Johnny Morgan, Schmit, Rene A., Bracy, Regina P., Owings, Allen D.
HAMMOND, La. – More than 200 Louisiana Master Gardeners braved downpours to be recognized for their volunteer efforts at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station on May 10.
Attendees came from almost all parishes across the southern part of the state, in addition to small groups from several parishes in north Louisiana, said LSU AgCenter Master Gardener coordinator Rene Schmit.
“The activities on the morning program had to be adjusted due to rainfall, thunder and lightning,” Schmit said.
But the dedication of this volunteer group was again realized when 203 attendees participated in the day’s activities.
“Each year Louisiana Master Gardeners provide more than 70,000 hours of volunteer service to the AgCenter,” Schmit said.
Master Gardener volunteers get involved in everything from plant health clinics and answering gardening questions in LSU AgCenter parish offices, to manning booths at fairs and festivals, said Regina Bracy, resident coordinator at the station.
Some Master Gardener associations also are actively involved in the rapidly expanding youth gardening, school gardening and community gardening programs, she said.
The annual appreciation day has been held in Hammond the past several years to show Master Gardeners how much their volunteer efforts mean to the statewide horticulture programming efforts of the AgCenter, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Allen Owings.
“Activities for the day included a presentation by LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill, who emphasized to Master Gardeners the real problems associated with growing plants in Louisiana and why we experience some of the plant adaptability, weed, insect and disease issues that we have,” Owings said.
The program included contests, such as “Name that Weed” and “What’s Wrong with This Plant?” led by Bracy. Contest winners received plants as prizes.
Between rain showers, Owings conducted a tour of the sun garden, which is the location for warm season and cool-season bedding plant trials at the station. Ornamental grasses, roses, new shrubs, new herbaceous perennials and more also are included in the area.
“Featured plants this year included Louisiana Super Plants, ornamental cotton, 27 copper plant varieties, perennial salvia, new butterfly bushes and more,” said Owings.
There was also a presentation by Baton Rouge landscape architect Bill Rountree, who is known landscaping the McDonalds restaurants in Baton Rouge. The topic of his presentation was Drive through Color: Would You like Fries with Your Pansies.
“Bill has valuable plant knowledge from years of experience testing all kinds of new plants across south Louisiana,” Bracy said. “He emphasized proper landscape bed preparation, soil, irrigation and planting techniques and offered suggestions on alternative cool season and warm season flowering plants for south Louisiana.”
As Master Gardeners continue to grow in numbers, they increase the number of people learning about and becoming involved in gardening, Bracy said.
The LSU AgCenter Master Gardener program has 1,891 active members in 44 parishes across 23 programs.
For additional information about the Louisiana Master Gardener program, contact the LSU AgCenter parish office or Schmit at 985-785-4473.Johnny Morgan