Local gardeners nearly at master status

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; A group of gardeners have blossomed after completing classes to become master gardeners.

About 18 students graduated to intern status from the county extension service&8217;s master gardening class Thursday.

The classes teach skills such as the differences between plants and how to care for them, Extension Director Don Smith said.

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&8220;Today, they took their final test,&8221; Smith said. &8220;Now they have to complete 40 hours of community service before they can be called master gardeners.&8221;

This is the 10th class of gardeners to graduate from the county extension service&8217;s program, which started in 2001, Smith said.

&8220;There was a need for horticultural information to be distributed to the public,&8221; he said. &8220;Natchez is known for its beauty. We saw a need for more people to distribute information that could help keep it beautiful.&8221;

Citizens from around the community signed up for the class for different reasons.

Margaret Brown joined the class because she wanted to learn more about a subject she already enjoyed.

&8220;My mother was a gardener,&8221; Brown said. &8220;I love plants, I love gardening. It&8217;s something I wanted to know more about.&8221;

After completing the class, Brown said she was much more aware of her environment and the plants that surrounded her.

&8220;God created all these wonderful plants, and we learned how to take care of them. We&8217;ve learned so much.&8221;

Leon Crawford signed up because he wanted to know more than his friends could tell him.

&8220;Growing up, we were so poor we didn&8217;t have plants or anything,&8221; Crawford said. &8220;I was interested, so I started asking my friends, and they told me to come to this class.&8221;

Ruthie Cole&8217;s reason for attending the class was a little more competitive.

&8220;I took it because my husband thinks he&8217;s a master gardener. I wanted to take the class so I was a step up and could argue with him,&8221; Cole said, laughing.

New interns said they learned from other students as well as from teachers.

&8220;Everybody has a different garden. You can tell by the questions they ask,&8221; said intern Sharon West. &8220;You may not grow that particular plant, but it&8217;s still interesting to learn about it.&8221;

The new interns must now serve their 40 community hours before they can be called master gardeners. They will help educate the public on an individual level and through demonstrations and workshops, like the one coming up in September. They will also work on keeping public landscapes trimmed and healthy.