Gardening and Life-long Learning – Hoosier Gardener


A few years after high school graduation, my friend Sherry read my palm. She was always a bit of a wild child from a large family that lived in a house with a solarium. Even then, I envied the sunroom.

Anyway, she said some line in my hand indicated I liked learning for learning’s sake. I may not have liked all of the subjects (math?), but I always liked school. I like learning stuff.

That was the best part about being a reporter. Learning stuff. Learning about something I knew nothing about until I researched the topic and tried to read various columns to get a sense of opinions. Sometimes I’d go background with a source or two, asking them to explain the issues to me, off-the-record. This shared knowledge helped me form the best questions for on-the-record sources to get the topic or issue explained to the reader.

Master Gardener Training

My quest for learning led to Master Gardener training in Marion County, Indiana, where I scored 67 on the pretest and 100 on the posttest. There’s still a lot about gardening I don’t know, but I’m proud that a lot of what I do know has been self-taught.

Self-taught from researching answers to many questions from you readers, other gardeners, plant geeks and those who just like pretty gardens. I also learned a lot about communicating about gardening while teaching Purdue Marion County’s City Gardener Program for six years with Extension Educator Steve Mayer, now retired. The classes were rich with different levels of interest, knowledge and experience. I loved the challenge.

Lots of Questions and Answers

With about 20 years working at Sullivan’s Garden Center at 71st Street and Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, I’ve also answered a lot of questions and puzzled out “what’s wrong with my plant” for customers.

Some questions are evergreen: Why isn’t my hydrangea blooming? Why are my peonies not blooming? Why does the salvia always splay? I still remember answering “yes” when someone asked if she should take the plant out of the plastic pot before planting.

My degree is a B.S. in Education, a program I started early in my 13-year program at IUPUI, mainly because I didn’t have to take math or a foreign language. I’d already had three years of Latin in high school and one year of college Spanish. Instead of math, I could take science, so I did: Heredity and Genetics, Physics for Liberal Arts majors, Physiology. I had biology and chemistry in high school.

Like-minded Folks

All of these subjects have served me well throughout my life and one of the best things about all this experience and knowledge is the opportunity to share it with like-minded folks.

Thus, the launch of The Hoosier Gardeners, a private group of members who virtually enjoy each other’s company, share their gardening experiences, learn from each other, meet garden book authors, plant and bug experts, while learning about trends in the activity we all love so much.



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