November 30, 2021

I am a master gardener today because of my grandparents. I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas and lived a couple of blocks from them when I was young.

One of my first gardening memories was following my grandpa around as he tended to his peonies, which lined one entire side of his backyard. He chatted with me about what he was doing as he worked and I soaked it all up. When my peonies bloom each year, I thank my grandpa for so freely sharing his love of gardening with me.

The climbing roses that hid the garage and the huge bed of lilies of the valley on one side of the house were my grandma’s specialties. I suspect she grew them because she loved their fragrance, which filled the house. Her love of fragrant flowers was a gift to me.

What we call organic gardening today was the norm back in the 50s, at least at my grandparents’ house. Grandma kept an old skillet with a broken handle next to the sink, where she collected veggie scraps. Once a day, grandpa would take them out to bury in his raised compost pile surrounded by stones. He called it his “worm farm”. I know now that the “dirt” I thought he was taking from that bed and working into the ground was compost. My grandparents didn’t know they were laying the foundation for my interest in being “earth friendly”. But they did.

We all have stories about what inspired us to become gardeners. Although our stories may differ, I’ll bet there is an element of “sharing” somewhere in your story. Was it a grandparent, a parent, a friend, a teacher or someone else who loved gardening and shared that love with you?

It was a longtime dream of mine to become a master gardener. I applied as soon as I retired and was ecstatic when I was accepted. I thought I knew what the master gardener program was all about. I knew I would learn about gardening and that I would be “digging in the dirt”.

What I didn’t know was that being surrounded by people equally passionate about gardening would be so rewarding. I’ve attended four International Master Gardener Conferences. The foundation for each one was sharing.

IMGC conferences are a wonderful opportunity to meet new people; experience different areas of the country; discover what other programs are doing; hear from top notch speakers; and learn new ideas you can use in your own gardens and programs. It’s five days of sharing and learning so we can all do what we do best as master gardeners – share our knowledge and passion for all things horticulture.

Please join us for the 2023 International Master Gardener Conference! I’d love to meet you and, of course, share with you.

Carol Fowler an IMGC 2023 Conference chair

woman in sunflower field

P.S. The photo on the blog cover page is my grandma, grandpa, great grandpa, dad and aunt a few years before I was born and before they planted their backyard garden and built their rose trellis and “worm farm.”