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Lynn Kunstman

Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs

By Beet 2023 03 March

Our mission as Master Gardeners is to educate about sustainable gardening.  And what could be more sustainable than growing your own food?  Growing your own herbs is part of that.   Growing herbs can save you money and save water and shipping resources.  Plus, there is nothing more satisfying than walking outside with a pair of kitchen shears to collect the herbs you need for a recipe.

Many of the culinary herbs we use are woody perennials native to the dry Mediterranean region.  As we have a Mediterranean climate here in the Rogue Valley, they are a perfect choice for our gardens and kitchens.  Why spend good money on four sprigs of sage packaged in a plastic clamshell at the supermarket, when you can easily grow it in your yard?

The woody perennials herbs include: sage (Salvia officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris), rosemary (Rosmarius officinalis), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and oregano (Oregano vulgaris).  They are easy to grow and tend to thrive on neglect. A word of warning about oregano: it is now listed on the Oregon Invasive species list, as it escapes easily from gardens.  I recommend an alternative, Oreganum syriaca, which has a similar flavor profile, and is used in the middle eastern spice Za’atar.  And for those who like a licorice flavor profile, French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) is well worth growing.  It must be grown from cuttings, as the seeds are sterile.  Other perennial herbs that are very easy to grow are chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and garlic chives (Allium tuberosum).  Both are vigorous clumping bulbs with edible leaves and flowers.  They spread readily by clumping and reseeding.  Many kinds of mint (Mentha) can also be grown, but be sure to grow them in containers, as they will spread aggressively around the yard.  They need more water than most other herbs.

Annual herbs I recommend for companion planting in your summer vegetable garden include basil (Ocimum basilicum), dill (Anethum graveolens), and coriander (Coriandrum sativum).  Coriander seeds are ground for the spice coriander, while the leaves are what we know as cilantro. Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida), which is actually a marigold, is used as a replacement herb for French tarragon.

Biennials you should plant are parsley and fennel.  As with oregano, fennel needs a warning.  It is also on the invasive species list, so if you are growing it for seed, please encase those in a paper bag to dry for harvest, so they do not enter the environment.  The stems and leaves of fennel may be harvested before the flowers develop. Both the biennials and the annuals have the added value of attracting pollinators and tiny beneficial predatory and parasitic wasps, which will protect your vegetables from pest insects.  In fact, all the herbs mentioned here are terrific nectar plants for butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.  What is not to love?

All of these herbs can be found at local garden centers, and most will be available for sale in the JCMGA greenhouses at the Spring Garden Fair at the Extension on May 6th, this spring.  Try growing some in your garden this year, and GARDEN FOR LIFE!

Keystone Native Trees Promote Biodiversity

By Beet 2023 02 February

By now, most gardeners understand the importance of native plants in performing our critical ecosystem services. These services are carbon sequestration, soil restoration, food web value, wildlife habitat, watershed value, pollinator habitat, and weather moderation. While the exotic plants we grow in our gardens may perform some of these functions, they do not contribute to the food web in any sustainable way. Native plants, adapted to our area, are truly the workhorses of biodiversity and ecosystem stability.

That said, not all native plants contribute at the same level. In fact, about 5% of plants support around 75% of insects. These are called KEYSTONE plants, because of their critical function and contribution to ecosystems.   And as insects are the food of most vertebrate species, we must support and increase their numbers as much as possible. We can have a positive and quite efficient effect in our yards by choosing and planting local keystone native plants.

Begin with trees, which are the food web powerhouses, both for pollinators (yes, the bees are in the trees!) and for insect bird food. Rogue Valley trees listed in this article will be linked to the Oregon Flora where you can read a description of each. If you have a small suburban yard, some of these trees may not be appropriate. Here are our top keystone trees:

Native Willows (Salix): In the western United States, willow trees host the highest number of moths and butterflies (312 species of Lepidoptera), which are the primary source of food for our songbird nestlings and fledglings. These are NOT the weeping willow planted in yards and parks, which comes from Asia. Oregon willows are widespread and varied.  Several occur in Jackson County. They prefer wet sites and should not be planted on small lots or near drain or sewer lines, as they will invade pipes. But if you have property with a creek, or low wet area, by all means get some established.

