned – it takes lots of time to plant seven flats around the Sycamore tree and twelve more to line the drive. After a few expensive mistakes, I learned to be wiser in choices and I did consider astroturf and plastic flowers. I also have learned all the dead plants were not my fault. My husband is a master at using round-up.

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Being a beginner, I did attend the Master Gardener meetings. Within a few weeks, I received a call from a seasoned master gardener. He asked if I would be the vice chair of the Master Gardeners (MG). I asked what would that entail. Oh, just chairing the meeting when the chairperson was not there. Easy, I could do that! Surprise, surprise. Two weeks later the chairperson was moving to Iron Mountain, Michigan. I ended up being the chair for four years. During those four years, we started a four-month series on gardening during the months of January through April and a garden tour in the summer.

I attended the MG seminar on March 16th. The four-month series has evolved into an all-day seminar held annually in the month of March (great idea). The price includes breakfast and lunch. They now have speakers from all around the United States and other countries. Vendors are allowed to set up their wares and plants. Can a gardener avoid temptation? Never! The seminars are educational and entertaining. This year the theme was “Turning Over a New Leaf”. The speakers were Bobbie Schwartz from Cleveland, Ohio – “Garden Renovation”; Kelly D. Norris from Des Moines, Iowa – “Plants with Style”; Jacqueline Van der Kloet from Amsterdam, Holland – “Plant Combinations”; Andrew Bunting, Swarthmore, Pa – “Great Trees and Shrubs for the Midwest”.

After laps in attending the seminars for several years, it was refreshing to renew what I had learned and gain new information. An additional benefit I had attending the seminar this year was renewing acquaintance with some of the real master gardeners that I have known for years – hugs were in order. Beware that there are Master gardeners that speak a different language. It is botanicalese. If you do not understand, do not feel bad, I still don’t. So just ask them to speak English and you will be surprised as you will eventually learn a new language.

The Master Gardeners will have their garden tour on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

For more information regarding tickets go to one of the link below:

The third lesson learned – Eden was the only perfect garden. Do not strive for perfection. Gardens are God’s gift for relaxing, enjoyment, sharing, contemplating and comfort. They bring creatures to your home for enjoyment. And then there are the benefits of beautiful bouquets for the table. Keep learning about God’s creation so you can pass it on. Years later our labor paid off and we now have our own garden of Eden.

Jack is no Adam, he caught the serpent! Eve is now safe.

PS: One more lesson learned to send Annie Rose out before gardening. She is a great huntress.

Helen is retired from a career involving mostly in data processing. She started in data entry and advanced to data entry supervisor and then into computer operations, programming, system analyst and middle management. She owned her own data services company that provided service to Ford Motor Company, Blue Cross, Chrysler, ASI, School Districts and many other businesses. After five and a half years, Helen sold to her partner. She and her husband moved to the Rose City, MI area to farm. After ten years of commuting back and forth to Detroit, a final move back to Farmington Hills was made.

During her life, Helen attended various college classes that included computer programming, business law, English composition, accounting, and other courses. She taught enrichment classes at Kirkland Community College, tutored reading classes in Port Huron for six years, was chairperson of the St Clair County Master Gardener’s Club for four years, was head trustee at Immanuel Lutheran Church for eight years, Chairperson of the Women’s Group at Holy Redeemer Church for four years, past secretary, vice chair, and chair of other various committees for the St Clair County GOP (member since 2008).

Helen and her husband, Jack have lived in Clyde Township for thirty years where they build their home. While living in Clyde they have traveled in every state of the United States. After visiting all the states, they journeyed to other countries in Europe, Eastern Europe (before EU), China, Thailand, Mexico, Columbia, Panama Canal, and others.

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