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Marcie Katz

The President’s Corner — “We Put the Spring in Spring Fair”

By Beet 2023 06 June

By the time you read this it will be June. The sixth month suggests many things – we’re halfway through the year, kids get out of school on summer vacation, the summer solstice gives us the longest day of the year – and it’s gardening time!

All around the valley gardeners are out tending their newly planted tomatoes, squash, cukes, eggplants, melons and peppers, thanks in part to our Spring Garden Fair held May 6th on the OSU Extension campus. It was an incredible feat, considering it had been 4 years since the last SGF was held at the Expo. The Jackson County Master Gardener Association took a leap of faith that the community would remember us, even though the fair was smaller and only open for one day. Our motto was “If we grow the plants, they will come!” Of course, a large part of the picture was having a full class of 55 students enrolled in the Master Gardener Program and a Practicum that ran eight sessions a week, including weekends to accommodate everyone’s schedule!

This Practicum was very different this year as we lost our old classroom due to asbestos. Everything that had been packed up and placed in storage now had to be found and unpacked. Supplies were given a home in greenhouse 1, which served as our new “classroom”. Mentors came back – but at half the numbers – yet still we persevered with Jane Moyer and Lynn Kunstman as our valiant leaders. There was much to do, but the students and mentors did the work. The results were two greenhouses of beautiful, lush vegetables, herbs, ornamentals, and of course native plants in the Native Plant Nursery.

But that wasn’t the only setback. We were on uncharted ground, literally, as the SGF would be on the SOU Extension grounds. How many vendors could we accommodate? Where do we put them and where do we park all the cars?  Thanks to the partnership with SOREC, Alec Levin, our new director, granted us the use of a 20-acre field for parking. Surprise – it required driving over a one lane bridge to get in and out!  Sandy Hammond, Chair of the SGF Committee, arranged for volunteer traffic controllers and event signs from ODOT. They did an amazing job parking over 3000 cars successfully!

Sandy Hansen contacted the vendors and brought in some of our very favorites. With the help of Lucy Pylkki, they organized the site and volunteers, the use of two-way radios and how to run Square for credit cards at the cashiers’ stations. Janine Salvatti’s Garden and Grounds people did an incredible job tidying up the grounds and several of the gardens too, so the place shined.

Many attendees told us they were so happy our fair was back and that they loved seeing all the gardens and experiencing the Extension for the first time. Without our many volunteers we could not have made this happen – especially our student volunteers who really stepped up to the plate. We are so lucky to have such a great bunch!

So let summer begin! We are off to a terrific start! We can sit back and enjoy our gardens, listen to the birds and bees, and think about next year’s Spring Garden Fair!

The President’s Corner — Why Does the Earth get Only One Day?

By Beet 2023 05 May

May Day! It’s finally here, the month of May, the turning point, an end to frost and snow (hopefully) and time to get those tomatoes, peppers and other tender veggies in the ground. As we all know that “Mother’s Day” signals the coast is clear! But is it? Recent weather in the last few years has changed those old predictors, making us stop and re-evaluate. Super cold springs, scorching hot summers, global warming is real, the Earth is telling us to wake up and time to take notice!

I was recently at a local Earth Day Celebration. Everyone there was concerned about the environment, the future of bees, and the importance of native plants in our home gardens. That made me contemplate why we only celebrate the Earth for ONE day! I remember the very first Earth Day in 1970! I was a senior in high school, and very involved in ecology and zero population control. My school had a big outdoor assembly and invited guest speaker Eddie Albert (you may remember him from Green Acres), who was an ecology activist. I belonged to the Ecology Club, and we went to UC Berkeley to attend the burying of a car! What enthusiasm I had at age 17! How naïve! I rode my bicycle to work and back, mostly out of necessity because my car blew up, and being a poor student, I certainly wasn’t leaving a big carbon footprint. Then the years went by, and life happened. Although I moved to Oregon where life was slower and more in tune with the land, my only contribution to the earth was limiting my use of paper towels and plastics. We recycled, we composted, I got the Rodale Press book of “Organic Gardening”, I even made bread (for a while). Then I turned into a consumer, I had two kids and all that came with them, disposable diapers (the real ones lasted one whole week!). Baby wipes, plastic bottles, binkies, and sippy cups. My gardening time was replaced with two jobs – my career as a full time X-Ray Tech and then as a single mother. Earth Day was no longer on my radar; I was in survival mode!

