Anne Wood joined the Henderson County Master Gardener Association after much consideration. She states, “The Master Gardener program had been on my radar for a number of years, but I just didn’t have the time to complete the requirements.” Then, in 2018, she moved to Athens. “New to the area, it seemed like a great way to meet like-minded people and learn specific how-to’s to make me a better gardener and steward of the land.”
Like many gardeners, Wood has a favorite plant. “I tend a collection of orchids, some of which I’ve had for over 15 years. The sheer beauty and uniqueness of the flowers plus the variety of plant types within the species has kept me captivated since I first saw an orchid exhibit at the National Botanical Garden in Washington D.C. Completely smitten, I purchased my first orchid not too long afterward in 2001.”
Wood watched her parents garden and their skills rubbed off on her. “I’ve done some sort of garden growing for decades. Things just seem to grow for me and I’m grateful for that.” Besides growing orchids, Wood grows other flowers, herbs, and vegetables. “Last week, I harvested my first Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato. I believe it was the best I had ever tasted – so sweet and flavorful. The seeds were a hand-out at the Henderson County Master Gardener’s “Tomato Town” event last year where I learned so much about tomatoes. That Saturday was well-spent and proved to be fruitful as evidenced in my lush tomato patch this year.”
Besides HCMGA’s Fall Conference, she has also been inspired by the organization’s projects. “For beauty, I love the Dream Garden as it is so scenic and serene there. For practicality, I am drawn to the Harvest Garden. After making a couple of trips to the Harvest Garden earlier this year, I purchased the same kind of raised metal beds. I have plans to add a hoop covering later this season to keep my vegetables growing into winter.”
Of course, this year has been unusual due to COVID-19. As an intern, Wood is required to complete 50 hours of volunteer service this first year. “The restrictions have been a real hindrance to our participation in Master Gardener programs and activities, but I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty when things open back up.” To help Master Gardeners complete their required volunteer hours, HCMGA has implemented safe distancing practices at projects and has several opportunities available which can be completed from home.
If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, this may be the best time to join. With shortages and rationing having been placed on some items, many are interested in starting a vegetable garden. Wood believes you would do well to join HCMGA. “Most of my prior horticultural knowledge came from passed-along info or from trial-and-error experience. Since joining, I’ve developed relationships with several people and have learned many things that have improved my skill (and success) as a gardener. The Master Gardener program has been a God-send for me.”
If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, call the number below for an application.