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Silent Auction Dinner

January 8, 2019

Last year at the state MG conference, the County 76 board had the idea to auction off dinner for 6 with me at my house. I was happy to offer it, but didn’t think it would go for much. A few Master Gardeners got into an intense bidding war, and Claudette from Garland County came out the winner. Due to busy schedules, we didn’t get it arranged until tonight. She drove up from Hot Springs with 5 other Garland Co. MG’s and we had an add-on from LR. Julie was my sous chef and helped me serve. It would not have been manageable without her.

We started off with a marinated cheese ring with olives and a spicy black-eyed pea dip. Then a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with pecorino romano, roasted almonds and a lemon vineagertte. The main course was sous vided Chilean sea bass with a blood orange beurre blanc, Israeli couscous and a medly of mushrooms, olives and tomatoes, followed by white chocolate creme brulee with raspberries.

We had a nice time visiting and eating.

The meal turned out pretty nicely, and I did get some help from my son and my husband. Clay made the creme brulee and Kyle bruleed them for me. He also made the beurre blanc.

I had the most issue with the fish. I brought these beautiful looking filets but I knew I would have to take off the skins, but little did I realize there were bones in them! And not just the main bone in the middle but little pin bones. I watched a you tube video and it said to sterilize needle nose pliers and pull them out–but that wasn’t working for me. I was worried we sould still find bones, so I did major surgery. Instead of nice big pieces we had medallions of Chilean sea bass and not a bone was found–thank goodness–and they were quite tasty.

It was a fun evening.

Jean Ann Moles

January 7, 2019

My dear friend Jean Ann Moles died last week.county 76 jean ann moles Jean Ann was a proud Master Gardener from Saline County. She joined as soon as she retired, and jumped in with both feet. She had leadership roles in Saline County but also was heavily involved at the state level through County 76. She was a character than will not soon be forgotten.

In her obituary one of the last lines is:jean 7 villa medici al fiesoli (13)Next time you meet someone else who knew Jean Ann, share a couple of “Jean Ann stories”. You will separate with smiles on your faces.  I have been smiling for a week thinking of all the Jean Ann stories I have.

Jean Ann started traveling with me as soon as she became a MG.As soon as a trip was advertised, she was signed up. She was a shopper! Regardless of where we stopped, she found something to buy, and not only for herself. She bought gifts for everyone. She also brought along NO WHINING stickers and passed them out at the airport before we left whining

She held down the back of the bus on every trip and was always the last person to be back on the bus. Once in New Zealand she was over 10 minutes late to the bus, and I yelled, “Jean Ann, we are going to leave you!”.  She yelled back “I’m LOST!”  She was in the middle of the garden and couldn’t find the path back out.  We waited and guided her out.  Her health  prevented her from traveling the past few years, so we nominate a new “Jean Ann” on every trip.  She was an institution!ds jean ann, karen.shjean ann and andrea.attea party jean ann.shjean ann and her award

If a dog or cat crossed her path, she had to investigate.jean-ann-cat

As smart as she was, organization of her personal items was not a strong suit. She misplaced her phone on several trips, and actually lost it twice. The first time was in Costa Rica and she had a huge bill once she got home and notified them of her loss.  A second time she lost it and she got a call from her husband in the hotel.  He wanted to know where she lost her phone?  She wondered how he knew, but of course the person who found it “called home”.  She got that one back.  We ribbed her often, so she was overjoyed when we were in Panama and I left my small purse at breakfast and she got to be the one to return it to me.

She had a quick wit and did not suffer fools easily, but she had a heart of gold and would give you the shirt off her back.  She worked diligently in gardening projects  all over Saline County putting not only her time into the efforts, but her money as well.  She was recognized for her efforts by her peers as well as her county.  jean ann award ceremony.04jean anns tribe

There will never be another Jean Ann Moles.  I was so saddened when she was diagnosed with her lung ailment, and although she gave it the college try, it overcame her best efforts, and she took that in stride. jean ann feb.17 (2) She regularly emailed me articles of interest on a wide array of subjects, and suggested books I might be interested in.  I knew something was up when I quit getting emails from her, and she didn’t respond to mine.

RIP Jean Ann, the world will not be the same without you!mrs. chair jean

Here is her official obituary:

JEAN ANN MOLES, 74, of Benton, died January 2, 2019, in the Saline Health System Hospice Unit. Predeceasing her were her parents, John W. and Matta Jean McDonald; paternal grandparents, Arch and Hallie Denman McDonald; maternal grandparents, Clarence and Grace Taylor Ratcliff. She is survived by her husband, J. Louis Moles, Jr., and three “critters” (Abe, Hu, and Little Bit) of the home; and her sister, Sue Ellen Montgomery (Ron) of Siloam Springs. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews, all of whom she enjoyed watching grow into adulthood as long as she didn’t have to change their diapers.

