Administration – May 2018

President’s Letter: Ready for Spring

by Michele Worden

Really – I am ready for spring.  Any minute now!  While I write this there is 2 ft of snow on the ground starting to melt in the sunshine.  It is disconcerting to walk in the woods full of snow, and hear so much bird song, when there is nothing for the birds to eat.   Remember to put out high protein food to get our birds through any cold snap.

The extended winter has really been crazy.  We had to cancel our April member meeting and the talk on herbs with Julie Krist due to Winter Storm Wilbur.  We also had to cancel our April board meeting for the same reason.  At the moment it is uncertain whether the herbs talk can be rescheduled this year.  We will keep the topic on the list for next year though!

Our May 1 meeting will need to be relocated also due to April weather. The Grand Traverse Conservation District Seedling Sale takes precedence in our meeting room at the Boardman River Nature Center.  Due to the cold weather the Seedling Sale has been delayed a few weeks. The growers cannot harvest the seedlings from the frozen ground. This means there will be seedlings in the BRNC meeting room on May 1st and the room will be unavailable.   We will be meeting at the Leelanau Government Center.

Meanwhile, some recent organization highlights include:

    • We visited the first night of the MG Training class on March 8 and signed up some new members.
    • MGANM participated in the Earth Day celebration on April 22nd at Twin Lakes park and had a terrific turnout for our living necklace project.
    • We are looking forward to the MMGA leadership conference on May 5th in Mt. Pleasant.  
    • The board voted to become a Trillium level sponsor of MG College and will fund another scholarship to the conference this year for leadership development.  Please consider applying!
    • MGANM will also be a sponsor of the Friendly Garden Club Walk this year.

We have increased our marketing efforts over the last two years and this has helped to attract new members and to strengthen community relations.  Every dollar invested in marketing has been a good investment. But we also need to plan well. On the horizon, please be on the lookout for a planning survey from MGANM.  Your prompt response will be essential to help us plan and grow stronger. The more responses we get, the better the data for planning.

Don’t forget to wear your logowear!  Help spread the word about the impact Master Gardeners have in the community by wearing your logowear.  Logowear can be purchased at the Oakland county website

Thanks for all you do!

Administration – March 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

President’s Letter: Impatient for Spring

Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner: Finding Master Gardener Projects in your area this spring

Benzie Lighthouse

President’s Letter: Impatient for Spring

by Michele Worden, Advanced Extension Master Gardener

The days get longer, and the extra light is intoxicating.  Every time there is a thaw it feels like spring is right around the corner.  Then it gets cold and snows again; winter descends.  But spring will not be denied.   Are you ready for some plant talk?

Upcoming programs.  We have two programs coming in March that talk about types of plants for your garden.  These programs encompass two ends of a spectrum in garden design.  

On March 6th, our own Cheryl Gross will talk about how to design your garden with native plants.  Native plants have so many benefits.  They promote wildlife, support pollinators and, when established, need less water and human support to thrive.  They also provide a harmonious connection to the fields and forests that surround them.  They are the best choice for a sustainable garden that supports out ecosystem.

On March 14th, we will again host Heidi Grasman from Garden Crossings, a Proven Winners™ grower.  This is a joint event with the Botanic Garden at their Visitor Center.  Heidi will present the latest cultivars of our favorite garden plants that she has been helping to develop.  These will be plants with showy flowers, new leaf colors, better drought hardiness or new forms (e.g. compact or tall).  Getting the next best version of a plant is a time-tested garden obsession.  Proven Winners™ plants have been bred for Michigan climates.  They are bred to be more resilient, need less water and to be more disease resistant.  In short, to be both beautiful and novel and to take fewer inputs than other plants – less water, pesticides and fungicides.  If you just must have the latest and greatest, these are plants that have a smaller footprint on the environment.  

We will also have a fabulous program on April 3rd about herbs by member Julie Krist.  I don’t know anyone who knows more about growing herbs, or cooks with them so well, as Julie.  She is the founder of our local herb group as well as past officer of Michigan Herb Associates – which has a fabulous conference each year.  Enjoy!

