What Master Gardeners Do in Douglas County

Douglas County Master Gardeners reach out to the community through a wide variety of educational activities and projects. Among them are the following:

“Let’s Get Growing” Workshop

One of the most popular Master Gardener Activities each Spring is the “Let’s Get Growing” gardening workshop. Popular guest speakers are invited to our area to share their expertise along with local master gardeners.

In addition to the variety of classes offered each year there are always displays by area garden centers and suppliers. Some have items for sale like plant labels or specialty tools like some of the more unique hand trowels.

Master Gardeners’ Garden Tour

Another very popular Master Gardener Activity is the annual garden tour. Hundreds of people turn out every year to visit some of the beautiful gardens in our area.

Every year the tour is different with a variety of garden types on display for visitors to browse and pick up ideas they can use at home. In addition, Master Gardeners are available at each location to answer visitor questions.

  Terrace Learning Garden

Located at the Douglas County Service Center, circling the parking area in front of the library, is the Terrace Learning Garden. This is a display garden where people in the community can see plantings that work well in the county area. Plants are labeled to make it easier for people to identify plants they may be interested in.

Local residents and community organizations are welcome to participate in this project and regularly do show up to help with the work. Check out our calendar for work schedules. That’s a good time to stop by and ask questions, as well.

Gardening Classes

Community education classes are popular in our area and every time a new listing of classes comes out there are numerous offerings by Douglas County Master Gardeners. Because each master gardener has his/her own areas of special interest, a wide variety of subjects are represented. You will find classes on such topics as vegetable gardening, annuals, perennials, container gardening, butterfly gardening and lawn care (and the possibilities go on).

In addition, classes are also offered outside the community education program. Sometimes these are sponsored by local groups like one of the garden clubs. If you belong to a group that would like to sponsor a class related to your program, there is a good chance that a master gardener has an interest in your topic and could help out.

Master Gardeners’ Plant Sale

Without a doubt one of the most exciting events on the Master Gardener schedule is the annual plant sale. Be on time if you expect to buy anything! Hundreds of plants are sold each year and usually most of them go out the door in the first thiry minutes.

Most of these plants come from the master gardeners’ own gardens, but in recent years some others have donated plants (larger home gardeners who sometimes say, “if you come thin them out, you can have the plants!” But in every case this is a good way for many people to pick up a lot of great plants for a small price.

Ask a Master Gardener

Many people who have horticultural questions call into the Douglas County Extension office. One important project for Master Gardeners is answering those calls.

Many Master Gardeners participate in this program. Reference materials are available for more challenging questions and research can include university resources when necessary.

Kids/Junior Master Gardeners

Master Gardeners are interested in teaching children and youth as well as adults. A number of activities have been offered in Douglas County for this age group.

Classes are designed to involve students in real garden activities. Plantings have been made at the fairgrounds. Trees have been planted and bluebird houses have been located in parks. Seed necklaces and pocket gardens have been made at the library.

Heritage Project

An interesting Master Gardener project seen by many visitors to the Alexandria area, as well as residents, is the Heritage garden. This special garden is located at the Runestone Museum which distributes brochures explaining the garden.

The Heritage Garden was first planted by four Master Gardener interns. It is located next to the fence at the museum so entrance to the museum is not required for viewing.

County Fair Booth

Every year at the Douglas County Fair Master Gardeners sponsor a booth with an educational horticulture theme. Actual plants are commonly displayed (even weeds) with id information and recommended cultural practices.

Master Gardeners are often present to answer questions. Always there is information available about the Master Gardener program and instructions for applying to participate for those with an interest.

  Habitat for Humanity Landscaping

When Habitat helps a new family into their first home, Master Gardeners offer their assistance in planning for appropriate landscaping. Plants are recommended that will be easier for new gardeners to grow and maintain.

As with all Master Gardener projects, the focus is on education. Because the goal is to help the new home owners learn how to take care of their yard just as they want to take care of their home, time is given to providing personal instruction to family members about their landscape plants.

Rain Garden

Diverting rain water runoff is an important conservation concern that is addressed by Douglas County Master Gardeners through their Rain Garden projects. This is one of the newer programs in the county.

Master Gardeners work with several local organizations to help plan and develop rain gardens on their lands. They have also joined with the Soil and Water District to build a demonstration rain garden and a rain garden display at the Douglas County fair.

  Scholarship Fund

Each year the Master Gardeners of Douglas County provide a scholarship to a student graduating from a county high school. This is done in cooperation with the Dollars for Scholars program in which all graduating students compete.

In this program organiztions offering a scholarship of $500.00 or more can designate the type of scholarship to be offered. The Master Gardener scholarship meets this criteria and offers the scholarship to a student interested in either a two or four year education in horticulture.

Master Garden Bus Tours

In addition to the local garden tour sponsored by Master Gardeners, trips are planned to gardens outside the area as well. These trips are also open to the public.

Minnesota has many excellent gardens to visit. One of the most important, and a common destination, is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska where massive demonstration gardens display many of the best plants for Minnesota landscapes.