In the
Garden Patch



Resources for DCMGA Members:

Delaware County MGVs Judge 4-H Vegetables

September 2023

Gretta Kumpf and Susan DeVol spent a delightful Saturday morning at the Delaware County Fair's 4-H building with a large group of youths who spent the year planting and growing vegetables, fruits, nuts, and sunflowers.  Their ages ranged from six to 19  and their experience varied from first year gardeners to those who have grown more vegetables in their short lives than Susan has!  A third judge helped keep the youth moving  through the process.  

The youngsters were evaluated on the marketability of their produce, their presentation, the size and condition of the vegetables, and  whether they completed their program booklet and community projects.  Each vegetable was graded between an A and C (thankfully, no Cs were given) and special effort was awarded with an Outstanding ribbon.    

The three judges then reviewed the vegetables as a whole and selected the Best of Show In nine categories:  Best Vegetable Exhibit, Largest Pumpkin, Best Seed Picture, Best Decorated Pumpkin, Largest Sunflower Head, Tallest Sunflower, Best Garden Display, Best Fruit or Nut Exhibit, and Best Vegetable Exhibitor.  

The judges were exhausted at the conclusion and the  kids seemed to be exuberant.  So, it was judged that a great time was had by all!

(Note:  parents of children gave permission to have their photos displayed on our website)

September MGV Advanced Certification Program - Weeds Class 

September 2023

September saw us welcomed by  Stratford Ecological Center staff and volunteers again.   We began the day with an Informative presentation by JEnny Adkins, professional wetlands scientis with MAD Scientists.  Jenny's wetland botany primer led us through what defines a wetland; Introduced us to Google Earth Pro, through which you can access aerial photos (some as far back as the late 1980s); as well as the good and bad plants In wetlands.  

Next came Andrew Boose, aquatic ecologist with MetroParks, who helps care for 3,700+ acres of wetlands and 200 ponds and lakes.  Andrew provided Information on how to ensure your wetlands stay healthy and what can be done If they are ailing.  Of special Importance to some was his notes on how to discourage geese from your sit (don't mow to the edge of the pond/lake, put large rocks near the edge of water, get a dog, frighten them with machinery (just don't kill them!).  

The class took a short break to practice weed Identification using an online quiz developed by William Reiser.  Debra Identified the most weeds In the fastest amount of time! 

Dale Miller of Miller's Country Gardens discussed greenhouse pests (fungus gnats, shore flies, caterpillars, slugs and snails)  and how to prevent or eradicate them.  He stressed that your growing medium should be allowed to dry completely, even to the point of plant wilt, between watering to lessen possible Issues and to help prevent plant legginess.  He recommended a peat moss-based potting mix that Includes lime, vermiculite, and perlite.

Our final speaker was a repeat performance by Dr Tim McDermott, DVM, OSUE.  This month Tim discussed agricultural crop and pasture weeds.  A 2022 survey Identified the five most common crop weeds to be (in order of most to less): giant ragweed, waterhemp (Includes palmer amaranth, aka pigweed), marestail, grass/foxtail, and volunteer corn In soybean fields.    Tim  stressed not allowing a pasture to be overgrazed, as It leaves ample opportunity for weeds to grow, especially the highly toxic cressleaf groundsel, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and spotted knapweed.  

August MGV Advanced Certification Program - Weeds 

August 2023

This month, we again met at Stratford Ecological Center.  In the morning session, Tim McDermott from OSUE taught weed management in vegetable gardens and we were fortunate to have a beautiful day outside as he talked about the impact of weeds in pasture management.  He emphasized the important principles of IPM (Integrated Pest Management), which is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks. Cover crops, crop rotation, and the importance of reading labels (if utilizing chemical controls) were all key takeaways.

The afternoon topic was about climate change and the impact on weed management, taught by Dr. Aaron Wilson from OSUE and Debra Knapke.   Dr. Wilson, the State Climatologist of Ohio, presented several fascinating timelapse satellite images illustrating the interconnectedness of global weather systems. From an agricultural standpoint, increased temperatures can mean lower food productivity, reduced quality, and increased weed pressure.

Debra led us through discussions of changes observed in our own gardens, including the opportunity to grow more warm weather plants (crepe myrtle, etc.), weed pressure, and changes in insect emergence.  Debra shared the CSR Theory (competitors, stress-tolerators, and ruderals), a model for classifying plants within a framework of adaptability to various stresses and environments, which can prove useful in determining which plants - in our discussion, weeds - may perform well as environmental stresses change.

Many thanks to our presenters this month for sharing their knowledge and expertise on these important topics.

Delaware County Master Gardener Plant Sale 

July 2023

We held our 17th Annual DCMGA Plant Sale July 22-23 in the Sheep and Swine Barn at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and it was our most successful sale ever!

Thank you to everyone who attended. It was so fun to see repeat customers as well as meeting first-time buyers. The funds we raise are for education and beautification projects in our county.

