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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • The 'golden girls' of gardening

  • Imagine a place with breathtaking beauty, unfolding before your eyes the most luxurious blooms of flowers and vegetables one has ever seen.
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  • Imagine a place with breathtaking beauty, unfolding before your eyes the most luxurious blooms of flowers and vegetables one has ever seen. Well, that's what you will find when you stroll through some of the gardens handcrafted by the Master Gardeners.
    Katherine Gerges, president of the Leavenworth Master Gardeners, said the program started in 1972 as a organization, then branched off to Leavenworth in the mid 1990s. Gerges believes the group established a role in the community for those interested in gardening or would like to know more about their own garden. Individuals are able to take the course and become a fellow Master Gardener.
    "If people have a problem with their garden they can call and we can give them help," Gerges said. "It benefits the whole community."
    The organization in Leavenworth has around 70 members with all their members having different interests. Jane Lemm, member of the Leavenworth Master Gardeners, is new to the group and just completed her course to become a Master Gardner. She really appreciates the help with planting stages as she is from Arizona which requires a totally different type of planting regime. She said it's a different experience coming from a place where you don't have the same plants grow.
    "I really hope I get the chance to keep learning," Lemm said. "I just like doing it, I like being outside in my garden."
    The Master Gardeners organization requires its members to take courses and to volunteer their time to projects. Gerges said the people who maintain their memberships in the group are those who don't work during the day or are recently retired. She said it's on a lot of people's to do list but with limited time they can contact them for answers about their gardens.
    "You learn so many things, but we are not like encyclopedias," Gerges said. "We don't know everything about gardening which people think we do, however we know the resources and where to get the answers."
    Leslie Penney, member of the Leavenworth Master Gardeners, came from a military background and had no gardening experience before taking the course to become a Master Gardener. She moved from city to city and never settled down long enough to create her own garden until she moved to Leavenworth.
    "We are all like-minded people, everybody has their thing," Penney said. "It was a way to get into the community and have a sense of belonging to a great cause."
    Knowledge is the one key aspect for Mikey Stafford, vice president of the Leavenworth Master Gardeners. Learning new and creative things about plants and vegetables is an important tool for her when creating and discussing improvements to others' gardens. Stafford said she loves to learn different things such as not putting sand in her yard and knowing why not to put it in her yard.
    Page 2 of 2 - "The educational aspect of it is great," Stafford said. "I have a good memory for weird stuff."
    The gardeners will be hosting their own Garden Tour on June 15 for the first time. Mikey Stafford, vice president of the Leavenworth Master Gardeners, said it's a great way to receive knowledge from others who have planted their own garden and have seen the ups and downs of the ways they treated their garden.
    Gerges said it's a great way for people to get involved, interact with one another and learn ways to enhance and improve their gardens and to have a good time. The focus of the tour is to show what research has shown and what worked in their gardens.
    "A lot of people learn stuff from their mothers and grandmothers, and a lot of that knowledge is good," Gerges said. "But, at times it's not correct, and that's why we stress researched-based information."
    The Master Gardeners exhibit similar signs of the hit television show the Golden Girls as a group of friends that come together no matter what they are interested in and have a blast as long as they are doing it together. The group agreed that everyone is welcome from all walks of life and everyone here enjoys their garden or someone else's garden.
    "We have people in our group who have been here since the very beginning in Leavenworth County," Gerges said. "They are in their 70's, we even have a member who is in her 80's."
    Those interested in becoming a Master Gardener can contact the Leavenworth Master Gardeners at leavenworthmastergardeners@yahoo.com and find out more information. Gerges and Stafford said the next course will be offered Sept. 13 and those interested should contact them for more information on the course.
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