Jean Ann was born in Gentry while her father was elsewhere engaged with the Battle of the Bulge. Following WWII, the family settled in Huntsville. She graduated from Huntsville High School in 1962, University of Arkansas Fayetteville (B.A.) in 1966, and LSU (Masters in Library Science) in 1970. All her life, she had a love for books and reading, leading to a work history from librarian/associate professor at the Peabody School Library of the UAF College of Education to 30 years service at the UAMS Medical Library in Little Rock.

Following her retirement from UAMS in 2004, she joined the Saline County Master Gardeners achieving SCMG Rookie of the Year in 2006, SCMG Master Gardener of the Year in 2010, and along the way three terms as SCMG president. She was on the board of the Arkansas Flower and Garden Show serving as secretary. She spent countless hours tending “her” corners in downtown Benton and digging plants to save them from approaching construction activities. And the educational training. And then the tours, domestic and foreign. Jean Ann loved every minute of it. A perfect retirement.

Throughout her life, Jean Ann had strong mentors and friends, some of whom got her involved in the creation of the Arkansas chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW) and later creation of the Little Rock Rape Crisis Center. She was justifiably proud of being one of the “founding mothers” of these two organizations

At the request of Jean Ann, the body will be cremated and the ashes scattered at appropriate locations in Arkansas. There will be no service. If you knew Jean Ann and wish to honor her, you can mentor someone; you can befriend someone; you can become involved. She was a ray of sunshine. Next time you meet someone else who knew Jean Ann, share a couple of “Jean Ann stories”. You will separate with smiles on your faces.

On line guestbook at

Winter Gardening

January 6, 2019

While the calendar may say winter, the weather felt more like spring. It was the second day of warm spring-like temperatures.  I had some time to spend time in the garden. I fertilized my winter vegetables–the garlic and shallots are growing well.garlic and shallots.jan6.19  I also have some nice heads forming on my broccoli and the curly kale looks great as well.  broccoli jan6.19kale and broccoli.jan19kale jan6.19

Winter vegetables are not the only plants looking good.  The camellias have never looked better than they do this year. camellias.jan6.1913camellias.jan6.1915camellias.jan6.1912 Bees were hovering around the plants and I also saw a plant bug camellias.jan6.1914that was active today.

My hellebores are also blooming well and they also had bees flying around. hellebores.jan6.191hellebores.jan6.192

The mahonia is about to be in bloom too.  mahonia.jan6.1912

It was a great day outside, but who knows what the rest of our winter will be like.

I had to quit gardening to go to book club.  A Gentleman in Moscow was our book and it was well-liked by the group.  There was a lot to discuss as well.  Very well-written.a gentleman in moscow.

HIS Last Day from pollinators to carnivores

January 5, 2019

We had an excellent last morning in the Public Garden/MG section of the Horticulture Industry Show in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  Washington Co. MG Dani Dingman his 1-5 (4) kicked us off with an excellent talk on Engaging children with pollinators.  She had us all engrossed and showed an excellent video clip: .  This is a must see you tube video.  I am sure with Dani as a teacher, the children she is teaching are going to be experts on pollinators.

Our second talk was the most unique of the conference, almost the anti-pollinator plants–carnivorous plants, presented by UA horticulture senior student Juan Moscoso. his 1-5 (7) He waxes poetic on carnivorous plants, and has turned his hobby into a passion and now a business. his 1-5 (23)What started in his apartment has blossomed into even more growing space. carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (22)carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (24)carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (26) It was a fascinating presentation and I learned why my son killed so many Venus flytraps as a boy.  I did buy a sundew carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (15)sundew carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (22)sundew carnivorous plants.his 1-5 (24)and will see how long I can make it live.  You don’t use commercial fertilizers (or raw hamburger meat) to feed carnivorous plants–they would prefer some live insects but you can also feed them dead ones or dehydrated blood worms.  Their leaves are covered in tentacles which catch the insects.  They supposedly do a great job on fungus gnats and fruit flies–of which I have neither at this time.

Then our final two speakers rounded out the morning with yesterday’s keynote speaker Ray Moranz of the Xerces society with an excellent presentation on Monarch Butterflies and their host and nectar plants.  his 1-5 (25)his 1-5 (26)

and ending with Pulaski County Staff Chair and Horticulture Agent Randy Forst.  His talk was “It takes a village: creating a large demonstration garden.  He shared the plans and schedule for the horticulture demonstration garden they are putting in at the Arkansas 4-H Center.  It is going to be an amazing project once completed.  It generated a lot of questions and interest.  his 1-5 (29)his 1-5 (30)

The HIS is a great way to start the new year off on a high note with horticulture education.  Next year the conference will be in Tulsa.