We are so grateful to our donors including 1st Impressions Landscape & Garden Center, Ach Nursery, Champion Feed & Pet Supply, Dannaher Nursery, Groovy Plants Ranch, Hoover Gardens, HyR-Brix, Leaves for Wildlife, Lettuce Work Nursery, Millcreek Gardens, Miller’s County Gardens, Natives in Harmony, Oakland Nursery, Price Organics, Sambuca’s Greenhouse, Scioto Gardens Nursery, Strader’s Garden Center, and Thorsen’s Greenhouse.

We appreciate everyone who helped make our sale a tremendous success, including our Master Gardener Volunteers who worked tirelessly planting and tending to the native plants, and also donating a wonderful and wide selection of their own plants, shrubs, bulbs and trees.

We'll see you again next July!

July MGV Advanced Certification Program - Weeds 

July 2023

This month, we met at Highbanks Metro Park and our theme was Weeds in Woodlands and Public Lands.  We learned about invasive species, including Tree of Heaven, Japanese Honeysuckle, Japanese Barberry, Autumn Olive, Privet, Multiflora Rose, and Asiatic Bittersweet to name just a few. We went on two walks and our instructors helped us to identify many of these common species found in Ohio.

We learned that an invasive species is an introduced organism that negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have benefical aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitats and bioregions, causing ecological, environmental, and/or economic damage. Invasive species can be a plant, animal, pest, insect, disease, virus, fungus, etc. 

Many thanks to our presenters: Rebecah Troutman from the Holden Arboretum Forests and Gardens, Adam Komar from ODNR/Forestry and Carrie Jagger from OSUE.

DCMGA Therapeutic Garden Team host garden tour

July 2023

On July 8, volunteers from the Delaware County Master Gardener therapeutic gardening team hosted a small garden tour at Diane Harris' home for a few of the residents from Storypoint in Powell. 

It was a beautiful morning to stroll through her gardens touching, smelling and learning about her flowers and vegetables.  Our tour included a surprise visit from the darn rabbit who wreaked havoc while she was out of town. With many seating areas throughout her gardens, the residents were able to sit and watch the bees and birds feast on nectar while we enjoyed delicious treats of lemon lavender popsicles, pineapple cake, cucumber water and lemonade. 

The ladies ended their visit with a hand sugar scrub before heading home. But before leavin, they all agreed to come back in the fall. We've already heard that more want to come. 

Master Gardeners Present Weeds Grab and Go Kit at Olentangy River Fest

June 2023

Nancy Traub, Gretta Kumpf, Susan DeVol, and Jon Kerr presented their newly created Weeds Grab and Go Kit at the Olentangy River Fest In Delaware on Saturday, June 10.   Close to 200 people visited the display and the foursome answered many questions about weeds.  Children had fun using one of five matching games created by Gretta and Illustrated by Master Gardener Patti Sharpe.  Included in the visitors was Gretta's son, daughter-in-law and granddaughters, which was a treat for all.  The tri-fold board, sadly, became a bi-fold board when a sharp wind sent It toppling.   

Another Successful Advanced Master Gardener - Weeds Class

June 2023

Master Gardeners are always ready to learn more about the plants - even weeds!  This month was focused on weed botany and using a weed key to identify weeds.  

Nancy Reynolds used samples of weeds collected at Price Farms Organics, Delaware, to determine the various leaf margins, shapes, and arrangements.  She then had the class break into groups and use Weeds of the Northeast to name five different weeds.  Truth be told, some of us had some difficulties.  Who knew the difference between a lanceolate and a linear shape!  Stratford Ecological Center again hosted this event.

DCMGA Scholarship Committee

May 2023

Working with the Delaware County Foundation, the DCMGA Scholarship Committee completed another great award year. Competition was at a high level, attracting 23 applicants for our two $2,500 scholarships. The selection committee carefully evaluated the top applicants and awarded the scholarships to Shannon Barr and Hannah Plank.


Shannon Barr graduated from Olentangy Orange High school and is headed to Ohio Wesleyan University to study Botany and Pre-Medicine.


Hannah Plank, a graduate of Delaware Area Career Center (DACC), is headed to Bowling Green to study Nutrition Science and Dietetics.

The scholarships are for post-secondary programs in agriculture, botany, food science, horticulture, environmental science, or a relate field at an accredited college, university, or technical school in the United States. 


Many thanks to our DCMGA volunteers for all you do to benefit these talented and focused young people in their academic pursuits.

Containers Planted at Law Library

May 2023

Vicki von Sadovsky, 2023 Intern, and Susan DeVol spent a fun morning selecting, purchasing, and planting flowers In the pots at the Law Library.  They had to elbow others shoppers at the ever-busy Oakland Nursery who were intent on making purchases for Mother's Day.  Visitors at the Law Library will see a lovely display of Mrs Pollock geraniums, New Guinea Impatiens, and a variety of coleus. 

