Becoming a master gardener an ongoing experience

  • Wed Nov 7th, 2012 3:52pm
  • Life

By Sharon Collman Special to The Herald

You have thought about it many times. What does it take to become a master gardener? How difficult is the training and am I still able to learn?

These are questions and comments that we hear every year, yet the real mastery that comes from participating in the Washington State University master gardener training is the ability to find answers.

In fact, senior members of the master gardener program are quick to point out that the day you graduate is the day you stop answering from memory.

You’ve seen them at clinics in places such as Haggens, Arlington Hardware, the Navy Exchange and The Plant Farm, their tables filled with books provided by the Master Gardener Foundation, ready to search for answers to your gardening questions.

“Some folks are worried that they have to learn or memorize 20 fields of botany, but that is definitely not the case,” said Howard Voland, master gardener coordinator.

“During the three-month master gardener training, our students are exposed to all areas of horticulture, but at the end we introduce them to the books that they will be using at clinics.

“And they always work with veteran master gardeners,” Voland said.

The training has local origins. It started in the Puget Sound area in the 1970s and is now worldwide. The program has trained 2,500 master gardeners in Snohomish County over the past 39 years.

The all-volunteer corps of educators teaches and addresses community issues related to landscape and gardening practices.

Training takes place only once a year, from January to March, and the application process is now in full swing, closing Nov. 15.

For more information and an application form, go to the extension website at snohomish.wsu.edu and look under “News and Announcements” or call the master gardener hotline at 425-357-6010 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.

You’ll wonder, “Why did I wait so long?”

Sharon Collman is a WSU Extension horticulture educator.