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Horticulture Hotline – How We Helped the Community

Champaign, Onarga, and Danville all closed their Master Gardener Horticulture Hotline October 31. Throughout the season Master Gardeners answered questions regarding trees, flowers, vegetables, woody ornamentals, insects, and so much more. To learn more about what questions we handle in the office, read my previous blog entry Top Three Troublesome T's.

In September, each office contacted previous visitors to the Horticulture Hotline to evaluate their experience. In Champaign, Master Gardeners accepted calls from over 600 homeowners and community members. Volunteers reached out to 10% of those visitors to gauge their experience. Visitors were asked various questions such as if they used the recommendations given by Master Gardeners, how they found out about the Horticulture Hotline, and how they will use the new gardening knowledge in the future.

Over 73% of the visitors used the recommendations given by Master Gardeners. Accepted recommendations include taking the sample to the University of Illinois Plant Clinic, treating scale with Sevin®, digging out infected plants in fall, pruned infected areas of shrubs/trees, and referenced the research given by Master Gardeners. Visitors expressed that in the future, after diagnosing their problem, they will be able to identify the problem(s) and treat them properly whether that includes removing the plant, pruning, leaving the problem alone, or seeking professional help.

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When asked how they felt about the call, 76% of visitors were very satisfied with their response. On top of that, over half of the callers (66%) shared their newfound information with family, friends, neighbors, and hired landscape companies.

Visitors were asked if they were able to save money as a result of using new gardening practices. One visitor exclaimed, "[I] spent a total of $0! Loved that! [It] would have cost money to call an arborist." Several others saved money by avoiding purchasing chemicals or realizing that the problem was easy to fix and did not have to hire a professional.

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Visitors discovered the Horticulture Hotline in a variety to ways:

  • Internet – 11%
  • Friends/Family – 29%
  • Newspaper – 23%

The Horticulture Hotline survey revealed the impact Master Gardeners have on the community. Master Gardeners are able to use their knowledge, resources, and joy of horticulture to complete the Master Gardener motto "helping others learn to grow." One visitor kindly stated that the Horticulture Hotline is very helpful and that she "really appreciates the work you people do."

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If you are interested in the Master Gardener program or know of the perfect applicant, apply today for 2015 Master Gardener training! Champaign, Danville, and Onarga will conduct trainings. Click here to apply. Anyone can become a Master Gardener! It does not require a degree in horticulture! Trainings costs $175 for in-person and $250 for online training. Want to learn more about the program? Contact your closest Horticulture Program Coordinator:

Champaign County – Me (Ava Heap)

Ford-Iroquois County – Trent Hawker

Vermilion County – Jenney Hanrahan