April 2023 Advanced Master Gardener - Weeds Class 

April 2023

Master Gardeners from around the state gathered at the Stratford Ecological Center In Delaware for the fourth AMG-Weeds class.  The day began with a presentation by David Listerman of the Ohio Invasive Plants Council (OIPC) on a variety of Invasive plants and replacement plants that have similar characteristics.  David was followed by Jennifer Windus, OIPC president, who continued the discussion on Invasives.  The afternoon was spent investigating weeds and invasives on the grounds of Stratford Ecological Center.  The walk was led by Stratford representatives Jeff Dickerson (aka Farmer Jeff), who was very capably aided by Buddy the dog, Heather Colyer, who shared her vast knowledge of which plants are edible and have healing properties, and Nora Hiland, who is also a volunteer at Stratford.

Shale Hollow Park Guided Wildflower Walks

April 2023

Delaware County Master Gardeners partnered with Preservation Parks again this year to celebrate Ohio Native Plant Month in April by creating a self-guided trail spotlighting the variety of spring ephemerals on display throughout the Shale Hollow Preservation Park natural play area. Master Gardeners also led two spring wildflower hikes that showcased the natural beauty of this gorgeous park.


Ohio’s spring weather was pleasant, cool and cloudy, but it didn’t rain or snow for our two walks so we considered that a huge win. In our wildflower meanderings, we discussed invasive species, concretions and the history of Shale Hollow Park. Saturday’s walk even included a sighting of two water snakes sunning themselves by the creek, easily viewed from the bridge.  


The new metal signs supplied by Preservation Parks are in place and have QR codes for scanning which link to our website ( to give detailed information about each posted wildflower. The wildflowers put on a nice show with spring beauties, trout lilies, cutleaf toothwort, dutchman’s breeches opening up the show and wild geranium, wild ginger, mayapple, violets and wild blue phlox all blooming for the following week’s guided walk. Beautiful Virginia bluebells put on a show for both walks.


We love sharing the stories and the beauty of these early harbingers of spring with our community and we look forward to continuing this wonderful partnership with Preservation Parks.  Our fellow ephemeral enthusiasts are delightful and we always learn something new.  Thank you to our MG Wildflower Leaders Donna Reynolds and Nora Hiland for welcoming and teaching all of us about these woodland gems.

Make a Mother Day's Gift at Sambuca's

April 2023

Sambuca's Country Market and Greenhouse and DCMGA will help customers select the right plants for a sweet planter for Mother's Day on May 3 from 6 to 8pm and on May 6 from 1 to 3pm.  

Tickets are $45 and are available at:

Sambuca's Country Market and Greenhouse, 577 Walnut St, Galena, OH 43021

Native Plants at Powell Women's Garden Club

April 2023

On April 24, the Powell Women’s Garden Club was pleased to have DCMGA volunteer Terri Litchfield present “Sustainable Beauty and Biodiversity: Gardening with Native Plants”. Terri brought her Native Plants Grab & Go display board as well as Ohio Magazine’s latest issue, which highlights the beautiful pollinator playground of native plants that Terri and her husband Randy have labored to create. (Congratulations Terri and Randy!)


Native plants are generally those plants considered to be present prior to European settlement. Armed with several native plant resources and slides showcasing some of her favorite spring ephemerals and later-blooming species, Terri guided us through the benefits of planting native. Highlights include:



Terri ended with slides showing the evolution of her landscape from a 1.3-acre plain turf yard to a pollinator playground. Terri and Randy planted over 200 native species of forbs, grasses, ferns, shrubs, and trees, and now - just 10 years later - they have a haven of native plants of which Doug Tallamy would be proud. Thank you, Terri, for graciously giving us a glimpse of your backyard paradise and for sharing important native plant information with us.

Shawnee Hills Blooms
April 2023

Shawnee Hills Blooms is an America in Bloom Community. The program encourages volunteer community leadership in coordination with municipal efforts, in an ongoing commitment to community vitality, beauty, environmental stewardship, and the celebration of heritage.  Delaware County Master Gardeners agreed to be part of the monthly educational programs that the Shawnee Hills Blooms organization provides to its members and to the general community of Shawnee Hills.  Nora Hiland presented programs on “Identifying and Removing Invasives” and “What to Plant after the Invasives have been Removed”, and Margo Hicks talked about organic lawn care in “Yard Care Alternatives."

April’s program was “My Back Yard Garden” – fresh ideas from designing and planting containers to fun gardening ideas to native plants and pollinators.   Master Gardeners Connie Emerson, Jeanne Engelking and Gayle O’Sullivan packed 90 minutes with a bounty of information and handouts.  Gayle’s colorful slides covered Windowsill Microgreens to Runner Bean Teepees, but it was the “Winter Seed Starting in Milk Jugs” idea that won the coveted “this idea covers the cost of the program!” award by the Blooms members.  Jeanne gave an overview of “What are Native Plants and Their Importance”, “What are Pollinators”, and “Ways to Get Native Plants and Pollinators into your Landscape”.   Connie got to have some real fun as she got down and dirty by planting a container and demonstrating the design principles of a cohesive planter. Looking for “instant gratification”, she combined fillers, thrillers and spillers in a beautiful arrangement that I wish had made its way to my car.