Planning survey on the horizon.  Finally, MGANM has grown much in the past two years.  We want to make sure we continue to grow in the right ways in the future – and meet our members’ needs.  Please be on the lookout for a survey from the board in the coming months as part of our strategic planning process.  We appreciate your time in completing it – and helping us meet your needs in the future.   MMGA is undergoing a similar process so you may see a survey from them also.  Be thinking also about what programs you would like to see next year.  It is not too early to be thinking about 2019!  Send program ideas to

Wear your logowear!  Help spread the word about the impact Master Gardeners have in the community by wearing your logowear.  Logowear can be purchased at the Oakland county website

Thanks for all you do!


Master Gardener Coordinator’s Corner: Finding Master Gardener Projects in your area this spring

by Nate Walton, MSU Extension Master Gardener Coordinator for Leelanau, Benzie and GT County

Spring is a busy time for everyone, especially gardeners.  At the MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, we want to make it easy for you to find volunteer opportunities.

  • The best way for a certified Extension Master Gardener to find information about local master gardener projects is through the MSU EMG Volunteer Management System (VMS).  The VMS homepage will often contain info about new projects or those that are currently seeking more volunteers.  You can even use the Event Calendar on the left side of the VMS homepage to find and sign up for upcoming MG events!  The full list of area projects can be found by clicking on the Projects link under General Information.  This will take you to a list of educational opportunities and projects.  Click on the project name for a description and contact info of the project’s leader(s).  The project information found on the VMS is maintained by your local MG coordinator or VMS ambassador, and it will contain the most up to date project information for your area.
  • A list of area Master Gardener projects can also typically be found on your local Master Gardener Association web page.  In Northwest Michigan, for example, the MGANM maintains a list of MG projects by county with links to partner websites where available.

When in doubt, contact your local MG coordinator or VMS ambassador for additional project information. 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for helping to make a difference in your community!

Administration – January 2018

Contents (Click on a title or scroll)

President’s Letter: Snow Covered Slumber

MMGA Welcome Letter

Celebrating in Style

President’s Letter: Snow Covered Slumber

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

As I write this, the snow is falling so heavily that my dog was completely coated in a few moments when I let him outside.  I can watch it accumulate with the naked eye.  The temperature is dropping, and lake effect snow is making us homebound and humble.  Winter is here.  Time to light the fire, make some hot chocolate and read gardening books.  Time to hibernate.

This is a good time to reflect on all we have accomplished this year.   I am grateful to see all the wonderful and impactful work Master Gardeners have done to support their communities.  I am so happy that we have a new coordinator in Nate Walton to support us.  I am appreciative of the MGANM board that has worked so hard for the past two years, and very thankful for the incoming board members Peg Burman, Sue Newman and Whitney Miller.  And please say thanks to Cheryl Gross when you see her for serving as Vice President for the past two years.  But don’t worry, she is not going away.  Cheryl will continue to serve as the editor of The Real Dirt.  (We still have an open Director position on the board.  Email if you are interested in serving.)  

In addition, I am grateful to Ruth Steele-Walker and the board of the Michigan Master Gardener Association for walking us through the convoluted affiliation process.   You can see a welcome letter and more information in this newsletter from Ruth.  Last, I am very, very grateful to the volunteers who threw such a great party at the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon!  Good food, good company and great prizes – both silent auction and door prizes!  And the decorations were fabulous Evelyn!

This is a good time to map our future.  There are changes on the horizon in 2018.  MSU Extension is increasing the Master Gardener volunteer and education hour requirements raising our certification requirements to be consistent with other states.   The Michigan Master Gardener Association will also be undergoing a strategic planning process this year.  What input would you like to give them?  What are your concerns and issues as Master Gardeners?  Who are we as diverse individuals of this group called MGANM?  How can MGANM best meet your needs?  How can we grow and thrive?  In 2018, we will be asking you these, and other questions.  If you have a burning question you would like to ask, please email it

Marketing is important for impact.  I know I have mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again.  We are hoping to improve Master Gardener visibility in the community by having everyone wear logo wear when they volunteer.  Being visible means the public feels comfortable asking you questions (helps outreach), positively influences county governments that fund the MSUE MG program, and helps attract new trainees to the program by showing that we exist.  You are our best advertising!

