Master Gardening class set at Blandy
Posted: January 12, 2013
Special to The Winchester Star
Winchester — People who enjoy gardening and serving their community are ideal candidates for the Master Gardening program, said Mark Sutphin, Frederick County associate Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, horticulture.
The classes will begin next month at the State Arboretum of Virginia at the Blandy Experimental Farm near Boyce. The sessions will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday from Feb. 12 to May 16.
The cost is $200 and includes the Master Gardener handbook, a pest management guide, training by local gardening experts and field experience.
The cost will be reduced to $180 for those who pre-register at an event scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Blandy.
Those who take the class do not need to be experts in gardening, because the class will provide the training and the necessary resource material, Sutphin said.
Instead, they should have an interest in the green industry and using their talents to teach best horticultural practices to the public, whether through administration, information technology, planning, website design or other useful skills.
Master Gardeners are volunteers who support Virginia Cooperative Extension in its educational mission to provide research-based horticultural information to the public, he said.
A side benefit to taking the class is the added horticultural knowledge gained by students that can be applied to their home gardens and landscapes, he said.
The class is intense, Sutphin said, and requires interns to complete more than 50 hours of training and hands-on workshops.
Following the completion of the class, interns are expected to complete 50 hours of volunteer service for the community within a year through a variety of projects before they receive certified Master Gardener status.
Projects include operating help desks in five counties; answering gardening questions at farmers markets, festivals and county fairs; teaching horticulture to elementary school students; giving lectures to garden clubs, churches and other organizations; and providing garden consultations to homeowners.
Many of the projects take place during the evenings and weekends, so people who work full-time can take the class and meet the service requirements, he said.
Class topics include native wildflowers, backyard wildlife, trees and shrubs, plant propagation, good bugs and bad bugs, turf management, landscape design, indoor plants, fruit trees and many others, including a hands-on pruning workshop.
— Teri Merrill is a resident of Winchester and a Master Gardener with Virginia Cooperative Extension.