Marquette County Master Gardeners

There are 38 members in the Marquette County association, which used to be named Thyme Shares & Friends, with 14 recertified for 2015.

In 2014 we volunteered 25 hours in youth education
51 hours in community education
985 hours in support service
and participated in 361 hours in continuing education

We are looking at ways to increase our membership and keep current members recertified by promoting volunteer and educational opportunities. We re-started and updated our local newsletter which is published seasonally, using the newest version of a publication software that enables us to create an up-to-date, more colorful and eye-pleasing newsletter. It includes recurring columns such as The Science of Gardening, plus schedules for any UWEX or local botanical garden training and events.

Major Accomplishments or Projects:

  1. Annual Garden Walk. Over 150 people attended the 2014 Thyme Shares garden walk themed Fragrant Pathways on Saturday, June 28. Westfield area high school choir sold food as a fundraiser for their organization. One homeowner whose garden was featured on the walk commented “I’ve been a docent on other walks, but it was fun to be on the other side. As a host garden this year, I could see how educational being both a visitor and a host is. I loved sending visitors home with small divisions of plants that they liked from my gardens”. Informational displays prepared by our MGVs on membership, square foot gardening and composting were included at the host gardens.
  2. Scholarships. Normally it is a challenge to find not just one, but two qualified applicants for our scholarships. This year we awarded both $400 scholarships to two qualified graduating high school seniors pursuing careers in horticulture.
  3. Container Gardening Presentation with HCE. At the request of our county Home and Community Educators (HCE) we presented a program on container gardening for over 50 people. Registration was filled and there was standing room only. A 20 minute slide show started the program including information about the MGV program. A demonstration on how to pot up well designed containers followed the slide presentation. We have had requests to repeat this presentation.

Highlighted Project: Annual Bus Trip

For several years Marquette Co. MGVs have organized a bus trip that includes our local and extended community. This year we offered two tours, one to a private garden in a neighboring county and one to Riverside International Friendship Gardens in LaCrosse. This is by far our most popular activity that we offer to the public, with increased interest year after year. We welcomed over 100 people on our most recent trips and to had to resort to a waiting list since we couldn’t accommodate all who wanted to participate. This singular activity brings together participants from 3 counties and is also a useful recruiting and retention tool.

During these trips, we take the opportunity to educate a captive audience about the mission and purpose of the MGV program. The most impactful element of our bus trips is that we bring people and plants together. There is always a stop at a greenhouse on the way home, inspiring people to search for a plant that they saw in one of the gardens we visited that day. Often someone is carrying around a cumbersome potted beauty and someone else asks “What is that and where did you get that!?” Someone always says “I have no idea where I’m going to put another plant”, but after visiting such beautiful gardens that day our trip has turned us all into plant junkies. Lunch is included in the price of a ticket and lunchtime conversation commonly centers on gardening. Bus riders thoroughly enjoy educational guided tours and frequently pick the brains of MGVs for information during walks through the gardens and greenhouses.