June 20, 2019 (CHESTNUT HILL, Pa.) – More than 1,000 Master Gardeners are gathering this week in Valley Forge for the 51stInternational Master Gardener Conference. The International Master Gardener Conference has been held biennially since 1987 in cities across the country. Master Gardener attendees enjoy lectures, classes and networking opportunities, as well as field trips to Delaware Valley public gardens, like Winterthur Garden, Chanticleer Garden and Morris Arboretum.

So what is a Master Gardener?

“My best definition is that they are volunteer educators,” said Sandy Feather, commercial horticulture educator at Penn State Extension. “They teach home gardeners how to do their jobs better, how to garden more sustainably to protect pollinators and protect the environment.”

Master Gardeners go through about 40 hours of training and then complete 50 hours of volunteer work, which can include hosting local seminars, planting trees at a local park or helping individuals with gardening questions.

“One master gardener can have a tremendous impact on a lot of other people by giving advice, helping out. And then they will just pass that on in turn,” said Kenneth Connally, a Master Gardener from Little Rock, Ark.

More than 50 Master Gardeners headed to Morris Aboretum Wednesday for a tour, led by Master Gardeners from the Penn State Extension program. The tour focused on insect and disease problems affecting plants in our region.

The gardens at Morris date back to the early 20th century, when founders John and Lydia Morris established gardens at their home, Compton, which later became the arboretum. The grounds are famous for their thousands of species of wooded plants, like trees and shrubs.

Though Master Gardener programs are currently limited to the U.S. and Canada, attendees came from around the world, like Leigh Hunt, the principal horticulture advisor for the U.K.’s Royal Horticulture Society.

“I’m learning all about this push for growing native plants, supporting pollinating insects, reducing chemicals, going organic,” Hunt said. “All this stuff is really interesting to see.”

Hunt didn’t come just to learn more about horticulture.

“We don’t have anything like the Master Gardener Program in the U.K. and we’re really interested to see whether we can take home the ideas and do the same,” he said.

When the conference ends on Friday, the hard work is just beginning for its Master Gardener attendees. Many Master Gardener programs run “garden hotlines” where members of the public can call in for gardening advice.

“We love our Master Gardener volunteers!” Feather said.

If you need your own gardening advice, you can call Penn State Extension’s Lehigh and Northampton County garden hotline at (610) 813-6613 in Northampton County and (610) 391-9840 in Lehigh County.
Video Rating: / 5

We had a blast hosting a garden tour for the Autauga County Master Gardener Association from Prattville, AL. There were some sound issues on the various video clips, so putting it together was a BIT of a challenge, and some necessary voice overs.

I also had a crazy idea to attempt to get a somewhat aerial view of our property with me strapped on the back of our ATV. Sooooo not the smooth footage of a camera attached to a drone, but…oh well…you make do.

We hope you can get the overall idea of our RGGS/KPGS gardens and our work on the rest of the property.

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Master Gardeners gather for biennial conference

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  • Kelli Hume-Ostermeyer

    I remember the before pics, Janet, I am so impressed don't know how you do it…the tour was awesome and your Paradise is as well, so glad we are friends..i want to learn more everytime I get on your fb…makes my hubby crazy..oh she had another idea,….but he is a great help..Love how you present so professionally, I also saw the snack table..just wow, would love to have heard some of the comments..ah wellhave a great day, and have a Goodun…Kelli