It sometimes blows my mind to consider all the paths in my life that have lead me to this place - not just physically here in California - though that is an interesting ponder, but also doing what I do. I was the kid in school who hated to write anything. That's why I liked maths. A number is much shorter to write that a word. Yet now, I write out of choice.
And the garden - well, I used to envy the attention my mother gave her garden. My sister, in a teen-aged tantrum once accused her (unfairly, I hasten to add) of having more time for the garden than for us. It seemed that way to me too. Now, we realize that she gardened for us - to feed us fresh, if not appreciated, wholesome food.
Each week, as I sink deeper into the Master Gardener training program, I grow a more intense appreciation of that love of gardening that my Mum nurtured in me. I wish she had a Master Gardener Program to join. Forty-nine states in America and four Canadian provinces have Master Gardener Programs. I don't even know if there is a similar program in Ireland or Britain, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. If you know of a Master Gardener Program in your area please leave me a comment. I'd love to see what happens elsewhere.
Master Gardeners provide the public with scientifically researched advice on gardening. In Santa Clara County, California, they offer free work shops and library talks. They have a hotline that the public can call if they are experiencing problems in their gardens. As an outsider looking in, (though definitely climbing over the wall to get in!) I can honestly say, without any bias, that these people, who volunteer their time in such a generous and productive way, are absolutely fabulous! And if you don't believe me, Urban Farmer called them the "Superheros of American Horticulture" in their January/February issue.
And how do they fund all this great work? Every year, Friends of Master Gardeners has a Spring Garden Market in San Jose. They sell a huge variety of heirloom pepper and tomato seedlings, as well as a ton of other veggie and flower seedlings. If you live in the area save the date - 2nd April, History San Jose. I will be posting reminders...
One of the things I love that I love about gardening is the people I meet. Master Gardeners puts a great emphasis on building community. Last year four of us met at a Master Gardeners library course on vegetable gardening. We formed our own little club and have become good friends. Now we meet regularly to swap seedlings, drink wine, plant seeds together, eat nice things, and just last week, we went on our first field trip to Hakone Japanese Gardens in Saratoga.