We had a tremendous turnout for our first workday of 2013; lots of gardeners

By Linda Workman Smith

We had a tremendous turnout for our first workday of 2013; lots of gardeners were eager to get their hands dirty. Starting with a clean slate—almost--current and future members of the MCMGA met Thursday March 7th at 9:00 AM to begin clean-up and renovation of the garden beds surrounding the OSU Cooperative Extension Service office building in Shawnee, OK.

The following excerpt is taken from a paper written by Becky Carlberg, fellow blogger and Master Gardener—class of 2006. It gives a little history of the Multi-County Master Gardener Association:

The MCMG group officially formed in 2004 with monthly meetings held in Shawnee.    Originally composed of 11 members in 2004, the membership had grown to 34 members by 2010.

The Master Gardeners were carried along some of the time with the traveling Cooperative Extension Service in Pottawatomie County.  Initially, in 1992, the Cooperative Extension Office was situated south of Shawnee High School at Kennedy and Ford streets in a renovated livestock barn.  In December of 1995, the Extension Office moved to the OG&E Building in downtown Shawnee on 9th and Market streets.  The Master Gardeners joined the Extension Service there in 1999, although many meetings were held in the Shawnee Library.  September of 2003 found the Extension Office moving to the Coca-Cola Building off Kickapoo Spur in Shawnee.  That lasted until June of 2006 when the Extension Office moved into the Carlson and Cottrell Accounting Firm Building at 14001 Acme Road, still in Shawnee.  It is now the permanent home of the Cooperative Extension Organization.  The MCMG meetings are regularly held here.

Thank you Ms. Carlberg for enlightening us, now to continue…

When the MCMGA moved into our current building we inherited a massively overgrown landscape. Many unsuitable shrubs had been planted in narrow beds against the building; a large portion of the sidewalk surrounding the building was completely hidden by “vegetation gone wild.” We were content for a short time to just luxuriate in our new surroundings but soon began to look at ways to improve the landscape. We initially trimmed existing shrubs to expose the sidewalks but were never really satisfied that this was the best option. We wanted to create a landscape more in keeping with philosophies imparted in our Master Gardener classes; create spaces with minimal maintenance, less water usage and utilization of Oklahoma proven and more native species. We wanted to utilize plants appropriate to the areas we have available, that would not outgrow their allotted spaces.

In a mutually beneficial project with Pottawatomie County Commissioner, Melissa Dennis, we were able to get the overgrown shrubs removed in exchange for our gardening expertise in making changes around their building.

In January 2013 MCMGA President Wanda Barnett appointed Master Gardeners, Greg Hinkle and Mike Harrell as co-chairmen to oversee the variety of projects planned for the extension office grounds; also to coordinate workdays for community beautification projects. They have a 4 year plan prepared; Thursday’s workday was the first step in implementation of this project.

After being a couch potato all winter, my first real work of the season was quite exhausting. In the past I have been referred to as “The Chief Dirt Digger of the MCMGA.” Sadly, I don’t think I lived up to my reputation Thursday. Hopefully as the year progresses I’ll be able to recover my esteemed title.

A big THANK YOU to all who participated in our first workday of the year--we are off to a fantastic start.

As always—happy gardening

Linda Workman Smith

MCMGA