Master Gardener course offered

Published 4:18 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Chilton County Regional Master Gardener Course serves as a resource for those wanting to take their garden and landscape skills to the next level.

The course is the first step to becoming a Master Gardener.

Lee Walters of Verbena and his wife Waltrauod (Wally) took the course in 2013.

“We decided that we wanted some more knowledge about plant life and garden and landscaping,” Walters said. “It has helped us immensely with our projects.”

The next course will begin Jan. 25. Deadline to register is Jan. 18. Classes will be held each Wednesday  from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break. The course will last until April 12, 2017.

As a part of the course, participants receive a more then 300-page manual of information. Some of the topics included are the parts and types of plants, landscape design, fruits, vegetables and beneficial insects.

Classes are taught by Auburn University professors and others highly qualified in the field.

“It really is a college level class,” Harriett Jackson of Montevallo said.

She took the course in Chilton County at the urging of a friend. Her favorite part of the class was learning about grafting.

“I actually had a limelight hydrangea … and I had a low branch that needed to be removed,” Jackson said.

After the grafting class, she was able to cut the limb and graft it onto another part of the tree.

The course is $125, which covers cost of classes, manual and certification as a Master Gardener.

Once the course is complete, 50 hours of related volunteer work is required in order to be certified.

Walters said that continuing education classes are encouraged.

“There is not a lot of money involved for the benefit,” Walters said.

Walters and Jackson said they have enjoyed the opportunities to meet new people and volunteer through the Master Garderners.

“The class and gardening is just the tip of the iceberg,” Jackson said.

She said the Master Gardeners assist with many of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Systems programs, particularly 4-H. The group also volunteers pruning the extension office’s grapevines and fig trees, and assisting in local municipality beautification projects.

Learning does not end with the courses. Jackson said each of the gardeners learn from each other.

Opportunities within Master Gardeners also go beyond membership in the local group. Jackson said there are groups in every state and in Canada, creating opportunities to serve on state, national and international boards.