Native Cherry (Prunus):  Most of us are familiar with Prunus avium, the sweet cherry introduced from Europe that is now naturalized throughout much of the Willamette Valley and coastal mountains. Birds have carried these seeds to wild areas where they establish. Please plant one of our three native cherries, Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata), Klamath Plum (Prunus subcordata) and Chokecherry  (Prunus virginiana). All three are small trees which can be grown in smaller lots as specimen trees or added to a hedgerow along a fenceline to provide screening, cover, food and nesting sites for birds. Native cherries host 240 species of Lepidoptera.

Native Oaks (Quercus): Our local native oaks are Canyon Live Oak (Quercus chrysolepis), Garry or Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana), California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii), and a quite nice shrubby chaparral species, Huckleberry Oak (Quercus vacciniifolia). This last is not a huckleberry, but a true oak, with acorns and leaves that resemble Vaccinium. Hence the name. Western oaks host over 200 species of moth and butterflies and tasty caterpillars for baby birds.

There are many other keystone trees you could explore: birches, alders, aspen, poplars, Douglas Fir and maples. Choose trees that are appropriate to your soil and water conditions.

Some of these plants and many more are for sale in our JCMGA nursery, on the SOREC Extension campus, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. The nursery is open for sales on Wednesdays from 10 am to noon, April through October, and by appointment. Contact Lynn at to schedule an appointment. We also have seasonal pop-up sales, so be on the lookout for those.

Garden for Life!

Holiday Native Plant Sale

By Beet 2022 12 December

On November 12th, the Jackson County Master Gardener™ Association held a Holiday Gala and Native Plant Sale at SOREC. Our Native Plant Nursery was open for plant shopping, and the auditorium had holiday crafts and gifts for sale.

Even in November, our nursery made $1,117. Not bad for it being so late in the year, although fall is the best time to plant shrubs, trees and most perennials. Setting up a plant sale on campus is easy. Since the weather was cold, we put the pay station in Greenhouse 2 and added some space heaters to keep our volunteers warm. Not having to transport plants from our site is a huge plus. We merely need to put out the sale and information signs and let folks wander the nursery space to select their plants.

Of course, there is always pre-planning for any sale. A volunteer roster must be made, and volunteers scheduled and contacted with reminders. Our Square card reader must be set up, with someone working who knows how to use that. I keep a plant sale checklist to be sure I have money for change, all the signs and prices in place, cashboxes on hand, etc. Chairs and tables need to be in place for the volunteers – although in November we already had tables in the Greenhouse, so we just needed stools and chairs for workers.

The weather cooperated. Though it was cold, we had no rain and folks were able to shop leisurely. We had some concerns about foot and auto traffic but had no problems with either of those. Sales happened mostly between 9 am and noon, which is good information for us for future pop-up sales planning.

Finally, none of this could have been possible without the hard work of all our nursery volunteers. Hugs and many thanks to all who worked in the weeks and days leading up to, and on, our successful day.                                                                                                 


By Beet 2022 12 December

Jackson County Master Gardeners™ is fundraising through December 15th through the BottleDrop® Holiday Give program.

You can pick up one or two blue bags in the lobby of the Extension office, fill them and drop them off at bottle drop.  Bottle drop is matching up to 20% of donations, so get your cans and bottles in by December 15th!

As always, JCMGA uses our funds to educate the community and for new Master Gardeners to learn, practice and teach the art and science of gardening in the Rogue Valley.

To read more about the BottleDrop Holiday Give program, visit

Please like and share this post, which can be reached on Facebook via either of these tags:

#HolidayGive2022, #BottleDropGive

Native Plant Sales are a BIG SUCCESS!

By Beet 2022 10 October


Our Native Plants Nursery is up and running at full capacity. And our recent Pop-up Sale in September proved to be enormously successful. Volunteers spent August potting nursery stock into gallon containers. Crews came the week of the sale on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and weeded paths, spread bark chips, weeded containers, put the nursery plants in common areas, erected sale canopies and put information and sales signs around the nursery.

The Saturday sale had a steady stream of customers until about 1 pm, despite the scorching temperatures. We sold 429 plants: 381 natives, 27 figs and 21 non-natives. We also sold three books. Sales totaled $2,378.00.

