By: Julie Conrey, Mobile County Master Gardener | www.MobileCountyMasterGardeners.org
There is an art to gardening in the deep South that does not flow through my veins and one that I have not yet perfected. Perhaps it’s a secret that those of us who were not raised on sweet, iced tea and crispy layers of peach cobbler will never know. I can attest to this: I have found that it’s not the picture-perfect experience that Southern Living and Garden and Gun magazines would have me and millions of others scattered across the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map believe.
Above photo: Master Gardeners Julie Conrey and Peggy Wright answer gardening questions for shoppers at a Mobile Botanical Garden Plant Sale.
Instead of showing up for Mother Nature in a crisp white shirt, L’Oreal Paris Oxblood Red Lipstick, a trendy UPF floppy hat and Birkenstock Super-Birki Unisex clogs, I wear an old t-shirt, more than likely dotted with small holes, baggy shorts, a pair of older knock-off Crocs and thick socks. Doused with liberal splashes of sunscreen and bug spray, it’s me, smelling like a chemical plant, and whatever the project “du jour” is. Having lived in Mobile since 2017, I have already pulled lots and lots of weeds, battled and defeated the villainous Asiatic jasmine which held a large expanse of our side yard hostage, thrown sod, killed some plants, plus cut, prepared, and planted several new flower beds, all while wiping sweat pouring down my face.
I have had plenty of help with these challenges, as I’m a proud Mobile County Master Gardener. And, most days, regardless of how much dirt has smudged my face and seeped under my fingernails, the group claims me as one of their own.
The mission of Mobile County Master Gardeners is simple: we work in cooperation with, and under the direct supervision of, the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, to disseminate research-based, sound gardening practices to residents of Mobile County. Our group was founded in 1992, and next year we will celebrate 30 years of helping and working with our county’s residents as they beautify their spaces, learn to grow their own produce, and become more aware of and connected to the environment in which we live, work, and play.
I have found the title “Master Gardener” to be quite curious. I’m not a master of this art, nor will I ever be. Most of my Master Gardener friends will forget more than I will ever know about gardening along this stretch of the Gulf Coast. That’s okay. I like to think of myself as an actively learning gardening practitioner, growing whenever I touch the earth, participate in an MG volunteer activity, watch a tutorial, or attend a meeting or workshop at either the Jon Archer Center or on Zoom. My fellow MGs and I all feel quite blessed that the activity we love most was not canceled due to Covid. Gardeners work outside all the time, in most any weather. As a group, Mobile County Master Gardeners successfully met and volunteered through 2020, observing all safety recommendations. Please check out some of our accomplishments at www.mobilecountymastergardeners.org.
If you enjoy learning subjects as diverse as building a greenhouse or fighting invasive plants, you will enjoy becoming an MG. If you enjoy making new friends who share a love for nature’s beauty and the outdoors, you are ready to become a Mobile County Master Gardener. We invite you to join us in our gardening adventures. We welcome individuals from any area of Mobile County, and all walks of life, to take the Master Gardener class. Specifics can be found below. For more information, please call 251-574-8445, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garden Events for Your Calendar
What: Become a Mobile County MG in 2021
When: Classes (early August-early Nov)
Every Wednesday: 9am - 2:30 pm
Fee: For materials used in 12-week training
Where: 1070 Schillinger Rd N, Mobile
Application Deadline: June 7, 2021
More info: www.mobilecountymastergardeners.org/about-us
Or call 251-574-8445 or email email@example.com
What: Alabama Garden Chat, a Zoom
Space to learn about seasonal garden problems
When: Wednesdays, 2 - 3 pm (April through August)
Questions: Email AlabmaGardenChat@gmail.com
Join with this link: auburn.zoom.us/j/82398811386
What: Marketplace at Mobile Botanical Gardens
Plant Retail venue at end of our parking lot
When: Fridays, Noon to 2 pm
Saturdays 9 am to Noon
Where: 5151 Museum Drive, Mobile 36608
More info: www.mobilebotanicalgardens.org
What: Walk the Mobile Japanese Garden
Accessible entrance through trail #1
Where: 700 Forest Hill Drive, Mobile
When: Daylight hours daily
Fee: Free, but donations appreciated
More info: www.MobileJapaneseGarden.com
Master Gardener Helpline 877-252-4769