Delaware County
Master Gardener Association


Delaware County Master Gardeners are avid about horticulture and eager learners. This site is one way we share these passions and provide "environmentally sound, research-based gardening practices" with our communities.

DCMGA News and Events ...

Delaware County Master Gardener Association Annual Poinsettia and Holiday Flower Sale

We extended the DCMGA Annual Poinsettia and Holiday Flower Sale!

All plants must be ordered by

November 25th by 5:00 pm.

Click on the link below to view selection and pre-order or follow the QR code directions.

Master Gardeners Teach Hypertufa Workshop at SourcePoint

October 2022

On October 27, Vicky Zipfel taught a hands-on hypertufa planter workshop at SourcePoint in Delaware. There was lots of enthusiasm as folks - ready to get a little dusty! - donned their gloves and masks, and then got to work. After preparing the molds with cooking spray, equal parts of Portland cement, peat, and perlite was mixed with water and gently patted into the molds. Participants then tapped the molds on the countertop to remove air pockets, thereby increasing the cohesion of the mixture’s particles and strength of the planter. Decorative stones were available to add a dash of color. In all, 15 molds were completed and gently placed in individual plastic grocery bags to begin the curing process. No spills and minimal mess equals success! All participants left happy and looking forward to planting their creations next week.

Many thanks to Vicky for her hard work in preparing for and offering this creative and fun workshop for the seniors at SourcePoint. Thanks also to Cathy, Jackie, Nancy, Pam, Stephany and Trude who stepped up to help support the good work that our Delaware County Master Gardener volunteers do in the community.

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Master Gardeners Work with Students at BrightPath Children's Center

October 2022

Lizzy Burton, a teacher at BrightPath Children’s Center in Westerville, contacted the Delaware Master Gardeners for help with the addition of native plants to the center’s newly established nature area. Lizzy had applied to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for an education grant that funded the purchase of the native plants. Master Gardener Cynthia Buettner met with Lizzy in September to answer questions about the site, and then Cynthia and Nikki Sparks joined center staff, children, and their parents on a workday in October when the native plants and shrubs were installed. It was a lovely fall Saturday and the children were very happy to help with the digging. Lizzy, who is the nature teacher for the center, will use the plants in her outdoor nature sessions with the children.

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Shale Meadow Students Investigate with Delaware County Master Gardeners

October 2022

Karen Rissmeyer and Stephany Merrick spent the afternoon of October 19 with the budding third grade scientists in Mandy Robek's Shale Meadows classroom. All year they have been investigating how to welcome monarch butterflies to the Shale Meadows new monarch garden because the mascot of Shale Meadows is the monarch. Today these scientists spent time investigating and trying to prove what the brown "mystery substance" Miss Karen dug from the garden really is. Current hypotheses include soil, dirt, and clay; but more investigating will take place tomorrow.

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Delaware County Master Gardeners Partner with US Army Corp of Engineers at Delaware Dam

October 2022

Three Delaware County Master Gardeners, Nora Hiland, Susan Logan, and Susan DeVol, spent a lovely Saturday morning identifying trees, invasives, and poisonous plants on the trails at the Delaware Dam park. This effort was at the request of the US Army Corp of Engineers, located at the base of the Delaware Dam, as they will be providing signs so that hikers can learn more about what they are seeing as they trek through the woods.

A total of 16 trees, five non-native invasives, and our native poison ivy were identified for the future signs.

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Groovy Plants Ranch Tour and Planting Event

October 2022

Groovy Plants Ranch is a plant oasis full of botanical oddities for everyone to experience. Co-owners Jared and Liz Hughes created an amazing growth story from Jared propagating succulents in his spare time as a fulltime college student to the thriving garden center that Groovy Plants Ranch has now become. As the business grew, so did Jared’s collection of different and unusual plants from around the world.

Liz invited Delaware County Master Gardeners for a “peek behind the pots” to see the working areas of Groovy Plants Ranch and to browse among the too many to choose from pots and plants so that each of us could create our own planter masterpiece in the Ranch’s Potting Shed.

The colors, the cornucopia of plants, the joyous “groovy” touches everywhere were almost a sensory overload on the sun drenched day we visited. Mums, pumpkins, perennials and planters of every shape, size and color are what one expects at a garden center. But the groovy 60’s VW bus and small airplane, the hobbit house, and the hardy banana trees … wait, did I say outdoor banana trees in Ohio? … those were definitely not expected.

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Liz led us behind the “Danger Velociraptor” sign to the potting sheds and the rooting/warming tables to see where the magic begins. Here was the birthplace of Jared’s “Canary Wings” begonia, which won the Retailer's Choice Award at the Cultivate 2018 trade show. She led us through the rare plant greenhouse that is definitely a “no touch” zone, complete with security cameras and a $500 variegated Monstera or Swiss cheese plant. There was a houseplant house, succulent house, tropical house, perennial house, and more that I know I am missing.

There were bromeliads, cacti (Cereus forbesii spiralis for $100 anyone?), succulents galore, even a “bundle of sticks” plant – which truly looked like a dry bundle of sticks. So many plants, so little time. And to make it even more of a Sisyphean task, we had to choose a planter from shelves and rows and sheds of colorful containers.