Fast forward to the 2000s – the kids were bigger; I had a new spouse to share the daily chores with and I had garden time again. That’s when I started paying attention to the weather, and things, well, they were a-changing! We had hailstorms in July that dented cars, a month-long freeze that broke pipes, late snows that intermixed with 80-degree days in March, shorter springs and longer, hotter summers with less frequent mid-summer rainfalls. Now people were starting to take notice, as every year major weather events of floods, forest fires, tornados, and hurricanes were in the news.

But why has it taken 50 years? Why didn’t we listen to the predictions, and WHY does the Earth only have one day a year to be commemorated? If you are like me, you try to do your part – we don’t litter, we recycle, go to Goodwill and other thrift stores to buy gently used rather than new if possible, and fix things that are broken instead of throwing away. My old mantra is the “new” three R’s – repair, recycle, repurpose! I also joined the Master Gardeners upon my retirement and that opened my eyes to native plants. I went from a deer in the headlights, “duh, what’s a native”, to being an advocate who tells everyone who will listen to plant them. I watch Dr. Tallamy’s videos and read his books. I want to help the baby birds have lots of yummy caterpillars to eat and have habitat for the wildlife!

We need to celebrate the Earth EVERYDAY! You can do it too, by contributing to agencies that save the whales, clean up ocean plastics or stop the rainforests from being burned, and by planting native plants in your home garden.  This planet is not just for us. Every living thing has a function and part in this amazingly complex design of ecosystems and food webs, and we as humans have successfully turned it upside down. We can’t wait another 50 years. It will be too late; we may be the last generations to know of how the Earth used to be.

The Presidents Corner — Spring has Sprung!

By Beet 2023 04 April


A time for re-birth, the first day of spring signals the promise of the end of winter. Week by week, little flowers poke their colorful heads up to welcome the sun – crocus, snowbells and hellebore, oh my! We all look forward to seeing the bright, happy bunches of narcissus and daffodils that follow. Undaunted, even in snow, their sturdy stems standing strong, holding up the cups of sunshine yellow.

Spring brings with it optimism, waking us from slumber to reignite our passions. For some that may mean a thorough spring cleaning of the house, tackling overstuffed closets, garages, and attics. For others, it might be gardening! Avid gardeners have been preparing for this moment for months already, poring over seed catalogs, placing orders, re-evaluating garden layouts and beds. Some may have already started tomato and pepper seeds indoors, planted onions and garlic and have lettuce and kale growing. They have prepared their soil by adding amendments and checked irrigation systems, for the growing season to come.

I always find this time of year a tug-o-war struggle between staying inside and getting household (and computer) things taken care of, and being pulled to the outdoors, if just to sit with my face to the sun listening to the birdsong. I’m also a sucker for browsing the nurseries and garden centers this time of year, seeing what’s new in garden décor and the variety of plants that come in.  Sadly, I have been influenced by a pretty face during these reconnaissance visits, with plants that just seem to appear in my basket by magic! Surely I had a plan for where to put them in the back of my mind, right?

An organized person would have a set plan and schedule, committed to spending time daily or weekly (depending on the size of the garden), getting it ready, and checking off jobs.  I find it’s hard to plan an outdoor schedule since the weather in our area can change from day to day or even hour to hour. After all it is Oregon, and I must admit, I am a fair-weather gardener! Little by little, the things that need to be done eventually get done, and the things that don’t are put on the back burner for another day, or month or season. I don’t chastise myself for not finishing everything on my list – I want to take the time to watch the plants grow and smell the flowers! True, no one knows what the future holds, and we should live each day to its fullest, but that also means relaxing and going with the flow. We could all take a lesson from our gardens; every season brings about change, things grow, fade and die, and after the dark of winter, if they survive, they  emerge triumphant, ready to face life’s challenges all over again. Plants, like us, can encounter disease, pestilence or other conditions that makes them sick and weak. They either make a recovery, or they don’t. The point is they don’t know their future, they just keep on going, from the moment that little seed or bulb gets warmed up and sprouts until its last flower is spent, they don’t give up, for there is always hope for one more spring with all it brings!