Logo wear can be purchased at the Oakland county website  MGANM also has organized a one-size fits all cobbler apron order.  We will have the ordering information at the January meeting.  We need a minimum of 20 to order and they must be prepaid.  The aprons go over the head with side ties and have handy pockets, with both MGANM and MSUE Master Gardener Volunteer logos.  If you are interested in ordering, please contact us at

Stay warm; and enjoy a happy and healthy new year.

MMGA Welcome Letter

Dear Members of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan,

On behalf of the board of directors of the Michigan Master Gardener Association, I’d like to welcome the entire chapter to the MMGA. We’re delighted that MGANM members have chosen to become an affiliate chapter!

For those of you who don’t know the MMGA history, our organization was created in 2012 to assist Master Gardeners around the state.  MMGA exists to provide a collective voice for Master Gardeners as we work collaboratively with Michigan State University to help us further the Master Gardener goal of educating others and to provide the peace of mind that comes with having liability insurance to cover any accidental injury you do to others while working at a Master Gardener project site or when giving advice.

We look forward to having MGANM as one of our affiliate chapters as we head into 2018.  Thank you for joining the MMGA.  Together we can continue to beautify our lovely state through volunteering and education.




Ruth Steele Walker

President, Michigan Master Gardener Association

Celebrating in Style

Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

On November 5th we had record turnout at the Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition luncheon and the crowd was not disappointed.  The decorations were superb.  Twinkling light strings lent a festive air.  A stunning table was set with bronze chargers and garlands sprinkled with walnuts and leaves.  The table theme was native plants and several made lovely centerpieces.  As always Eveyln Laman’s decorations create a party!

For the shopper there was a great selection.  Denise Brown from the Oakland County society brought an enormous amount of logo wear as well as other fun logo items to purchase.  My favorite was the water proof garden journal.  She had fleece jackets and vests, all styles of shirts, totes, water bottles – you name it.  Their store is online also.

We also had an amazing selection of items for the silent auction – everything from a Yen Yoga basket to a tour and tasting at the Grand Traverse Distillery plus succulent pots created by Master Gardeners and more.  There was furious bidding and many happy customers.  We raised over a thousand dollars for the scholarship fund from the silent auction.  Many thanks to Lori Piggot for organizing this!

Before we settled down to listen to Duke and Nate talk about climate change and insects, we enjoyed a delicious lunch.  Samuel, the chef from 9 bean Rows, did a great job.  Everyone raved about the food.  We enjoyed a rolled chicken dish with mushrooms, a harvest pasta dish, roasted vegetables in balsamic glaze, and a new greens salad from their hoop house.  But the dessert as to die for – pumpkin cheesecake drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with candied walnuts and pomegranate seeds.  

Of course, the highlight of the event was honoring our Master Gardener friends for their service.  Welcome new trainees!  And thank you all for your dedication and service to our communities!  Pictures of everything can be found on our Facebook page

Administration – May 2017

Sunshine and Daffodils: President’s Letter

Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

Daffodils of all sizes and colors are blooming in my garden, steps from my door.  In the woods, I see Dutchman’s Breeches, Hepatica, Spring Beauty – the first wave of spring ephemerals.  There are shades of green all around as the earth awakens and plants grow.

April 29th MMGA Leadership conference

The Michigan Master Gardener Association is busy growing too.  On April 29th they will hold their first Leadership Conference for chapter officers –  to share best practices, emerging topics, and foster leadership development of chapters.  Glynis Waycaster, MGANM Treasurer, and I will be attending, even though our member status in MMGA is still in process.  In the morning, Mary Wilson, MSUE state-wide MG coordinator, and I will be presenting what we have learned in our local attempt to create an endowment for a scholarship for the MG Training Class.  We will be working with the new Development staff person MSU Extension is hiring to make that happen.  In the afternoon session, I am also sharing a case study on what we have been doing in MGANM for marketing and fundraising over the last year. 

Dicentra cucullaria, Dutchman’s Breeches. Photo by MG Michele Worden

2017 Master Garden College June 23 & 24  ‘From the Ground Up’

Master Gardener College is full of educational opportunities, fellow plant nerds, and product giveaways.  It is so much fun it keeps me coming back. 

