The question: Why have an interest in learning about and volunteering for horticultural work here?

 

          As a group of Master Gardener trainees soon begins six weeks of training, their venues for learning and working show promise. These could extend into ventures into neighboring counties and to state conventions. For example, next week there is a chance to learn while helping pot roses at the Lee County Agri-Center in Verona. Master Gardeners can learn more by doing. They can volunteer.

          And, how do we further connect learning botany with volunteering?

          How do we connect botanical interest to childhood interests? A decade ago a chance to help the Lee County Master Gardeners with a noon educational session meant inviting a presenter. (His stories in a writing class had led to his being there that day.) Following a brief introduction, he reached into his pocket and brought out a knife and a tulip bulb.  Only those two pieces of evidence formed his program that day…along with his sharing his influence from childhood.

          As he worked with this bulb, he related his lifelong connection to horticulture.

          Dirk had grown up during the ‘40s in the Netherlands where his grandfather owned a nursery. As a child, he worked alongside him, apprenticing (thought then a requisite) for future days. Once for a birthday gift his grandfather gave him a knife and a ball of string with, “These are the two things that can help you the most. Learn to use them.”

          As he told of the wisdom in those words, he took his knife and began to pare the bulb into pieces. He told of how the Dutch propagated bulbs to grow fields of tulips that became their livelihood. As he spoke, Master Gardeners there took notes during our noon session.

          Here, now, do we not connect bright jonquils to seeing and learning as children? Most likely there’s a connection. Do memories not take us back to the row of bright yellow blooms that defined renewal, a border along the periphery of a lawn? We wondered then, as now, “How do they suddenly show green through that brown mass of winter?” Yet, there they are—yellow buds, harbingers from dormant bulbs.

 

         Remember hearing as a child, “Don’t mow the jonquils until they’re completely down”? Our grandmother would say to Daddy something like that. By watching over their late spring removal—after the grass must be mowed—she guaranteed herself another row next spring. No other work required. Just allow their stems to grow brown with our Whys? for a while.

 

          Lately, Master Gardener volunteers plan to help students in the schools’ greenhouses this spring. Then, they may connect, as we did in Mississippi and in the Netherlands, to our natural world. For future days.

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