However you do spring, busy with indoor or outdoor garden projects, make it enjoyable. Spread out the workload to minimize dreaded tasks. Pace yourself and be sure to stop and enjoy the beauty of life and nature around you.

Happy spring!


The President’s Corner

By Beet 2023 03 March

GEMs of the Demonstration Gardens

When you think of a GEM, a sparkly, shiny jewel comes to mind. One may think that GEMS of the Demonstration Gardens would be an exceptionally beautiful flower, a blooming tree or specimen shrub. In this case though, when we refer to GEMs, it is an acronym for Garden Education Mentor(s). These are the Head Gardeners of the 15 Demonstration Gardens that are located throughout the extension grounds. These dedicated Master Gardeners choose to work in their extension gardens for the love of gardening and an interest in what that specific garden offers. Many of them have home gardens as well, and so coming out once a week (or more) from March through October to tend another garden is truly an act of love and devotion.

Each year they sign a contract that entails: weekly workday attendance on Wednesdays, maintaining their gardens within the parameter of its theme, keeping records of plantings, products used, irrigation and other issues, attending monthly GEMs meetings, and most importantly, TEACHING! They teach basic garden skills to apprentices, as well as training them about the unique requirements that their specific garden needs. Since the Demonstration Gardens are open to the public, GEMs are often asked questions from interested visitors. All Master Gardeners can apply to be a GEM if they complete a minimum of 10 educational hours and 20 volunteer hours annually to be Certified, a requirement by OSU for Master Gardeners that teach.

The last few years have been challenging for our gardens, as for much of 2020 and part of 2021 we were not allowed onto the extension grounds during Covid 19. And oh boy, did our gardens suffer! Weeds reigned supreme, some growing to heights of five and six feet tall! Pathways were obscured and the beautiful resident plants had to fight to stay alive. It is still an ongoing battle, as weed seeds can remain in the soil for years but we are finally getting ahead of them! Then in 2022 the well went dry, and many plants suffered and died as the warm weather lasted into fall. If all that wasn’t bad enough, during those years many of our volunteers, to be safe, remained at home and for varied reasons retired from Master Gardeners. Because the care and preservation of the gardens is a primary issue, hard decisions were made during these times and so, unfortunately, several of our gardens have been decommissioned or their theme changed due to several factors.

Have no fear though, the current gardens are our pride and joy and are very beautiful.  This year we have great expectations of highlighting their glory with Garden Tours from local Garden Clubs and visitors. To top it off, we have a full class of eager Master Gardener Apprentices that will be a huge help for the GEMs, as many hands make light work and there is much to be learned in the varied gardens!

I hope you all take the time to visit the gardens, walk the paths, and talk to the gardeners working in them. Visit often, as they change from week to week, with different plants blooming from March through October in a rainbow of colors. We are currently looking for a GEM for the Culinary Herb Garden, and apprentice(s) to eventually become GEMs of the Lavender Garden and the Vineyard. If you are interested in becoming a GEM or helping to work in any of the Demonstration Gardens, please contact Marcie Katz at





The President’s Corner — What is a Master Gardener?

By Beet 2023 02 February

I am sure after reading the title of this article, that a word or idea comes directly to mind about what a Master Gardener is to you. To many, it refers to a knowledge of gardening, the how and why of being a successful gardener, forever learning. To others it invokes pouring over seed catalogs, looking for just the right seeds to raise that special heritage tomato or long-forgotten bean. Then there are those who look to improve their environment and the planet by planting natives in their home landscape to benefit the local wildlife and insects, and to support their food chain.

Or maybe it is just about joining a group of like-minded people, working side-by-side in the Demonstration Gardens, greenhouses or on special projects. We are a community. We come from different walks of life, different careers and sometimes different states or countries! Gardening is what brings us together, and whether we are novices or licensed pros, we enjoy each other’s company in doing what we love.

Gardening is something we can do our whole life. Whether a sunny windowsill full of house plants, a big yard, or a small patio, it is someplace to get our hands dirty and grow things. Gardens, like life, will wax and wane according to our responsibilities and constraints put upon us. When we are young and energetic, there are so many demands of running a home and career. As we age, we have the time, but physicality sometimes puts limits on us. We find ourselves in new roles as our needs and abilities change.