So many “Bloomers” came up to thank us and tell us how much they enjoyed this and the previous months’ presentations. We wish our Bloomers happy planting, continued cheerful camaraderie and beautiful blooms, and remember that your Master Gardener Volunteers are here if you have any question.

Third Month of AMG - Weeds

April 2023

Master Gardeners from six Ohio counties attended the third of 10 months of the Advanced Master Gardener Weeds Specialization class.  

This month the class learned more about pre- and post-emergent weed control from Dr David Gardner and Identifying grassy weeds with Dr Pamela Sherrat.  The afternoon Included a walk around the lawn and ball diamond at Brown Township Hall to Identify weeds up close and personal.  

Ohio Victory Garden Seeds Packets Available

April 2023

It's never too early to start thinking about your garden!  Several OSU Extension Offices, Including Delaware and Licking counties, have free Ohio Victory Garden seed packets to get you started.  These free seed packets contain carrot, cucumber, lettuce, and sunflower seeds.  Packets are available during normal business hours while supplies last.  

Thanks to Ohio Heirloom Seeds, Walnut Creek Seeds, and Holmes Seed Company for donating the seeds for this program.

Visit for more Information on the seed varieties and for tips on getting your seeds off to a good start. 

DCMGA Public Gardens Weed Free

April 2023

The Public Gardens Project completed weeding the Extension Office gardens on April 8, with the help of three of our newest class of Interns.  Pictured are Erin Reins and Sheena Metzger, in their cool sunglasses, and Eamon O'Brien, braving the sun light, who pitched In on this cool but sunny day.  

Twelve members and Interns have signed up to tend the three public gardens (Extension Office, Historic Courthouse, and Law Library) throughout the growing season.

DCMGA Garden Tours Kick-off

April 2023

The Garden Tour Committee met on April 4 for its Kick-off.  Three Garden Tour hosts were announced and recognized.  They include Nancy Freeland, Terri Litchfield and Charlotte Niceswanger.  Garden teams met with each garden host to discuss plans and garden preparation.  

The first Garden Tour will take place June 25 at Nancy Freeland’s from 2-4 pm.   

A Save the Date card will be provided at our upcoming DCMGA meeting on April 11 for all members attending.

Note:  Garden Tours In 2023 are only available to DCMGA members and Interns; we hope to open this to Delaware County residents In 2024. 

Public Gardens Kick-off

March 2023

Eight MGVs and one intrepid Intern turned out on Saturday, March 25, to learn how and then prune shrubs at the Extension and Law Library Gardens (the Historic Courthouse Is still on the agenda).  The weather cooperated with cool temps, just a small amount of precipitation, and manageable winds.   

The morning began with a presentation by Nora Hiland and Susan DeVol on why, when, and how to prune shrubs.  After eating lots of cookies and drinking hot cocoa and coffee, we went to the gardens for a demonstration by Nora and Instructions on how to prune each shrub.  Then the work began!    We still have more work to do (lots more of those early-rising weeds to pull) and the volunteers for the Public Gardens Project will be hard at work this spring and summer.   

The slideshow (Shrub Pruning 101) Is available In the Member's Only section of In the Garden Patch.

Hydrangea Presentation at the Powell Garden Club

March 2023

“Introduction to Hydrangeas” was the second class our Master Gardeners presented to the Powell Garden Club. Vicky Zipfel was contacted by the Garden Club early this winter to see if Delaware County Master Gardeners would be willing to give an hour gardening presentation every fourth Thursday of the month.  How could we pass up an invitation to spread the good news of gardening? Last month’s topic was birds and feeders to attract our wintery feathered friends. March’s topic was an Introduction to Hydrangeas.  Old wood, new wood, blue or pink, sun or shade, pruning, hydrangea trees, best choices for Ohio, where to find them … so much to learn, so little time.

Fourteen garden club members listened intently as Vicky walked them through the basics of hydrangeas.  Yes, some hydrangea cultivars can take more sun than others, though most are typical woodland plants that prefer a cool morning sun and afternoon shade. Nora offered tips on soil: what is loam; pH determines bloom color – blue for acidic, pink for alkaline; peat has acidic properties when added to the soil; and did you know that the soil west of the Olentangy River is alkaline, but the soil east of the river is acidic? Gayle had dried panicles from Limelight and PG (panicle grandiflora) hydrangea “trees”, which are not trees at all but highly pruned hydrangea shrubs. And of course, she talked about deer (always) and hydrangea as deer candy.

Nora demonstrated pruning techniques on hydrangea branches that Vicky brought in.  (Someday, ask her to demonstrate opposite and alternate leaves.) We even had one intrepid volunteer from the garden club try her hand at pruning under Nora’s tutelage. The club had so many questions and stories and observations to share with us. One member told the disturbing story of the climbing hydrangea that “ate” her garage!

