Catchin' On
20th Annual Father's Day Croquet

Friday Gardening . . . In a Different Garden

Several years ago (almost 10, actually), I became certified as a Master Gardener.  Here in Michigan,* to get that certification I took a semester long class through Michigan State Unversity Extension, suffered through weekly quizzes and a final exam, and performed 40 hours of volunteer service related to horiticulture.  (I was basically an indentured servant to the Master Gardener Giving Garden -- a very cool small working farm that grows - and then gives away - over 14,000 pound of fresh produce each year.)


To STAY certificed as a Michigan Master Gardener, I need to complete 6 hours of continuing education and 15 hours of volunteer service each year.

I have no problem AT ALL with the education hours part.  The entire reason I decided to become a Master Gardener  . . . was because I LOVE learning about gardening.  


When it comes to the volunteer hours, though.  Well.  Let's just say I'd rather spend time in my own garden!  I have just not found a Master Gardener project that I'm passionate about doing.  I do things to keep my certification up -- but I usually don't really like doing them.

This year, I decided to try something a little different.  I decided to "adopt" a garden bed in Bronson Park (the public park/"community square" in downtown Kalamazoo) as part of the larger Kalamazoo-in-Bloom project.

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In some ways, this is a perfect project for me!  My favorite parts of gardening (in that Zen, everyday-maintenance kind of way) are weeding and deadheading -- and that's just what's called for in adopting and caring for a park garden bed.

Plus - the location is very convenient for me, and the timing is completely open -- as long as I keep my bed looking neat all summer long.

And I figured . . . extra deadheading and weeding will give me more time for mindful thinking and relaxation! 

Volunteer hours + Convenience + Work I Like Doing + Mindful Relaxation = Win! Win! Win! Win!

So far, my experience is pretty much living up to expectations.

I'll have no problem getting my Master Gardener Volunteer Hours this year. (Win)

I was right about the convenience and the timing.  (I even got a "Bed Adopter" parking pass for the downtown meters, so Extra Bonus Points.) (Win)

I do like the work -- although the bed is one of the ugliest in the park.  (I am not allowed to design or plant; just weed and deadhead.)  (This kills me every time I see it.)  (Win . . . if I don't look too closely.)

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Mindful relaxation?  Not so much!  Turns out . . . there's a big difference between gardening behind my fence at home (which is very relaxing and peaceful and private) and gardening in a busy public park!  I now garden with OVERLY friendly squirrels (like . . . not even slightly afraid of me AND expecting food please), inquiring children, talkative walkers, and a whole crew of homeless men who live in the park during the summer and love to chat.

It takes some getting used to.

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But I'm committed!  (And see?  This is how they make sure you keep your garden bed looking good!)  (Talk about public accountability. . .)

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Here's another bonus:  Some of my new park-resident friends tell me jokes!  Here's one from earlier this week:
    Q:      What's the difference between in-laws and outlaws?
    A:      Outlaws are WANTED!

Enjoy your weekend!


* Each state has their own Master Gardener certification/re-certification requirements, just in case you're interested!