For many, taking the Master Gardener Program comes later in life; lucky are the ones who can be a part of it in their youth! For those of us that have some free time on our hands, however, there are other ways to be involved that don’t require heavy lifting or a strict schedule – you can be a Master Gardener Volunteer! Volunteering is the heart of our organization; it is what keeps the program going and serves the public by teaching the art and science of gardening for future generations.

In our Jackson County Master Gardener Association there are lots of ways to volunteer! Of course, not everyone wants to be the President or on the Board of Directors, but that is a great way to know what the organization is doing and have a say in its future.

If you don’t want anything quite that formal, join a Working Group that only meets once a month! There is a variety to choose from; find one that fits your interests or skills:

  • Gardens WG (Native Nursery, Practicum, Demonstration Gardens, grounds maintenance, garden enhancement)
  • Marketing and Technology WG (Garden Beet, Facebook, Mailchimps, YouTube, the JCMGA website, advertising, photography and videography)
  • Member Services (Directory, Member registration, condolences)
  • Community Outreach WG (Garden/School Grants, Scholarships, Speakers Bureau, Community Gardens, Diversity, Equality and Inclusion)
  • Fundraising WG (special events, incoming grants)
  • Practicum (mentors, Garden Buddies)

Last but not least, the Plant Clinic is where your help would be much appreciated. In addition to all that fun we aways need extra bodies for the once-a-year events such as Spring Garden Fair (yes, it’s back!), Fall Festival (new, coming this fall!) and Winter Dreams, Summer Gardens (held virtually, virtual host volunteers needed). Or, how about just coming out to help for a few hours at the Picnic, Graduation, or on Wednesdays, March through October in the Demonstration Gardens?

YOU, the JCMGA members, are the Master Gardener Body and your volunteerism is its life blood! Please come and donate some of your free time, be around people who share the same interests and have fun. It’s good for you and benefits the community. No matter your level of involvement – whether online in zoom meetings making decisions, on committees, or out on the grounds getting dirty – we need and appreciate all of you!


The President’s Corner

By Beet 2023 01 January

Welcome 2023!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season and that you all were able to spend quality time with family and friends, especially those that you may not have been able to see during these last several years.

It has been a very fun time of year, what with the Gingerbread Jubilee, Festival of Trees, and the Soroptimist Holiday Home Tour all back in person after the long COVID-19 hiatus (yes, I go to them all)! Yummy Christmas luncheons and Open Houses were again enjoyed, making this year’s season feel warm, cozy and most certainly helped to put one in the holiday Spirit. (The eggnog and wine may have had something to do with that, too!)

I am very enthusiastic for this new year as your elected President!

We have slowly been coming out from under the umbrella of COVID-19 restrictions, each year doing a little more while allowing us to feel useful, productive and accomplished.

This past year on campus, we installed a water catchment system and caged water tanks to allow us to remain sustainable during the drought. The Native Nursery was enlarged and joined with the Propagation Nursery. Practicum moved from the condemned COH (Creepy Old House) into new storage PODS. Master Gardeners had five plant sales, a High Tea Membership Drive, Yard Sale, Annual Picnic with Awards, catered the Graduation Dinner, had a Holiday Bazaar, and produced a very successful 4-day on-line Winter Dreams Summer Gardens Symposium!

We learned we can make money while working within a limited budget, albeit with fewer volunteers, and still take care of the needs of the Association!

It takes a village and Master Gardeners have risen to the task of helping where needed.  Members got our message out there by teaching through OLLI, Winter Dreams Summer Gardens, the Speakers Bureau, at Garden Clubs and on Jefferson Public Radio.

While we were able to hold our first hybrid Board Meeting and a Retreat, we are happy to be back again (somewhat) in person and will have hybrid meetings once a quarter in the new year!

We are starting out knowing that the 2023 Master Gardener Program will have a full-size class of more than 50 students, with Practicum returning and a new Coordinator! Meeting in Greenhouse 1 as a classroom, they will focus on growing vegetables and herbs for a Spring Plant Sale. We might even ask some venders to join us on campus for a slightly modified Spring Garden Fair. I’d like to see a collaboration between the other programs at the Extension – inviting them to join us in some events, have Garden Tours in our beautiful Demonstration Gardens and hopefully this fall, have a Harvest Fair with winter vegetable starts as well as items to sell made from our lavender harvest.