It was an absolutely glorious day for a drive with not a cloud in the sky and mild temperatures–quite a difference from what we drove in going up on Wednesday.  Tomorrow promises to be more of the same, so I hope to have some time in my own garden!


HIS day 1

January 4, 2019

Today kicked off a great day of horticulture education at the horticulture industry show in Fayetteville.  The theme of the show was pollinators, and the keynote speaker this morning was Ray Moranz from the Xeres Society on What can you do to save pollinators.his jan4.19 (2)

After the keynote address, we broke into the various commodity sections with our section being Master Gardener and Public Gardens, but there are also sections on fruit, vegetables, organic/sustainable, local foods, and Christmas trees.  In the consumer section, we had some excellent presentations starting off with Kitty Sanders on the Butterfly House at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks,his jan4.19 (7) followed by Terri Phelan on grant opportunities, his jan4.19 (13)then Ananada Moscoso-Schmitt on display gardens on the UA campus, his jan4.19 (14)then Pollinator plants in lawns by Michelle Wisdom,his jan4.19 (17) and then after the break, Shannon Mason on the Floriculture Program opportunities at the UA his jan4.19 (21)Julie Treat ending with the annual plant trial.  The presentations were top-notch and showcased a lot of innovative ideas.his jan4.19 (1)

We had great participation all day with our classes.  his jan4.19 (11)his jan4.19 (19)

Tonight a group of us went to dinner and had some lively horticulture discussions.  dinner jan4 (4)dinner jan4 (9)dinner jan4.19 (3)

Horticulture Industry Show (HIS) in Fayetteville

January 3, 2019

Tomorrow morning registration begins for the 2019 Horticulture Industry Show in Fayetteville at the Chancellor Hotel which is on the square.  The full schedule for all sessions can be found at: and you can register at the door.

This is an excellent way to kick off the gardening season with some outstanding educational sessions.  The keynote address is at 9:00 a.m. and will cover pollinators and what they do for you and how to save them.

Today there was a pre-event at the UA Farm on high tunnels.  Led by UA Fruit and Veg specialist Amanda McWhirt, high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (13)they had a large crowd in spite of the gloomy and cold temperatures–but the rain did hold off.  They discussed the different types of high tunnels, and discussed growing vegetables, strawberries and grapes in high tunnels.  Very informative.  high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (4)high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (6)high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (8)high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (11)high tunnel workshop.jan.3 (12)

Since we arrived early we had time to get a plant fix at the local Westwood Nursery.  They still have pansies and spring blooming bulbs, along with some beautiful winter blooming shrubs from mahonia, to camellias and more.  mahonia.westwood.jan19pansies jan (1)spring bulbs (2)

It is official!

January 2, 2019

Today was my official last day as an Extension employee. I turned in computers, keys and ID today.  It seems a bit surreal.  As I was working on my home office, I did find this letter tucked into a drawer: janet letter 1980.2

I got this letter a week or two after I interviewed for the position of county agriculture agent in Pulaski County as an urban horticulture agent–the first female full time agriculture agent and the first dedicated horticulture agent.  I got the job and started July 1, 1980 and the next 12 1/2 years I served as a horticulture agent in Pulaski County, achieving my MS degree in 1992 and moving to the state office that November to serve as the consumer horticulture agent and MG state coordinator for the next 26 years.  It has been a joyful ride with way more ups than downs.  I did a call in radio show on KARN for 28 years and have written columns for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for over 35 years, as well as columns for Arkansas Living and Arkansas Gardener magazines as well as numerous other publications including Arkansas Times, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening.  TV spots started the second month I was on the job and continued with various series from 4 Your Garden on KARK, to morning shows on KARK, to noon shows, taped spots from Garvan Gardens and for several years our own 30 minute Today’s Garden show on AETN.  A highlight of my career was the beginning and growth of the Arkansas Master Gardener program and the legacy it has given to this state.  From the beginning of 4 county programs participating with less than 40 participants to over 68 counties participating and 3400 volunteers supporting extension today, it is quite a force to be reckoned with.

I will write for this blog a few more times as the HIS (Horticulture Industry Show) is happening this week and I am in charge of one section–the Public Garden/Master Gardener section.  I traveled to Fayetteville today to beat any weather and be here for the high tunnel workshop tomorrow.  Officially the program starts Friday morning at the Chancellor Hotel in Fayetteville and registration can be done at the door.

My replacement has not yet been named but whoever is, will do a fine job.  Then they can decide who will continue this blog.  I will continue to write for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, as well as Arkansas Living Magazine and Arkansas Gardener.  I will start a new blog, and will share the link once it is up and running.  I thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your gardening life and I have enjoyed sharing our gardening experiences together.  Happy Gardening!

Janet Carson

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