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Spotlight on . . . Joyce Cleary, Collin County Master Gardener

By Dawn Oldfield, CCMGA Public Relations Chairperson

The queen of “Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers”, Joyce Cleary brings an infectious smile and creative energy to her container garden presentations. My Dad attended her class at The Garden Show one year and excitedly shared with me what he’d learned. He’s been putting those tips into his own containers ever since, with much success I might add, due to Joyce’s patient instruction.  

On her decision to become a CCMG, Joyce shares, “After I retired from the Dallas Symphony Association in 2005, I asked myself, 'Now what do I want to do when I grow up?'  Designing and working in my garden had been a great stress reliever after long hours of working and gave me a creative outlet that I really enjoyed. I had grown up with grandparents who farmed and remembered shelling peas and eating tomatoes straight from the garden; but the things I remembered most were my grandmothers' flower gardens, the petunias, the poppies, the Rose of Sharon, the iris, and the catalpa trees with their long 'beans' hanging down in the summer. So when I saw the notice for the MG class, I knew that was for me.”

Throughout the years Joyce has had several roles with CCMGA including Speakers Bureau Co-Chair and Speaker; CCMGA Secretary; Training Class and Garden Show Speaker; and part of the planning team for the very first Garden Show. She is Team Leader for the Container Booth at The Garden Show and works on Speaker Presentations on the Presentation Review Committee.

Joyce adds, “The best part of my job is the satisfaction I get from sharing information about flowers and plants and the fact that I'm always learning something new - through the research of new presentations or finding  answers to questions that I'm asked or the creativity of planning new container booth ideas with the committee.”

“What I love most about CCMGA are the Master Gardeners and the friendships that developed over the years.  Wherever you go, when you meet a Master Gardener, you have met a friend.  While on vacation in Big Bend, we met a Master Gardener from south Texas and there was an immediate connection of what are you growing, how are the bees and pollinators, have some honey, come and visit us. The state conference is like a big family reunion with gardeners from all over the state,” Joyce smiles

As for the future, Joyce says, “I see my role as supporting the education mission of CCMGA, to provide research-based information to the residents of Collin County and to encourage them to learn and teach their children about safe, effective, and sustainable horticultural practices and the joy of gardening. I really enjoy working with the public at the plant sales to help them choose plants that will work for them; talking with visitors who come through the Container Booth at The Garden Show, and talking about container gardening to new students in the training class.” 

Joyce encourages anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener to just do it! “There is a place for you and you will be welcomed.”

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