Customers were given handouts when they checked out: How to Plant a Native Plant, Keystone Plants for Specialist Bees and Lepidoptera by the National Wildlife Federation and a trifold of Seven Steps to Increasing Biodiversity in Your Yard, with a plant list keyed to our local keystone native plants.

During the coming weeks, we need to continue to pot on plants and begin to stratify the native seeds for germination next spring. We will have two more sales; the first is on Sunday, October 9th, from 10 am – 4 pm, at Pollinator Project Rogue Valley: 312 North Main Street Phoenix, Oregon. Here is the link to that event Please consider sharing this information and inviting your local gardening friends on Facebook and through other social media.  At this sale last year, we made $1,300. We are hoping to make much more this year. If you missed our September 10th sale, please try to make the October sale.

On Saturday, November 12, the nursery will be open for plant sales during our Winter Gala Event. Hours are 9 am – 3 pm. Holiday gifts, wreaths and decorations will be for sale in the auditorium on the SOREC campus – 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. And plants will be available in our nursery next to Greenhouse 2 and the parking lot. You can also visit the nursery and buy plants most Wednesdays through October from 9 am – noon.




Come Back to Us!

By Beet 2022 10 October

Dearest Master Gardeners,

This is a call to action from your JCMGA Board of Directors.

The last 2½ years have been a struggle for our association:  COVID-19, loss of our program coordinator, loss of many of our experienced board members, fire, drought, the failure of the well on campus, and the condemnation by the county of our Practicum classroom.  All have conspired to diminish our ability to function and left a small, core group of dedicated volunteers struggling to keep the association going.

Despite all the bad news, we have been able to accomplish remarkable things:  We have teachers at OLLI, and folks giving classes at Jackson County Library Services branches and to garden clubs. The Plant Clinic is up and running. The Demonstration Gardens are open and the GEMS are on site every Wednesday from 9 to noon. The Native Plant Nursery is bursting with plants that need homes. We have had pop-up plant sales and are selling our The Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley: Year ‘Round & Month by Month book at all the local nurseries. The rain catchment system is installed and waiting for its interpretive sign to be purchased and installed. As you can see, the small cadre of dedicated volunteers are working like mad, but we need YOUR help!

There are so many ways you can get involved.

  • The Plant Clinic needs more man/woman power.
  • The Demonstration Gardens need volunteers to help keep them presentable.
  • Our Communications Working Group needs help with outreach on social media – we could really use a volunteer tech person to help. We need folks with marketing experience, someone to help with the membership database and member services.
  • We would like to reinstate our Garden Buds program with the 2023 class and need someone to head that.
  • Our Membership Committee needs help planning and setting up for events like our annual picnic, first day lunch for students, graduation banquet and other events.
  • We need folks to help get the Spring Garden Fair back up and running, albeit in a smaller form on campus for 2023.
  • The Community Outreach Working Group needs speakers for community education, someone to work with Community Garden and School Garden grants and with scholarships.
  • The 2023 Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens will need speakers and someone to line up those speakers, starting in July.
  • Once our 2023 class begins, we will need an apprentice coordinator to place students with GEMS in the Demonstration Gardens.
  • And Practicum is always looking for more mentors, as we would like to get that program up and running again.

If you would like to become more involved, please contact Lynn Kunstman at and let me know where you would like to “plug in.” I will forward your mail to the committee or working group chair in charge of the area in which you have an interest.


Call for Plant Sale Volunteers

By Beet 2022 09 September

Greetings, Jackson County Master Gardeners!

We have volunteer opportunities for you coming up this fall.  For new students, these hours can help you earn hours toward graduation.  For veteran MGs, these can be used to earn your annual required hours.


We have the following Pop-up Sales planned.

  • September 10, 2022 – At SOREC Extension Campus 569 Hanley Road, Central Point 8 am – 4 pm (where our nursery is located)

We will need volunteers for this the day of the sale – to sell plants,  and Wed, Thurs, and Friday before the sale – to put labels on plants and place informational signs.

  • October 9, 2022 – At Pollinator Project Rogue Valley, 312 N. Main Street,   8 am to 4 pm

We will need volunteers the day of the sale, and the day before, to load equipment, and plants, and to transport plants

  • November 12, 2022 – At SOREC Extension Campus 569 Hanley Road, Central Point (where our nursery is located) 8 am to 4 pm

We will need volunteers for this the day of the sale – to sell plants,  and Wed, Thurs, and Friday before the sale – to put labels on plants and place informational signs.  This sale will be in conjunction with our HOLIDAY GALA, which will be in the auditorium.

