This iris lily is just one of the many flowers that the Hamilton County Master Gardener Association grows. The organization also maintains display beds of plants, including the lilies, throughout the community so local residents and others can view the flowers whenever they want.
This iris lily is just one of the many flowers that the Hamilton County Master Gardener Association grows. The organization also maintains display beds of plants, including the lilies, throughout the community so local residents and others can view the flowers whenever they want.

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — To help serve their community, members of the Hamilton County Master Gardener Association are putting their green thumbs and knowledge of horticulture to good use.

Bill Rice, the local Purdue University Extension agriculture and natural resources educator, noted that the Master Gardener program is a community service project that focuses on gardening and horticulture.

In order to be a member of the Hamilton County association, individuals must complete the 15-week training course, pass a test over information covered in the session and complete at least 35 hours of approved volunteer service within the growing season. To maintain their membership, they must meet minimum volunteer requirements and continued education credits.

“People sign up for the class to increase their general knowledge of gardening and horticulture,” Rice said.

So many people are interested in the program each year that Rice has to limit the class size, he added.

Some of the topics that are covered in the gardening program include lawn care, soils and plant nutrition, woody ornamentals and home fruit production.

One of the master gardeners’ big community service projects, Rice noted, is the eight display gardens located around the Hamilton County Fairgrounds and Exhibition Center, along with seven others that are scattered throughout the county.

“There are signs so the public can see what is growing, whether it is perennials, native plants, vegetables or an annual bed,” he said.

The master gardeners will be adding a new display to the fairgrounds this year, which will be a rose garden.

Rice noted that within the county’s Master Gardener association, which consists of 330 members, there are more than 60 committees that are in charge of the display beds and other service projects.

He mentioned that the committee in charge of the new rose garden has decided that there will be a variety of different roses, along with heirloom varieties, and next to the garden will be educational information on the flowers, along with pamphlets that the public can take home.

Another huge activity for the group is its the annual plant sale, which is held in mid-May. The proceeds are used to fund the association’s activities.

Last year, the members, who grow most of the plants for the sale themselves, had more than 12,000 flowers, plants and vegetables for sale, and they were expecting the same amount for the one-day extravaganza this year, Rice said.