Plant Nerd to Master Gardener — It is Finally Happening!
By Tara Roberts, Collin County Master Gardener, Class of 2021
I love gardening. I am 100% a plant and landscaping nerd. I know I am preaching to the choir here. I come by it honestly. My mother has always loved working outside, mowing, planting, and growing. My grandparents always had a magnificent garden when I was younger. That is all I remember my granddad ever doing. He had a least an acre dedicated to growing in East Texas and could grow almost anything. I remember rows and rows of corn where my sister and I would hide and play, crops as far as the eye could see, a fabulous melon patch, pecan trees, fig trees, and plum trees. He grew it all while my grandmother maintained the most beautiful rose garden. Our hands were never idle at our grandparents’ house. Yes, we could sit and watch TV, but not without a 5-gallon bucket between our knees as we shucked corn, snapped green beans or shelled pecans. Almost everything we ate was prepared fresh or canned from our grandparents’ garden.
After years of watching my mother and my grandparents garden, I, too, fell in love with it. Fast forward to my mid-20s when I became a first-time homeowner. I inherited the classic “builder grade” landscaping and proceeded to made all the mistakes that first-time homeowners make: wrong plants, wrong location, overwatering, planting what caught my eye with absolutely no research done ahead of time . . . the list goes on.
Over the years I became a regular at every landscape seminar I could fit into my schedule. The team at the Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension office knew my name, and I was pretty much a groupie. I also attended every seminar I could offered by local nurseries and the Collin County Master Gardeners. It was then that I first found out about the Master Gardener program. I wanted to be a Master Gardener so very much, but I worked full-time and taking the course was never a possibility. Year after year I would email the CCMGA and ask (okay, beg) them to please offer the course on a weekend. But year after year I was told that logistically it just was not feasible for the course to be offered on weekends.
Well in 2021 the stars finally aligned, and I was able to enroll in the course. I was positively giddy. It was finally happening! I was actually told by another gardening guru coworker that perhaps I was wasting my time with the training program because I already had years and years and hours and hours of landscaping seminars under my belt. But I was not deterred. I am so glad I was accepted into the program and that I never gave up on my desire to become a Master Gardener. Yes, I had hours of knowledge garnered from countless seminars over the years, but I am still amazed at how much I have already learned from this 12-week training program . . . not to mention all I will learn for years to come from my fellow Master Gardeners.
I will always encourage fellow gardeners like myself to do everything they can to become a Master Gardener and join this wonderful group of people. If you are like me and have wanted to grow your knowledge of gardening and landscaping, I hope you will one day become a Collin County Master Gardener, too. I can’t wait to apply all I have learned to make my little corner of Collin County even more beautiful.
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