Liz gave us helpful suggestions of which plants played well together and we gathered our treasures and completed our projects in the Potting Shed. It was a fun, educational hour or two on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Thank you Liz for inviting us into your whimsical oasis of groovy plants. We will definitely be back!

P.S. For those of us old enough to remember, in 2011 Jared was the DCMGA’s 1st scholarship recipient while he was working on his Bachelor of Science degree at the OSU. We are so very proud of all that you have done Jared and Liz!

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Delaware County Master Gardeners and OSUE Receive State Awards

October 2022

Delaware County Master Gardeners and OSUE once again received a Pandemic Perseverance State Award for our activities in 2021. This one was for our collaboration with Preservation Parks to identify and label wildflowers at their Hogback Ridge Preserve. Nora Hiland worked with Rich Niccum, Education Services Manager, and Liz Neroni at Preservation Parks on this project.

Wildflowers growing at the park were identified and our own Patti Sharpe created a sign for each wildflower that contained an illustration of the wildflower (painted by Patti) with its scientific and common names, a description, and a QR code. The QR code was linked to a page on our website that had detailed information on that wildflower. Hikers with smart phones could walk the trails in safety and learn about the spring ephemerals that abounded in the park in March and April. At least 110 people accessed the QR code information on our website. The wildflower information is still available on the website (in the Community Outreach menu, select Wildflower Trail).

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This project was so well received that Nora replicated it in 2022 at the Gallant Farm Park - but this time with the addition of master gardeners leading tours on specified days. The signs were always available, though, for those hikers who were out on their own.

In addition, the OSUE-Delaware Office received the state’s highest award, Platinum, for their diligence and dedication in ensuring the continuation of the Master Gardener program. This level is not easily attained and few counties received it for 2021, so we are vastly proud of their achievement. Thank you, Kenzie Johnston, Kathy Blevins, and Rob Leeds, for all your time and attention to us Master Gardeners!

And a special note of appreciation goes to Barbara Petrella who wrote the winning submssion for the Pandemic Perseverance Award!

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Nature Knows Best: Best Practices for Supporting Biodiversity

October 2022

On October 5, Terri Litchfield was the featured speaker at the monthly luncheon for the volunteers who work in the Heritage Garden at the Ohio Governor’s Residence in Bexley. Debra Knapke, Interim Garden Manager at the Heritage Garden, offered brief remarks about the importance of native plants before introducing Terri.

Terri shared her knowledge of native plant propagation which includes drying, stratification, scarification, and other necessary steps required for pretreating native seeds in preparation for planting. These steps serve to mimic the conditions of winter for dormant seeds which allows for successful germination in the spring. These requirements vary according to species.

She also shared information about the more traditional methods of seed starting practiced by the Delaware County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) Native Plant Propagation (NPP) Committee. The early years of the project had mixed results for success, as the process could be laborious, requiring knowledge about each species' requirements and implementation of numerous steps.

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Next she talked about winter sowing, a more reliable method of starting native seeds for herbaceous perennials, which the NPP Committee used last year with great success. They started seeds in one-gallon milk or juice jugs. In early January, the jugs are cleaned, prepared for planting, seeds are sown, and taped shut to preserve moisture and protect the seeds from predators and other disturbances. The jugs are then placed outside where nature provides the necessary cold temperatures and the gradual warmth and increased light in spring. This method reduces labor, expense of materials, the need for indoor space to grow seedlings, and also the need for grow lights and meticulous monitoring of moisture levels.

Terri emphasized the need to grow and sustain 'Keystone Plants' which are critical to support native species such as native bees and butterflies. Oak trees top the list for butterfly and moth caterpillars as an extremely beneficial keystone plant. Gardeners should work to provide a sort of 'soft landing' beneath the tree for insects in all of their various life stages to safely hide and develop. This allows more of them to overwinter and grow to maturity. Some examples are moths and butterflies, bumble bees, beetles, lacewings, and fireflies. Examples of soft landings include herbaceous plants, leaf litter and dormant or dead plant debris. Such soft landings are beneficial in all native plant scenarios. To support this effort, gardeners are encouraged to delay cleanup in these and other garden areas until spring.

For those interested in starting their own native plants, native plant seeds can be purchased online. Searching "Prairie Moon Nursery Cultural Guide" for the specific seed treatment required for various native species provides a wealth of information. With permission, native seeds can also be obtained from the wild, but Terri cautioned prudence and conservation by gathering a very small percentage of wild seed, being sure to leave a minimum of 90% of the seed in place to maintain wild populations in that area, which is already proven to be suited to the growth of that species.

Terri Litchfield is the Delaware County Master Gardener Association's native plant expert and the winner of the 2021 Ohio State Award for Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer. Since 2018, Terri has led the DCMGA's Native Plant Propagation Committee, mentoring volunteers on propagating native plants. The majority of the native plants grown by the group sell out at the annual plant sale, an important fundraiser for DCMGA.

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