Thank you Vicky for creating this fun, educational hydrangea class for the Powell Garden Club.  So many members came up to thank us and tell us how much they enjoyed this and last month’s presentations.  And thanks also to our MG Helpers and presenters – Nora, Gayle, Stephany and Nancy who all support the good works that Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers do.

DCMGA Banquet

March 2023

Tuesday, March 14, saw 83 MGVs, Interns, and spouses in attendance at the DCMGA Banquet at the Scioto Reserve Country Club In Powell.  Talk filled the room as friends greeted one another and we took the opportunity to meet many of our Interns.  During this time, a slideshow of a number of events In 2022 ran on two large screens.

Advanced Master Gardener Weeds Specialization Kick-off

February 2023

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association hosted the first Advanced Master Gardener Weeds Specialization (AMG-Weeds) class on February 9.  There are 30 registrants from six counties.  

Nancy Reynolds, Chair, welcomed attendees and opened the event with program details.  John Cardina, professor of Agronomy at The Ohio State University, presented An Overview of Weeds that included information found In his book Lives of Weeds.   Each participant received a copy of the book.  Dr Cardina was actually a speaker at the very first AMG-Weeds sponsored by OSUE-Wooster twenty years ago!  We were very pleased when he agreed to travel from his home In Pennsylvania to be part of this kick-off!  

To conclude our first day, we had Debra Knapke, well-known Ohio author and authority on all things horticultural.  Deb spoke on the Botany of Weeds and clearly explained a complex subject.  Deb also participated in and helped organize the AMG-Herbs specialization that DCMGA hosted last year.

Our next class will be March 9 and speakers will include focus on herbicides, organic pesticides, and organic weed control.

The AMG-Weeds program will run through November 2023.  Master Gardeners who haven’t enrolled in the program may opt to attend an individual class or a group of four classes (either April through July or May through August).  For more Information, please contact  

Shawnee Hills Blooms

February 2023

The Village of Shawnee Hills has joined America Blooms and its Growing Vibrant Communities Program. They have had regular meetings since  the fall of 2022. Recently, they elected a Board of Directors and began work on 501(C)3 status as a non-profit organization.  

Projects include updating the town’s Veteran’s Memorial Garden and turning vacant lots into green space. Plans include applying for a number of grants once tax status is fianlized.

Educational meetings are held in the Shawnee Hills Municipal Building on Dublin Road on the second Thursday of the month.   Nora Hilliand began the series in the fall with a talk on invasive non-native plants followed by a presentation on what to plant In place of the removed Invasives.  Margo Hicks spoke at the February meeting on Organic Lawn Care and Lawn Alternatives. Future speakers include a naturalist to talk about Pollination and Pollinators In March and three of our Master Gardener Volunteers on back yard gardening in April.

DCMGA Offers Two Scholarships for Delaware County Residents

January 2023

The Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers announce two $2,500 scholarships for Delaware County residents pursuing post-secondary education in agriculture, botany, food science, horticulture, environmental science, or a related field at an accredited college, university, or technical school in the United States. 

Applications must be submitted by February 28, 2023

Complete eligibility requirements, and additional information can be found at:

Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District Annual Tree Sale

January 2023

The Delaware SWCD is holding its annual tree sale.  Tree quantities are limited; orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Orders can be picked up between April 11 through the 13, 2023, at the Delaware SWCD, 557 Sunbury Rd, Suite A, Delaware, OH.  

Order form can be found at:

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

- tap to display more -

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!

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).

- tap to display more -

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!

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 introductory 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. 

-tap to display more-

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.

Dividing Houseplants Workshop

September 2022

On September 29, Delaware County Master Gardeners held an interactive workshop on dividing houseplants at SourcePoint in Delaware.  Nora Hiland led the hands-on activity where participants learned how to separate and repot their plants for their continued enjoyment at home.

Class began with removing the plants from their pots.  The group then cleaned the pots and washed the plants, making sure to remove all of the soil.  Soil mix was discussed as well as how to prepare the soil for planting.  Watering and fertilizing instructions were given before our happy indoor gardeners headed home with their newly invigorated plants.

Autumn Arborfest 2022

September 2022

This is the fourth year DCMGA has participated in the Autumn Arborfest held at Alum Creek Park North in Westerville. This was the best year so far,  thanks to the City of Westerville bringing in more organizations and nurseries for the event.  Susan Alexander, Susan DeVol and Susan Logan were available to answer really interesting questions from the public. Susan Schmidt dropped by for a visit too! Do you sense a Susan theme? 

The Trees Grab and Go Box Committee developed the display, which was well received and generated lots of questions from attendees.  Children were engaged with leaf rubbings and the "Whack a Walnut" game.  What’s that, you ask?  Well, a walnut or hickory nut is placed in a shallow divot on a thick plank and kids hit the nut with a hammer.   Not exactly educational, but it sure was fun!

It was a fun day dedicated to all things trees. Remember, if you have any tree or garden related questions,  submit them here. We're always happy to help!