If you are interested in volunteering for any (or all) of these events, please contact Lynn Kunstman at and give me DATES and TIMES.  I will be constructing spreadsheets for each sale, with volunteers’ times and contact information.

Thanks everyone for helping to make our fundraisers so successful!


Come Back to the Gardens!

By Beet 2022 08 August

Members and friends, we desperately need helpers in our Demonstration Gardens. We are back on campus and are inviting each and every one of you to come work with us on Wednesdays, from 9 am to noon, from now through October. Our goal: to get our gardens back to their former glory. If you are interested in helping, please choose a garden, contact the GARDEN EDUCATION MENTOR (GEM) for that garden and get signed up.


The Daylily Garden features more than 100 cultivars of the Hemerocallis genus. For more than a decade, volunteers in the garden have been crossbreeding different daylilies, including about a dozen new hybrids that will be registered with the American Hemerocallis Society. Marsha Waite is the GEM for this garden.


The Lavender Garden includes 80 varieties of lavender and more than 250 plants. The garden is the only one in the Pacific Northwest registered with the Herb Society of America. Part of the Southern Oregon Lavender Trail, open from June to mid-August, our largest garden needs lots of TLC. Please come work with Irv Johnson   and Margaret Clark .


Over 150 varieties of roses grace our gardens. These include hybrid tea roses, floribundas, grandifloras, miniature roses, climbing roses, and David Austin roses. Learn to care for and prune roses with Joanne Mitani, the Rose Garden GEM.



Water-wise gardening offers an attractive, sustainable landscape that conserves water.  The Water-wise Garden conserves water by using mostly drought-tolerant plants, by grouping plants together with similar needs and by mulching. Contact Monette Hoffmeister to work in this garden.


The Wanda Hauser Garden was the first Demonstration Garden at this site, established in 1994. The garden features a wide variety of common ornamental plants with less commonly known culinary, medicinal, and cosmetic uses. Most of the plants are perennials, while others are self-seeding annuals or shrubs. Marcie Katz is the GEM for this garden.



The Vegetable Garden demonstrates various methods for small scale home vegetable gardening. Methods include growing vegetables in straw bales, growing potatoes in very small areas, and cool and warm season cover crops used in carbon sequestration, weed control and nitrogen fixing. It features pollinator plants and a bountiful harvest of vegetables. Sean Cawley is our GEM.


The Demonstration Orchard boasts over 40 different apple trees. Many are of commonly known varieties such as Honeycrisp and Fuji. Less known are Bramley’s Seedling, Belle de Boskoop and Arkansas Black. Also present are varieties of peaches and pears. Sean Cawley is doing double duty as this garden’s GEM.


Peggy Corum, a 30-year veteran Master Gardener, started the Propagation Garden, and garden mentors Becky Belau and Sharon Maurin  teach how to propagate many perennials, shrubs and trees that are then available at plant sales to benefit JCMGA.



The Native Plant Garden showcases native plants found in this region that are suitable for the home garden. Native plants are adapted to local environmental conditions and provide food and shelter for native birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. The Native Plant Garden has expanded to incorporate a rain garden – a shallow depression designed to collect rainwater The rain garden captures water for a short period of time, allowing it to soak slowly into the landscape. The deep roots of the surrounding native plants assist in this water infiltration. Sherri Morgan is the GEM


The Native Plants Nursery was established to provide native plant material to the gardens on campus and to the community at large. We propagate our plants from cuttings and seeds, and grow a variety of annuals, perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Nursery work usually goes from mid-January to mid-November. If you are interested in learning how to stratify seed, propagate from cuttings, or just learn more about native plants and help with regular pop-up sales, contact Lynn Kunstman at


Our Perennial/Shade Garden has a mixture of shade, dappled sunlight and even areas with hot afternoon sun. Perennial plants are the backbone of nearly every flower garden. The lifespan, bloom time, culture and form of perennial plants varies greatly. Shade gardens are those with little or no direct sunlight. Since few edible plants grow well under shady conditions, shade gardens are usually ornamental. Doug Kirby is the GEM.


