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Three down and one to go!

August 20, 2017

I think we were lucky we had an excuse to be inside today for our 3rd Annual to Perennial event in Little Rock. It was a hot and humid day when I got up and it hasn’t changed much tonight. Although it has cooled off, it is still awfully humid!

We had a great turnout from 12:30-4 today at the State office.  Special thanks to Buff for giving up his Sunday to lead the IT charge and open and lock doors.  I don’t know what I would do without his knowledge and support.  

Once again the hosting Master Gardeners put on a spread, took group photos and registered and helped in every possible way.    MG’s took county shots and photos with their mentors and mentees with our wonderful logo.    The beginning mixer was a hit with so much communication going on between annuals to annuals, perennials to perennials and then annuals to perennials.  I can’t wait to see the results.    After that Jan led us all into the auditorium for the educational seminars. 

Another great event with outstanding volunteers.

It was definitely a team approach and the clean-up was done in quick time. Then Randy joined Bob and me for dinner at my house.   We had some lively discussions as always.    My husband and his friends are having a big time in Jefferson City waiting on the eclipse.  He sent me this picture today and told me it was a great garden tour!   If you know Clay, he doesn’t really do gardens, but so sweet that he at least stopped and took a picture.  I am hoping for clear skies for him tomorrow.

Bob and I head south to Hope for our last session in the morning.  Bob will leave soon after for Fort Worth.  We are fortunate to have had him for all 4 sessions.

Batesville A to P and Girl’s Night

August 19, 2017

We had another excellent Annual to Perennial event with over 50 folks from 6 or 7 counties today in Batesville. The UA community college is a fabulous facility and so accommodating.  Local chair Holly did a great job organizing the event and we had great participation from all involved.   There was a lot of interaction between the annuals  and just the perennials and then the perennials and annuals worked together to answer questions.  I can’t wait to see the answers they were all writing down to the questions.  We started and ended on time and I think everyone went away with a lot of good information.    Bob and I ran into several groups having lunch in Batesville before heading home. We made it home and I had time to check on things at home, visit with family and dogs, touch email and then we were out again. This weekend Clay and a group of his friends left for a guy’s trip to watch the eclipse.   It was Clay’s first time driving an RV and they made it to their destination in one piece with no problems.  We will hear more about their big adventure, and they are hoping for clear skies on Monday!

While the guys were gone, we had girls night.  Bob got to be an honorary “girl” for the night and he was a good sport. He can give all you guys some insight after a full evening with us!  We had some lively rounds of bingo before dinner and guess who won one of the games?!    We had great food and lots of laughter, plus we swapped books  .  Good friends are hard to beat! 

Tomorrow is our third A to P in Little Rock in the afternoon.  It was a hot and humid day today, so if tomorrow is a repeat it might be good to be indoors!

Annual to Perennial off to a fabulous start!

August 18, 2017

From the work and planning that has gone into our A to P events, I knew they would be a success and I was not mistaken.  Our first of 4 events went off without a hitch and was a roaring success. Each of the 4 sites has a local chair and Kitty did an amazing job spearheading this team of volunteers. 

We had a packed room of 100+ volunteers and agents.  There was of course, great food, and the beginning mixer had folks engaged and interacting.    We had a good mix of annual (1st year members) and perennials (mentors) and many counties represented.    Bob Byers did a great job talking on new or interesting annuals and I did a state of the MG union address and what to do in the garden. There were loads of questions and so much enthusiasm.  I am sure all annuals will now be perennials and our perennials went away reinvigorated (or fertilized) too!

Bob and I made a quick stop at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks to see Gerald before  leaving town.    Bob hadn’t been there in a while so we had to see it. The gardens looked amazing.    with some new features and creatures, and plenty of interesting plants.  We were on the road after a quick bite to eat, but it was a long ride from Fayetteville to Batesville!!  I was on some roads even I had never been on. I realized we were going to be getting in after 6 p.m. so I called to let them know. Good thing I did, since I had confirmation at Batesville, Mississippi NOT Batesville, Arkansas!  They say it is a common problem with both sides getting the wrong reservations.  Luckily , there was room at the inn, and I was able to cancel Mississippi and get 2 rooms in Batesville.  We made it in by a little after 7 p.m., checked in and went to dinner.  It was definitely a long day and I am sure we will both sleep well tonight.  Tomorrow we repeat the process at UA Batesville.  We are off to an auspicious beginning and I see no change in sight.  Arkansas Master Gardeners are the BEST!

