Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ear to the Ground

September marked the first meeting of the MG Advisory Panel here in Griffin. This panel is an essential listening piece for understanding what happens in MG programs across the state. Sixteen agents, program assistants, and MG volunteers gathered at the Research and Education Garden to take a good look at the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program.
The main points of the work session were the priorities identified for the coming year:

1.       Policies and procedures -- clarification, consistent implementation
2.       Training MGs -- both Introductory and Advanced
3.       Marketing and branding
4.       Recordkeeping
5.       Support for programs in counties without FT agents

So, in light of the input received from panel participants, we were particularly excited to announce the ADVANCED TRAINING offered in Griffin last week, and that a second "Creative Teaching Techniques" class will be offered November 30, 2013. Be sure to contact your local Extension agent or program coordinator for a registration form and more details!

PSSSSTTT...We're also planning an ADVANCED TRAINING intensive session, Master Gardener University, in June 2013! Mark your calendar for June 6-8, 2013!

Hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On the Other Side of the Garden Fence

Every once and a while there is profound merit in checking out what is on the other side of our "garden fence." We find new plants, new building materials, new ideas, and new concepts that we can bring back to our own gardens. Just incorporating one of those new things into our own garden can sometimes feel like we're in a whole new space.

That was very evident to me last week as I explored Manito Gardens in Spokane, WA, as part of a pre-conference event for the National Master Gardener Coordinator's Conference. I saw new plants, like this spruce whose identity I neglected to record.

I saw familiar plants combined in ways that seemed new and different.

I saw old favorites that suddenly and surprisingly made me homesick for my Virginia garden.

While it was in part refreshing to see new colors and textures, it was overwhelming to realize there is still so much to learn! There was a lesson to be learned in this garden visit -- we have to be careful to avoid staying so long in our own garden that we forget there is a whole wide world out there!

And so it was for the National MG Coordinator's Conference. The opportunity to visit with other state program coordinators opened my eyes to the possibilities we have for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. I brought back great resources to share with agents and program coordinators that will strengthen how we manage and administer our volunteer programs. Hearing from local program managers that attended the conference reminded me of the things we do well, our connection to people and plants in our communities, and the passion that we all share for gardening.

So, when you have ventured beyond you own garden fence, don't you tend to come home, walk around your own little corner of the world, and contemplate? You see the things that are wonderful and special to you, like the flowering almond that was my dad's mother's or the daffodils from my mother's mother. Then there are the surprises that have really worked well in the soil and light that you have, like the saponaria that thrives in the cracks of the garden wall or the clematis that climbs the serviceberry. There may be a few things that really don't belong in the garden any more, maybe some plants that have never been in the right place, like the blue hollies under the oak tree. Sometimes, we even realize that our garden is just right. Regardless, we don't know until we gain perspective. Have you been on the other side of your garden fence lately?