We have a terrific group as the new Board of Directors and I am looking forward to seeing what wonderful things we can do in the coming year. So, raise a glass (mine is always half full) in a toast to JCMGA 2023 and come join the party!


Our Unsung Hero —  Doug Kirby, Keeper of the Sacred Grounds

By Beet 2022 11 November

That title was bequeathed to him as an Award at the Annual JCMGA Picnic last August in recognition for all he does for the Demonstration Gardens and grounds. It was a small token of appreciation for someone who has such a huge sense of volunteerism.

Most people who come out to the Extension Gardens see Doug in his Perennial Garden, digging, or on his hands and knees hand-pulling weeds out of the pathway. If you stop to admire his beautiful garden, he will engage you in wonderful “garden talk,” telling you about the latest thing in bloom or how he is squirrel proofing his plants.

His amazing garden is accomplishment enough – he works out there almost daily – but Doug is also an integral part of JCMGA because he manages and maintains the grounds. Every place we plant requires irrigation and he is the behind-the-scenes person who monitors the well and repairs all the irrigation systems for all the gardens. He often takes on big projects that require physical hard work or refitting gardens with an improved system. In addition, he is the person responsible for all the compost and coir bins being full, as well as those with D/G and wood chips. All the gardeners depend on him; if you have a problem, he happily stops what he is doing and goes to check it out with you.

As if that isn’t enough, Doug’s future projects include completely emptying out the tool shed and re-organizing while putting tools back, replacing the irrigation controller, finish building a gate in the new wheelbarrow area and mounting shelves to the walls.

When there is an all hands workday, Doug is always there, no matter what the project, from sanding benches to blackberry removal, always willing to give to the group.

All of us should follow his example in volunteerism. One way to do that is to come down and help at the next workday when the wheelbarrow area will be completed. That will also help Doug out by making a locked storage area for supplies.

That is Doug Kirby, Jack-of-All-Trades, Gentleman Gardener, and all-around great guy who we are very lucky to know and call our friend!


The Picnic is Back with Master Gardener Awards!

By Beet 2022 09 September

After two long years, the annual Master Gardener August Picnic is back! Although our numbers were not what they were before COVID-19, we had a wonderful turn out of about 50 people. The auditorium was beautifully decorated with tablecloths, burlap runners and Mason jars of flowers by the Picnic Committee that included Sandy Hammond, Marcie Katz, Sandy Hansen, Lynn Kunstman, Colet Allen, Regula Pepi, Lucy Pylkki, Pam Hillers and Margaret Saydah. The menu was delicious BBQ burgers with all the fixins, and a wonderful variety of side dishes and desserts brought by the attendees. It was a joyful get together with old acquaintances and students from 2020 and the 2022 classes who finally got to meet and mingle with our newly graduated as well as experienced Master Gardeners.

Awards were the key focus of the event, with a BIG congratulations going to Jane Moyer (although she was not in attendance) who received the 2022 State Master Gardener of the Year Award, selected over nominees from all the MG Chapters in Oregon! Jane’s service and dedication to our organization for the last 17 years is impressive and her Practicum Curriculum has been copied and shared throughout the state. Jane is currently on the committee to select the new coordinator for the 2023 MG class and to plan next year’s Practicum.

Jackson County Master Gardeners awarded Lynn Kunstman as the 2022 Master Gardener of the Year for her hard work in keeping the Native Nursery functioning through the hard times and bringing in much needed revenue from plant “pop up” sales. Her passion for spreading the word about native plants emphasizes a key objective for Master Gardeners as we go forward into a time of insect apocalypse and climate change. You can hear her each week on Jefferson Public Radio as she answers listeners’ gardening questions. Lynn also taught a class on native plants at the recent OMGA Mini College and is always willing to answer questions about native plants. You can find her working diligently in the Native Nursery.