DCMGA Hosts Booth at Delaware County Fair

September 2022

The Delaware County Fair had another great year! Once again, our Delaware County Master Gardeners hosted a booth in the Merchant building with over 1000 adults and hundreds of children visiting throughout the week.  

Visitors learned about ways to attract and provide habitats for pollinators, including the use of plants native to Ohio.  Master Gardeners also answered questions about lawn care, vegetable gardening, creating meadow gardens, and other topics.  Those who stopped by the booth were given vegetable seeds for next year's produce and children received labels for their insulated water mugs or tablets.    

Kenny Cummins Wins 2nd place for Best Home Landscaping!

September 2022

Delaware County Master Gardener Kenny Cummins won 2nd place for Best Home Landscaping in the 2022 Columbus Dispatch Backyard Garden Awards. Her garden was one of over 300 entries. Kenny's garden is named "Shaded Serenity." In her entry description, Kenny reflects:

Creating a garden in full shade in our back woods has been quite a challenge and has taken several years.  For color and texture I used various hostas, ferns, astilbe, brunnera, bleeding heart, coral bell and several ground covers. For additional color I added impatiens to the log, the heart shaped stone bed and the inverted tree trunk along with a few coleus and caladiums.

Kenny Cummins' garden, "Shaded Serenity"

Exotic Invasive Plants Workshop

Gayle O’Sullivan August 2022

Dig it up, throw it out!  That was the not so subtle theme of Nora Hiland’s open to the public Exotic Invasive Plants presentation at the Powell Parks and Recreation facility. Some of us sat quiet and guilty in our seats as the integrity of our landscaping was ruthlessly attacked.  Yes, I do have a burning bush and I may have one or two barberry, luckily the wintercreeper died on its own. In my defense, they were planted long before my Master Gardening days. I heard others mumbling about the miscanthus or Callery Pears gracing their yards. In this case, some of the choir definitely needed a little preaching.

We learned where these pesky invasive plants came from, some intentionally, others as hitchhikers.  Some started with good intentions like the original sterile Callery Pear that then ran amuck as cross pollination created super power fertile trees. Nora told us about the clogged waterways, deformed tadpoles, elimination of native plant food sources for our wildlife, and so many more devastating environmental consequences of these exotic invasive plants.

Some of the most heinous of Ohio’s invasive species were passed around the classroom - Tree of Heaven, Callery pear, Honeysuckle, Barberry (green and red leaf), Privet, Wintercreeper and Chinese Silver Grass. The better for us to be able to identify these thugs of our woodlands, meadows and forests.

Nora ended the workshop with a walk outside along a short treed hillside.  Canadian Thistle (which is not from Canada), honeysuckle, miscanthus, and the ever present Callery pear – all present and accounted for.  Dig it up, tear it out!

Thank you Nora for such an entertaining and informative workshop.  And thank you Gina Kolp for inviting Delaware County Master Gardeners to Powell Parks and Recreation to spread the word to try to stop the spread of these dangerous invaders to our Ohio landscape.        

Shale Meadows Elementary School Summer Workshop and Garden

Gayle O’Sullivan Summer 2022

Students have been running through sprinklers this summer while Master Gardener Karen Rissmeyer has been busy at Olentangy’s Shale Meadows’ Monarch garden.  Appropriately, the monarch is the mascot of Shale Meadows.  Karen has been digging milkweed out of her yard, her friends’ yards, even roadside ditches under construction (with the help of Jennie Arbona, third grade SMES teacher) to transplant this monarch caterpillar food source into the school’s namesake garden. 

In true “Give a Mouse a Cookie” fashion, this all began with a January visit where Karen taught third graders to sow milkweed into milk jugs as a winter seed sowing project. The milk jug seedlings were joined by black-eyed susans, anise hyssop, zinnias and stiff goldenrod. Soon they all grew into beautiful blooms, along with a healthy crop of oxalis/wood sorrel, honeyvine milkweed, crab grass and flower of an hour weed.

Marshalling the troops, Karen asked principal Greta Gnagy to send out a Shale Meadows all-parent alert and 12 families signed up to tend the garden over the summer months. Karen held a “This is a weed, this is not a weed, this is how to physically remove it” family workshop for all the volunteers, where they also learned a little bit about monarchs and the plants in the garden.

The Monarch garden is an ever changing learning adventure and will be incorporated into Shale Meadows’ school curriculum.  Thank you Karen for sharing your love of gardening and monarchs. By gifting this unique outdoor learning space to your little buddies, you have given them the gift to personally observe and experience the wonder of nature and of all of its cycles.

Gardening for Specialist Bees and Other Pollinators

Terri Litchfield June 2022

Nora Hiland and Terri Litchfield presented a program on June 18 to an audience at Stratford Ecological Center as part of a day of activities in anticipation of National Pollinator Week, June 20-26. They were asked to focus on gardening for specialist bees with content suitable for a range of gardeners, from beginner to experienced. 

