by Pauline Keegan
What is a Master? A Master is a person who rules others or has control, authority or power over something. That’s somewhat of a description of a Master Gardener. Around the late 1960s, the Extension Agent Farm Advisors realized they could not handle all calls from the “urban farmers” in the area. A core group of interested gardeners was recruited and trained by the local Land Grant University Cooperative Extension office to meet this need. This was the beginning of the Master Gardener program.
Master Gardeners receive many hours of training in botany, soil science, plant propagation, pest management and vegetable and ornamental plant gardening. Master Gardeners donate back to local communities by answering questions, researching specific problems, providing public speakers and much more. Don’t hesitate to call your local extension office for help with your gardening problems.
Here are some questions and answers that might help you at home.
I have a beautiful Helleborus Orientalis which is blooming now. The leaves seem to be freeze-burned. How can I avoid that in the future?
There are many varieties of Helleborus, most are hardy to Zone 4. Even those sited to Zone 6 should do well here. One factor may have caused the freeze damage. When a shade loving plant is exposed to morning sun after a night of freezing temperatures, the sudden warmth from the sun is a shock to the cold conditioned plant. When a freezing night is predicted, cover the plant lightly, a few handfuls of leaves will do. Late in the spring, consider moving the plant to a location that is not exposed to the morning sun.
Note: Helleborusis is considered a poisonous plant if ingested. Deer also know about its toxicity and will not eat it.
Is there any use for ashes from my fireplace?
Ashes are alkaline and will raise the pH of the soil if applied to certain plants. Plants that may benefit from a sprinkling of ashes are lilac, peaches and crape myrtle.
Send your gardening and landscaping questions and tips to Washington County Master Gardeners, 2536 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville, AR or call 444-1775.