Friday, April 16, 2010

Lessons In Green Thumb-ery

I went on the internet the night before for directions, so I wouldn't be all in a dither the morning of the first class. Do the people at Mapquest subscribe to the notion that we are descended from apes? Their instructions are idiotically detailed! They map every quarter inch of the way, which serves to confuse rather than clarify.....But, if I take their fifty lines of instructions for getting from A to B, and eliminate 47 of them, I am left with the three that matter. Which I did, and arrived early for the first day of the master gardener course, which is being held, on alternate Fridays, in our county and the county south of us. Necessitating driving to an unknown location early in the morning before the coffee had it's full impact.

The trip was about 35 miles, through lovely rolling hills [a rare treat in flat Florida,] idyllic pastures with cattle grazing contentedly under spreading oaks, white-fenced horse farms, orange groves, and fields of blueberries. There was wisteria tumbling over walls, and blazing bushes of azaleas in full flower. From recent rains and warmer temperatures, trees and fields alike had burst out in green. Lakes sparkled through the hedgerows, and stands of wild flowers, in unexpected ditches, took my breath away......

And me without my camera!

My simplified directions brought me to my destination with fifteen minutes to spare only because I'd forgotten the camera.

Filing in, registering, pinning on name tags, everyone was quiet and nervous like the first day at a new school. Each one of us had to say a few words about who we were, where we were from, and why we were there. Then we played People Bingo, just to check that we hadn't been snoozing during the intros! After that the room started to hum.

The nicest surprise of the day was that there was such a great group of people taking the course; people from all over the U.S. and a few from overseas; people who love plants and trees and flowers; who care about the environment and conserving natural resources; people interested in growing their own vegetables and saving water and energy; people who want to educate children about where our food comes from. That apples, for instance, don't grow on the supermarket shelf....The children I know are aware of these things but, from what I hear, many children today have no idea.

There were a few farmers there; people who've raised cattle and chickens, rabbits and roses, horses and children; an entomologist; a dietitian; a retired teacher or two; a burly, bearded fellow whose hobby is fixing old tractors, a director of a wildlife preserve......and these are just the ones I remember. And of course there's me, and the Bean, who was late due to the pesky requirement that he attend his only Friday class first!

The course is run by the Extension Service of the State University. Each county has an extension office to provide scientifically sound information to residents on how to grow things in Florida, how to can and preserve the things you have managed to grow, how to raise chickens or cows or goats or pigs or pigeons; how to landscape your property with drought tolerant plants; not,for instance, growing acres of thirsty grass when water is scarce.

Master Gardeners help to get gardening info out by volunteering in demo gardens; in the Extension offices, answering phones; manning booths at plant shows, etc. Aiiiieeee! There goes my quilting time! I guess I'll just have to get up earlier.

That was last week. And already, today, it was time for class #2! Fortunately closer to home. My head is spinning with lists of invasive species, diseases that attack plants in this place and this climate, and plant taxonomy---fancy Latin names for plants and all the parts thereof. Amo,amas,amat was a very long time ago and did not prepare me for this! And quizzes too.... And homework....... We need to slow the days down so Fridays don't come hurtling at me quite so fast!

The instructors are friendly and knowledgeable, with fully functioning senses of humour; the material is interesting to anyone with a pulse: and taking the class would be worthwhile if for no other reason than to meet such a diverse group of people.

Meanwhile, quilt projects languish; laundry piles up; as fast as vegetables grow, weeds grow faster; Penelope Lively is calling to me from the night table, even though my eyelids are drooping---maybe just one wee chapter, to see what happens---and before I know it, it will be next Friday.......and my brother should be here, Icelandic volcanoes permitting......but that's a whole 'nother post!

Note: That picture at the top is of Cross Vine. It was growing in an arbor at the demo garden at the first class. Since I didn't have my camera, tyhis photo is courtesy of the internet!


riseoutofme said...

Sounds like a most pleasant way to spend a Friday!

The rest of the stuff can wait! Enjoy!

Friko said...

what a grand and ambitious thing to do. you'll be a master gardener in no time.
will you be giving Internet lessons?

btw, I like Penelope Lively and have many of her books.

Relatively Retiring said...

I wish I was near enough to join in, but even without volcanos it's a bit of a hike!
And yes to Penelope Lively as well.

Isabelle said...

Well, this sounds more fun than what I've been doing lately.

What is People Bingo?

Kacey said...

Isn't learning fun? I discovered that when I started Nursing School at forty....loved every minute. Your amo, amas, amat takes me back sixty years to amamus, amatis, amant, but I can't remember further amabamus, amabatis and amabat. Oh, well, guess I won't be needing it any more. Take your camera, so we may learn vicariously.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

It sounds fascinating . And the hard work will be a breeze since you're so involved with it all .
I'm not so sure about People Bingo , though . Another of these toe-curling Getting To Know You exercises ? The last one I did involved sitting in a big circle , rolling a ball to each other and naming the recipent successfully . Hadn't done that since kindergarten !

Warty Mammal said...

This sounds right up your alley - interesting plants, lots of information to absorb, and new people to meet. I look forward to reading your adventures.

Meggie said...

Those classes sound a tonic! Enjoy!