The Culinary Herb Garden demonstrates the numerous herbs you can grow in Southern Oregon that can be eaten, used as spice, or for tea. We need a GEM for this garden! Talk to Marcie Katz if you are interested.



The Wildflower Garden features flowers, shrubs and grasses that are native to the Rogue Valley. Our area is part of the California Province of Wildflowers which is considered a hotspot for native plant biodiversity. The garden also includes non-native plants that are frequently found in our area. The Wildflower Garden was registered as a Monarch Way Station in 2015. Sue Koury is our GEM.


Our Vineyard Garden is being replanted in wine grapes. This garden needs a GEM! Are you that person? You would work closely with our viticulturist, Dr. Alexander Levin, who, by the way, speaks both Spanish and Russian.

Better Know a Native

By Beet 2022 07 July

You are all well aware that I have been beating the Native Plants drum for some time now. Last year, I wrote a four-part series outlining the reasons for growing native plants. Now, with our Native Plant Nursery back up and running after last year’s water crisis, I thought I would begin introducing you to plants we grow. I am going to begin with ground covers and grasses.


Many folks are considering removing part or all of their traditional lawns, as the water situation in the valley evolves and concerns for conserving water grow. Growing native ground covers and native grasses can be a great choice if you are wanting a more drought tolerant, low (relatively) growing area of vegetation in your yard. While these natives will not tolerate the mowing and foot traffic of a conventional turf lawn, they will cover the space, outcompete weeds, and require much less irrigation. Remember that native plants have roots that reach many feet–typically six to fifteen feet–into the soil and therefore require much less irrigation, once established.


Currently we have two ground covers and two native grasses available in the nursery. The groundcovers are native Yarrow and native Self Heal. The grasses are Tufted Hairgrass and Blue Wild Rye. Here is a brief description of each.

    Tufted Hairgrass, Deschampsia cespitosa, is a native bunchgrass. It grows naturally in moist, high elevation sites; sandy or rocky shores; bogs & fens and requires medium water. It does best in part shade. The seeds are an important food for birds, and it is host to Skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae family). If you have an area that gets regular water, this is a grass you might consider.


   Blue Wild Rye, Elymus glaucus, is a cool season, tufted perennial bunchgrass. The loose to dense tufts have erect to somewhat nodding seedheads. The foliage is blue-green in color. Growing 3-6 feet, this decorative grass likes part shade, and will tolerate dry sites. It is a desirable species for use in erosion control. The attractive, blue-green foliage adds value to commercial landscaping projects. It is host to nine species of butterfly and moth.


   Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is a tough, lacy gray-green evergreen perennial herb. It grows 2-3 feet tall, with white flowers. It fills spaces aggressively, to form a thick, weed- preventing mat. Bloom lasts from April into September. It does well in both full sun and part shade and is especially drought tolerant. Added benefits are that it is fire resistant, hosts 10 butterfly and moth species, and is of special value to native bees.


      Self Heal, Prunella vulgaris, is a vigorously spreading member of the mint family. This tough little native grows 6 inches to 2 feet tall and forms a lush green mat. It is topped with lovely purple flower stalks from May through September. It can be grown most anywhere, with a little extra water in very dry conditions. In very hot areas, give it a spot that is protected from the hot afternoon sun. Self Heal is a favorite of bumblebees and butterflies, both as a nectar and a host plant.


All of these plants and many more are for sale in our JCMGA nursery, on the SOREC Extension campus, 569 Hanley Road, Central Point. The nursery is open for sales on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon through October, and by appointment. Contact Lynn at to schedule an appointment.   We also have seasonal pop-up sales, so be on the lookout for those.



Bottle Drive Reminder

By Beet 2022 06 June

Looking for a quick and easy way to help Jackson County Master Gardeners? Consider donating your redeemable beverage bottles and cans. 

It’s easy! Pick up a BLUE BAG or two (no more than two please) from the table in the lobby of the Extension office and fill it with clean, empty, beer, soda, water, tea, or juice container–ANY bottle or can that has the OR 10 cents redemption value listed on the label. Once your bag is full, you can drop it off at any of the following bottle redemption sites: 

  • 1179 Stowe Ave, Medford, OR 97501
  • 2727 Ave G, White City, OR 97503
  • 1040 Rogue River Hwy, Grants Pass, OR 97527 

Then pick up another blue bag and start again. Every little bit helps!