University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener volunteers can choose from a variety of volunteer opportunities.Some plan and care for demonstration gardens. Others present programs on a variety of horticultural topics or answer gardening questions from the public. For the past 15 years, Master Gardeners have visited St. Joseph's Home on Thursdays from Spring through Fall, talked with residents and their family visitors, and spend time with residents doing a garden-related activity. Many of the residents formerly had yards planted with flowers, fruits and vegetables, and share memories and experiences during the weekly meetings.
Activities include PowerPoint presentations, some have lots of plant materials to pass around and discuss, and some are "hands on" like repotting residents' plants that have overgrown their containers. Occasionally, local experts make guest appearances and share their knowledge on topics including orchids, day lilies, and birds. When the activity involves in-season fruits and vegetables, the program frequently includes a tasting or edible snack.
One activity that's popular year after year is flower arranging. In the companion pictures, you can see Master Gardeners Pam Catalani, Mary Kern, Frank Thornton, and Chris Schmitt preparing flowers for residents,one arrangement in progress, and some finished vases for residents to take to their rooms.
The Garden Club is a volunteer activity that brings the garden inside to share with folks who have limited opportunities to get out. While this Committee receives little attention, the Master Gardener volunteers find it a satisfying and worthwhile way to encourage interest in horticulture.
Article and photos contributed by Barbara Rogers, Master Gardener volunteer