Specialist bees, most of which are native bees and don’t include honeybees which are a non-native species, usually rely on one or two plant genera when collecting pollen for provisioning their nests. If these plants aren’t in the landscape, these specialist bees will not find a home there. Gardening for specialist bees helps bring diversity to the landscape and provides resources needed to sustain populations of these native bees.

The presentation included examples of fifteen native plants upon which certain species of native bees are dependent. Spring-, summer-, and fall-blooming plants were included to demonstrate that different bee species require these pollen resources at different times through the gardening season. 

Want to learn more? The basis for the presentation was the Guide to Ohio Specialist Bees. This resource page was provided to participants as well.

Delaware Master Gardeners Celebrate 2021 Accomplishments at Banquet

Master Gardener Plant Swap

Gayle O’Sullivan
May 2022

Could we have gotten a more beautiful May evening to mingle, talk shop and swap out unloved plants for plants that we hope to love?  Our annual (we hope!) Master Gardener Plant Swap was blessed with sunny skies and warm breezes. Cars lined up in the Stratford parking lot with trunks popped open overflowing with plants of all stripes.  Shasta daisies, hosta, canna and iris tubers, a plethora of native plants and even an arborvitae or two – it was a treasure hunt for plant lovers, and it was free!

A HUGE thank you to Nikki Sparks and Jan Irwin for planning such a wonderful evening for us all.  Even those who didn’t take home any new treasures got to enjoy the simple pleasure of being together, reconnecting and making new gardening friends.

Guided Wildflower Walk at Gallant Woods Park

Charlotte Niceswanger
May 2022

Sunday, May 1st was a beautiful day for a guided Wild Flower Walk through Gallant Woods Park with Master Gardeners Susan DeVol and Charlotte Niceswanger.

Introductions were exchanged at the Acorn Loop Pavilion. Armed with our cell phones and prepared to scan the QR codes on the Wildflower Signs, we set off on the Acorn Trail. There were a few surprises along the way. The group identified an emerald ash borer who traveled along the path with us, discovered a few morel mushrooms and learned about 10 different wildflowers including wild violets, phlox and May apples.

What should have been one loop on the Acorn Trail turned in to two loops because our group was so engaged that we lost track of where we were!

We were so fortunate to meet a Girl Scout Troop leader and her daughter who shared with us their plans to build a pollinator garden this summer on a plot of land approved by their neighborhood association in Lewis Center. Needless to say we had an attentive audience grateful to learn about all of the resources available through the Delaware County Master Gardener Association. We parted ways excited and encouraged by everyone’s interest and with a few more steps than originally planned.

OWU Arboretum Tree Trek Guided Walk for MGs   

Gayle O’Sullivan
April 2022

What a gorgeous Saturday morning we spent on the beautiful Ohio Wesleyan University Campus with three very special Student Environmental Ambassadors. Delaware County Master Gardeners arranged for a private tour of OWU’s Jane Decker Arboretum, a living laboratory for learning about plant identification and diversity, arboriculture, landscape design, and ecology. With over 105 species of trees and woody plants from temperate regions around the world, the Arboretum is a hidden treasure on campus.

The Ginkgos, Fall Witch Hazels, Horse Chestnuts, Dogwoods, Sweetbay Magnolias, Maples, Oaks and Hickories were magnificent, but it was our student tour guides that were the true treasures.  Carly, Isa and SK – you were so warm and welcoming, we felt like we were visiting family.  You were kind enough to give us a tour of your greenhouses and herbarium and answer all our random questions about your research and campus life. Carly, I was amazed to hear about your “CRISPR” gene editing experiments – exciting frontiers!  And good luck to you, Isa, as your studies take you to LSU.  

A special thank you to Barb Wiehe, Jane Decker Arboretum Director, for arranging our delightful tour. And on the weekend before Finals week, Thank You SK, Carly and Isa for spending the morning with us and sharing the natural beauty of your campus.

April 9th Seminar, Maximizing Ecological Diversity in your Ohio Garden and Beyond 

Gayle O’Sullivan and Charlotte Niceswanger
April 2022

Naturalist Julie Zickefoose and botanist Jim McCormac presented a visually stunning program for Delaware County Master Gardener’s sell-out audience on April 9th at The Barn in Waldo.  Snow may have been threatening, but we all enjoyed the sunshine and stories that Julie and Jim brought.

Through artistry, photography and videos, we were able to follow Julie's transformation in her meadows and gardens near Marietta, Ohio. We took a trip through Ohio's Flora and Fauna with Jim McCormac, visiting his favorite spots for birding: Magee Marsh, Maumee Bay, Lake Kelso, Hocking Hills, Huffman Prairie, Shawnee State Forest and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park. We ended the day with Julie's story “Saving Jemima: Life and Love with a Hard-Luck Jay” which was an emotional journey of finding grace and redemption and bonding with a wild bird. Her words of wisdom for living with a wild creature are true for all of us, “Listen, it tells you what you need to know if you just listen”. 

