Administration – January 2018

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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! 

Administration – November 2016

A Season of Thanks: President’s Letter

by Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener, MGANM President

As I write this, it is mid-October, but the trees have barely begun to change.  We are enjoying the last warm days of the fall, and we are grateful for the upcoming season of rest.  The earth prepares for its long winter nap.  We are ready.  It has been a busy year.

In September, the Association conducted a referendum vote using an electronic service website called  We held a referendum to determine if we should affiliate with the Michigan Master Gardener Association (MMGA), as many other of the Master Gardeners across the state have done.  Affiliation was recommended by MSU Extension as well as the MGANM board.  We discussed this in two general member meetings as well as wrote about it in several The Real Dirt issues.  The reason that we used an election website was because we need to document a positive vote to affiliate as part of the application process for MMGA. 

The election ran from September 30 until October 11.  We had 36 out of 54 respondents vote “yes”  for 67% approval.  We only needed a simple majority.  There were no “no” or “abstain” votes.  There was only one comment “This seems like a prudent and logical move for the MGANM.”   

We discovered an issue through the election process.  We had some incorrect email addresses in our files.  If you do not get emails from MGANM, and did not receive a ballot,  please email me at so that we can correct our records.  Please also like us on Facebook to stay up to date on events locally.  We push out a lot of information through Facebook.

I hope to see everyone at the Master Gardener Volunteer Recognition Luncheon on November 6th.  This is a wonderful event in which to connect, break bread together, and celebrate our work.  The theme is monarchs!  Duke Elsner from MSUE will be the guest speaker.  He will give us the latest update on what is happening with monarch butterflies, and how Master Gardeners can help.  We will have a short business meeting with our officer election and recognize Master Gardeners of the Year and other awards.  The current board has agreed to stay on for another election cycle, but we welcome nominations if you are interested in serving.  If you are interested in serving on the board, we encourage you to join a committee and/or attend a board meeting.  It is a great way to get your feet wet and earn certification hours.

At the Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, we traditionally have a fun Silent Auction.  The Silent Auction raises money for need-based scholarships for the Master Gardener training class, as well as sending a representative to Master Gardener College next summer to build leadership.  We need your help!  We are seeking garden-related Silent Auction items.  If you have an item, please use the attached form here and email  We would love the fruits of Master Gardener’s labor such as jams, jellies, canned goods.  We also love beautiful garden books or other garden accessories.  Gift certificates from businesses you frequent are also popular items.  We would like to have the items in advance by November 4th and we can arrange pickup.   

Thanks for all you do, and hope to see you soon!

Administration – Sep ’16

Happy Reflections and Looking Forward

Michele Worden, Advanced Master Gardener

As I write this letter, the gentle pitter patter of the rain falls on my roof.  I feel the Earth breathe a sigh of relief.  The hot and dry August weather has been a bonus for beach-goers but a trial for the parched gardens and farms in Northern Michigan.

I am feeling grateful today.  I am so grateful for all the volunteers that made the 20th Anniversary Party happen.  The food was delicious – the lavender ice cream to die for – and the decorations beautiful.  Many hands make light work!   We even raised some funds for scholarships through the Silent auction.

I feel grateful to have had such a large turnout of old friends and new.   The room was packed!   It was a bit like a family reunion.  We created a fun video for the celebration from pictures of past and present projects and friends.  The link to the video can be found here.    We also created a t-shirt celebrating our 20th Anniversary.  If you would like to order a t-shirt, you can find the order form: Master Gardener Order Form.   It is a great way to mark the year and it is beautiful.  Orders are due September 15.  Send questions on t-shirts to

I am feeling grateful for the wonderful presentations on the Native Plant Gardens and Green Roof Project.  Truly excellent work by all.   We received many compliments from attendees on the quality of the programs at the event.  A big thanks to Nate Griswold for explaining the value of green roofs and green infrastructure to our communities.  I learned so much about the efforts of the Master Gardener and Conservation District volunteers.  These demonstration gardens really further our mission by educating the public about landscape sustainability and watershed stewardship.   If you would like to know more or get involved in either worthy project, email and we will connect you!  There is still time to get your 2016 volunteer hours in.

Looking forward to September, I am excited to present a Master Gardener field trip to Kay Charter’s Saving Birds Thru Habitat in Omena.  Kay will give a presentation followed by a guided walk on the grounds on September 6th at 6 p.m.  Please rsvp to  as space is limited for this event.

Also in September, be on the look out for a link to vote on affiliating with the Michigan Master Gardener Association.  This was discussed at the February and June meetings and the consensus by the attendees was that the association was ready for this next step in our progress.  But we need to have an official majority vote for the record.

At the October 4th meeting, we will be welcoming Penny Krebiehl from Little Artshram and the Great Rivers and Lakes Permaculture Institute.  Penny will be talking about “What is Permaculture?” and how it relates to traditional horticulture.

Last but not least, we hope to see you at the Volunteer Recognition dinner in November!


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