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
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
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
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,