Fayetteville and A to P’s

August 17, 2017

I did spend some time in the office this week in preperation of upcoming events. Summer used to be a slower season for us, but that changed a few years ago. Now slow season is December. It is slow at work but busy with family and friends, so I guess there is no down season anymore. Thankfully I have a supportive team helping me along the way, from secretary Holly

to assistant Julie to great volunteers like County 76 president Linda!Tomorrow is the kick-off for the first of 4 Annual to Perennial events across the state. It takes a village to have a strong program, and we have a strong village. The A to P committee is highly organized and efficient. Kudos to this committee led by Debbie, with a local chair at each event. Bob Byers, formerly of Garvan Gardens and now director of the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens is our visiting guest speaker this year. He is still traveling here as I write, having a late meeting in Texas today. We have roughly 300 first year members, mentors and agents coming to the 4 events. 
I was able to get here in time to have dinner with long time friend Gerald Klingaman. I did get to see his garden before we headed out. 

Gerald and I are also working together on the National Azalea Conference next April, so we did get to talk shop a bit. We don’t see each other enough now that he is retired from extension. 

National Relaxation Day

August 15, 2017

Did you know there was a National Relaxation Day? Me neither, and I did not relax today, and neither did our Master Gardeners.

I consistently say that we have THE best volunteers in the world, and if you look at the work they are doing for us statewide (not on just county projects which are equally important) it is pretty impressive.

This Friday – Monday we have teams of MGs who are organizing A to P (Annual to Perennial)  events in Fayetteville, Batesville, Little Rock and Hope.  We have another team who is diligently working on the October PNG (Plant-Nurture-Grow) Leadership program. Today we hit their goal of 200 people and we still have 10 days left to register!  Kudos to that team!

We have another group in Union County who are putting together a top-notch MG Appreciation Day and send new ideas daily.  I hope you all have your calendars marked for October 9 and El Dorado!   Order forms went out yesterday if you want a t-shirt or lunch, otherwise the event is free and it is going to be amazing.

Those are just three MAJOR events, but we have others working on on-line reporting, advanced MG, the 2018 MG calendar, zoom training and much, much more.  To say I am blessed is an understatement.  I am surrounded by a great staff with Julie and Holly, and also amazing volunteers!  Thank you!

Speaking of blessed, I am now a 10 1/2 year breast cancer survivor and today I got the results of my recent CT scan and I am cleared again.  Even though I am not a worrier, it is always nice to hear those words.

I also heard today from the kind soul who adopted the dog I found wandering our neighborhood last year.  Tramps   has found his permanent home and is thriving.  His heartworms are cleared up, he has gained 8 pounds and is happy as a clam!  Thank you Maka!

So instead of National Relaxation Day, I think it is National Gratefully Blessed Day!

More Rain in August

August 14, 2017

I am not sure if it rained all over Arkansas today, but it poured in Little Rock for a good while. In between we had scattered rainfall and very low temperatures for August.  At least it wasn’t raining early when all the kids were headed back to their first day of school. Wasn’t the traffic worse than normal?!  I guess this is the new normal until next May!

Today we did get out the registration form for the MG Appreciation Day in El Dorado October 9.  The event is free to all Master Gardeners unless you want to buy a t-shirt or order lunch.  The Union County Master Gardeners have really kicked into high gear with their planning of this event. They are lining up numerous speakers that will be stationed throughout the gardens, talking on bulbs, pollinators, propagation, container gardening, unusual trees, making your own tea, and more.  Our own Sherrie Smith will be there with her microscope to diagnose any of your plant problems.    and we are hoping to have some entomologists on hand to talk bugs.   Our frequent rains and milder conditions have led to an increase in insects and diseases, so if you aren’t sure what you have, bring samples!