Sean Cawley (2020 class) was awarded the JCMGA Behind the Scenes Master Gardener for his enthusiastic and hard-working management of the Vegetable Garden (formerly the Children’s Garden) and the Orchards! He has single-handedly pruned all the apple, pear and peach trees in the big orchard as well as pruning the Fig Grove down to the ground last fall to give it a revitalization! Those interested in cover crops, companion planting and the various other experiments going on, should visit his garden. Sean also taught several outdoor classes to the 2022 students and helps with grounds maintenance in assisting Doug Kirby. Sean and Lynn were both instrumental in getting the new Water Containment System in and preparing us for the future.

The Award Nominations Committee also wanted to acknowledge several others who have contributed to the organization throughout the hard times we have experienced in the last few years and presented awards to the unsuspecting recipients.

Sandy Hammond is “Captain of Fortune” for her tireless delivery of Garden Guides from Ashland to Grants Pass, the sales of which have kept us in the black and for her work as Chair of the Fundraising WG!

Doug Kirby is “Keeper of the Sacred Grounds” for his dedication to maintaining the irrigation system, ordering soils and amendments, working on the weekend fixing the pump piping, and always being there to help on volunteer workdays, sanding benches, moving beds, cutting blackberries, etc., all while he keeps the beautiful Perennial Garden a delight to behold.

Last, but not least, is Ronnie Budge, who was awarded the title of “Herald” for her active role in Chairing the Community Outreach WG while living in Seattle! With the goal of Diversify, Integration and Equality she has led her group on a renewal of the Speakers Bureau, Community Garden projects and School Scholarships. Ronnie was also made a Lifetime Member of the JCMGA for her 11 years of service, which included years as mentor in the Practicum. As President, she led us through the year of COVID-19 in 2020; she kept us together while learning how to navigate and conduct board business meetings on (the dreaded) Zoom!

Congratulations to all the Award recipients!

To those who have been on the fence, please stay involved. We are making our way back to “normal” with many future events planned.

I hope to see you all at the Graduation in October. Come and meet the new Master Gardeners and let’s get ready for a fantastic 2023!

Call for Board Nominations for next year’s Board of Directors

By Beet 2022 08 August

 JCMGA Board needs YOU!

We are looking for new, and experienced members of Master Gardeners to serve on our JCMGA Board for 2023.  Could that be YOU, or someone you could recommend?

Please consider becoming a board member.  The Board is the governing body of the association.  It adopts the budget, sets policy, and generally oversees the present and future direction of JCMGA.  Meetings are held the second Friday of each month.  Most board members also sit on one or more of the association’s working groups and are among the first to volunteer when jobs need to be done! Your input is important, and fresh perspectives on how we move forward is the key to our success.


The following positions are to be elected this fall:  Vice-president/president-elect, membership secretary, OMGA representative, and five members-at-large.  Nominees must be members of JCMGA in good standing, and be willing to serve if elected. Let your voice be heard, help plan for the future of Jackson County Master Gardener Association!


If you have questions, contact Marcie Katz, Vice-President at

 Deadline for nominations is SEPTEMBER 1!         


Par-Tea in the Gardens

By Beet 2022 05 May


Spring is in the air, calling us into our gardens to enjoy the rebirth of the land! Just like at home, the Demonstration Gardens at the Extension are in bloom, and they long for visitors to view them and enjoy their beauty.

In the past two years, we have sheltered in place, obliged to wear masks, and stand six feet apart when in public. Through that process, we lost the connections that we previously had to people and places and the Jackson County Master Gardener Association has been especially hard hit. In those two years, we lost over half of our membership!

Well, we are inviting you back! Back to view the beautiful gardens, back to see, meet, and reconnect with other Master Gardeners, have tea, stroll, and see what changes have evolved on the Extension grounds. The Member Services Working Group, along with the Fundraising Working Group, Garden Enhancement Committee, and GEMS, would like to invite you, the Members and past Members of JCMGA to an afternoon “Par-Tea in the Gardens” taking place in the Arboretum on Saturday, June 18, from 1-4 pm. This is an “open house” event, so come and go when you please, tour the grounds, and then finish off with iced beverages, hot tea, and an assortment of tea sandwiches and desserts. Sit in the shade of the Arboretum to renew old friendships, make new ones, and catch up with what’s happening. So, come one and all, join in the fun and hopefully become involved again in our wonderful association!

Look for the JCMGA Mailchimp to arrive in your mailbox coming soon. A RSVP is encouraged!

For any inquiries, please contact Carol Bogedain at or Marcie Katz at