The two keynote speakers look great – Janet Draper,  Smithsonian Institution Horticulturist at the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden speaking on ‘Plants, Passion, and Perseverance’, and Dan Herms, Entomology Specialist at The Ohio State University Speaking on ‘Climate Change and the Effects on Insect Pests’

This is the first year the conference has sought sponsors to keep the costs down and make the conference accessible to all Master Gardeners.  We are excited to announce that green industry leader Osmocote has joined us as the presenting sponsor.   Michigan Master Gardner Association is also a top sponsor, which highlights their dedication to continuing education of Master Gardeners.

This year there are three local $250 conference registration fee scholarships for northern Michigan Master Gardeners to attend Master Gardener College.  MGANM is sponsoring one and Brian Zimmerman and Four Season Nursery if funding one.  The Botanic Garden is sponsoring one for their Master Gardener volunteers.  The purpose of these scholarships is to share information from the College back to our area.  Knowledge spreads outward in a ripple effect….MSUE also has some funds available for travel scholarships (mileage reimbursement).  Please see later in the newsletter for information on how to apply.  Hope to see you there!

Our next board meeting is May 4.  We would love to see some new faces with ideas for 2018 programming.  There is always an open seat at the table!   Also, I think there may be a few spots left for the Succulent workshop on June 6th.  Please call Breeze Hill Nursery and reserve your space.  See you soon.

Thanks for all you do!

Administration – January 2017

President’s Letter:The Coming of the Sun AND Tentative MGANM Schedule

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

It is 7 degrees outside and the garden slumbers under a blanket of white as I write.   The Winter Solstice approaches but by the time you read this letter,  it will be past, and the days will already be getting longer in anticipation of spring.

Looking back, we had a marvelous year in the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan.  We celebrated our first 20 years at the Anniversary Party on August 2nd.  We also enjoyed a wonderful luncheon at the November 6th Volunteer Recognition Luncheon.  Duke Elsner gave a interesting presentation on Monarchs; I am still amazed by the resilience of these beautiful creatures.  Duke also announced he is part of a new state-wide committee on pollinators, a positive innovation.  The Volunteer Recognition Luncheon Silent Auction raised $578 for scholarships for the spring Master Gardener class through donations and hand-crafted auction items.  Master Gardeners are a talented and generous bunch!

We also remember the beloved Master Gardener colleagues we lost this year, Shirley Bowen and Rick George.

Looking forward to 2017, based upon our unanimous vote this past fall. we will be making a formal application to join the Michigan Master Gardener Association.

We also look forward to fun and educational programs and field trips in 2017.  Information on the events will be posted on the MGANM website and will be also on our Facebook page  and in community calendars.  We hope to put up posters around town to bring some of the public to our meetings as well.  All of our programs are open to the public.  As a reminder, MGANM meetings are a perfect way to earn both education and volunteer hours.  You earn 1.5 hrs for both education and volunteering by attending.

A  preview of what is in store: 

Februrary  7 – Michelle Ferrasese will present “Smart Gardening – plants and practices for sustainable gardening”

March 7  – Proven Winners will come to Traverse City and tell us “What is hot in 2017?”  This will be a joint event with the Botanic Garden Society at the Visitor Center.  Tentative.

April 4 – Wild Harvesting, Speaker TBD

June 6 – Succulent project at Breeze Hill.   This is a Master Gardener field trip and a fee is required.  Space is limited and reservation is secured with your check.  The fee covers materials for the project you will create as you propagate succulents.  Choices will include a wreath, terrariums, etc.

July 11 – Tour and Tasting at Light if Day Tea Farm with Angela Macke.  Tour the only camellia sinensis (tea plants) grown under hoop houses, on an organic and biodynamic farm.  This is a Master Gardener field trip, there is limited in space and a fee will be required.  It will be partially underwritten by MGANM a partially by attendees.  The cost will be a significant reduction in price from public tour rates.

August 1 – Rebecca Finneran presents “Smart Plants for Pollinators”.

October 3 – Brian Zimmerman of Four Season Nursery presents “Plants Deer Don’t Eat”

Please like MGANM on Facebook to keep current with events and news, as well as check the website.  Events and information are posted in a timely fashion on Facebook because it is so fast to easy.  Check there in case if inclement weather or last minutes changes in events.

Thank you for all you do.  Keep dreaming of spring! 


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