Look at the awesome t-shirt design.  El Dorado had an art contest for elementary school children in conjunction with the garden and this is one of the winning designs. The top drawings were made into posters which hang in the garden year-round. The Union County Master Gardeners picked this design by artist Hope Peek.   It is appropriate since the garden will have loads of pumpkins in October when we are there. I think it is special that the Master Gardeners are truly celebrating this child’s art!  Way to go Union County.  The design is available on short and long-sleeved shirts. Order forms went out today.

Union County is nothing if not community-minded.  In addition to honoring local children, the local county Master Gardeners are going to have a bulb sale the day of the event and are donating the profits to the Team Corrie Cancer Foundation, a local foundation that  makes grants to cancer patients from Union County in honor of Corrie Gross Bechtelheimer a local young woman who lost her battle with breast cancer several years ago.

Mayor Frank Hash will make the trolley available for those who want to go downtown to see the shops, restaurants and beautiful square.  This free service will run between the Arboretum and downtown.   And for early arrivals, Main Street El Dorado is sponsoring a local delicacy in the morning– Spudnuts.  You will have to come to taste them, but I assure you they are delicious.

There are also 4 great lunches to choose from for a minimal fee.  If you pre-order one, they will be available at the gardens with seating available outside as well as inside the old cafeteria.  There will be additional vendors selling plants and other interesting items.  Those of you who are traveling from any distance may want to do what I will do and drive down the night before.  There are several optional hotels to choose from.

It is fitting that the information on MG Appreciation Day went out today, because I also received the official document from Governor Hutchinson proclaiming October 8-14 as Arkansas Master Gardener Week!

Farmers Markets

August 12, 2017

It was only fitting that we went to 2 farmers markets today to celebrate National Farmers Market Week August 6-12.  I love to go to farmers markets, not only to buy good local produce, but to see the people and the farmers connecting.  Two of the best markets are in NW Arkansas.  The first stop was the Bentonville Market on the square.  They had loads of fresh produce, plus coffee, pastries, cheese, meat, flowers, arts and crafts and music.  It is also in a beautiful setting with some lovely gardens which have a great mix of annuals, perennials, tropicals, houseplants and trees and shrubs.   

We packed up our purchases and headed to the Fayetteville Farmers Market, which has led the way for locally grown and community oriented markets. They had activities for kids and adults, along with tons of produce, fresh flowers, bread, cheese, meat and arts and crafts.  There was a man making tools, a woman carving wood and the humane society trying to get pets adopted.  Many of the shoppers had their dogs with them as they shopped, ate and visited.    The UA Entomology department was there to show bugs and answer questions.   The Fayetteville Square also has a lovely landscape with so many plants in bloom. 

We ended up buying a wide variety of fresh vegetables from heirloom tomatoes and colorful peppers to corn and squash and garlic.  I wish my home garden was producing more–I have neglected it way too much this summer and it is in need of renovation. I am still getting peppers and a few tomatoes, plus okra and kale, but I need to spend some time in my own yard.

I did walk the garden this afternoon after we got home.  I really like the Jubilation Gardenia.     This is the second bloom of the season and it is loaded with blooms and more buds are coming. It smells amazing and it is in full sun.  My harlequin clerodendrum is also in full bloom and it smells amazing too.   I just wish it was not so invasive. It’s blooms redeem it, and they will continue to shine long after they are finished. The white flowers turn red and blue in the fall.

I have hardy hibiscus in bloom, along with a new variety of althea.  These plants are in the mallow family along with okra and cotton.  The Encore azaleas have quite a few blooms and should continue through fall. 

Take a look at your spring blooming plants.  Many of them already have flower buds set. I have buds on my tulip magnolia, deciduous azaleas, camellias and dogwoods. We have had a pretty easy growing season this year. Yes, I have watered, but we have had fairly decent and regular rainfall.   That coupled with milder than normal temperatures has been a blessing.  Watering and rainfall has helped plants grow but it also leaches out nutrition.  I have decent blooms on my annuals but they definitely need a little more fertilizer.     Tomorrow I plan to fertilize and possibly do a little renovating.  I did bring some new plants back from Buffalo that need to get planted.  I think I need a few more hours in the day!

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