A special THANK YOU to Laura Rosenheck, Craig Shuneson, Connie Emerson, Jim Cline, Sandy Schaadt and Charlotte Niceswanger for planning, organizing, promoting and implementing this complex, major presentation over months of hard work and covid uncertainty. You pulled together a multitude of moving pieces, all while smiling. What a great day you gave our attendees!  I talked to many of our audience members (young to old) and all were smiling on their way out.  

Registration ran seamlessly and everyone was greeted with a smiling Steve, Dottie, Jon and Jim. Connie and her crew (Nancy and Regina) decorated our space beautifully, “whimsical” is how Julie Z described the centerpieces, and Connie also went above and beyond to welcome our speakers and make them feel so valued. Craig and Laura reacted quickly to fix any “glitches” (screen, audio equipment) that popped up. Sue and Regina kept an eye on the audience and helped with handouts, welcomes and information and everyone helped with cleanup.

It was the perfect day to be captivated, transformed and inspired to do what we can to attract and preserve these wonderful birds in our own backyards. Thank you Julie and Jim for introducing us to your feathered friends.

Ohio Wesleyan University Early Childhood Center

Gayle O’Sullivan
April 2022 

Preschoolers, parents, grandparents, teachers, and Ohio Wesleyan University (OWU) students led by OWU Junior Myles Steed, braved a cold, windy and damp April day to plant a veggie garden in newly built raised beds that were installed at the Ohio Wesleyan University Early Childhood Center. The garden was the idea of Myles, a pre-med major who volunteers at the Center ( The materials for the garden were donated by parents and community members. The children planted a variety of seeds and several dozen earthworms with enthusiasm and great abandon.  Center Director, Kellie Hall, is organizing the families to care for and harvest the produce throughout the school’s summer break. Master Gardener Intern, Cynthia Buettner, is serving as support and consultant for the project.

Visit In the Garden Patch for archive of DCMGA news...

Fun Gardening Activities at SourcePoint and Powell Parks & Rec

Gayle O’Sullivan and Nora Hiland
March 2022   

Gardening 101, with a heavy emphasis on “fun gardening activities” was our topic at three free-to-the-public classes this March.  Gayle and Nora (Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers) journeyed to Powell Parks and Recreation’s Adventure Park while snowflakes scattered, then to Delaware’s senior center SourcePoint between heavy rainstorms. Will Spring never arrive?

Judging by the questions, the smiles, and the hugs we received after our presentation, our audience enjoyed the class as much as we did.  Irreverent – yes; packed with basic information – yes; lively, beautiful slides – check; take home activity – yup!  

Our listeners learned about Cutting Flowers and how to make them last, Milk Jug Greenhouses (with a Zone 6 Winter Seed Sowing Guide), Teepee Shelters of Scarlet Runner Beans, Sensory Gardens, Laundry Basket Potatoes (a very popular idea with our audience), Seed Tapes and Windowsill Microgreens.  We ran out of time for Pizza Gardens, but participants took home a “Container Vegetable Varieties” sheet to help them plan “Pizza in a Pot”.  

We all made vegetable seed tapes and the brave tasted microgreen arugula, sage, basil or a mix of kale, cabbage, mustard and kohlrabi.  Demonstrations for Teepees, Potato Baskets, Greenhouse Milk Jugs, Seed Tapes and Windowsill microgreens kept the class on its toes. (Thank you Nora!)

Luckily, Nora and I could answer our more obscure audience “Stump the Master Gardener” questions:

Our participants’ surveys were filled with wonderful ideas for future DCMGA programs and “feel good” comments:

“Your presentation was wonderful and full of useful information”; “Excellent presentation”; “Very nice open friendly environment, fun educational program”; “Presenters did a great job. I am going to try the milk jugs”; “Fantastic session!”

Thank you to Gina Kolp of Powell Parks and Recreation and Joan Pearse of SourcePoint Senior Center for allowing us to spread our basic “good news, fun gardening ideas”.  Now let’s get out in the garden and try them out!

-Gayle O’Sullivan

Sustainable Beauty: Gardening for Biodiversity

DCMGA Members Present at Cedar Bog Nature Preserve

Gayle O’Sullivan (3.12.2022)

A group of twenty or so individuals braved a very cold, wintery morning to hear Terri and Randy Litchfield speak about the importance of native plants in supporting biodiversity in home gardens. The setting was Cedar Bog Nature Preserve (website | Facebook), the first nature preserve in Ohio purchased with state money and considered by many to be Ohio’s premier natural area. This state nature preserve boasts the greatest plant diversity of any place in the state, harboring an amazing 40 percent of the rare and endangered plant species in Ohio.

The presentation highlighted a number of spring ephemerals which will be blooming next month, later blooming native plants, an example of a backyard conversion to mostly natives, and a brief photo-documentary of the insect life found in the garden after this conversion. The audience was engaged and several were inspired to make changes in their home landscapes. Using cardboard to smother lawn was familiar to one participant and the description of how this was accomplished encouraged him to follow through with this in his landscape. Another participant expressed appreciation for the spreadsheet of plants with growing conditions, flower color, height, spread, sun, and soil information as she is planning to do a major project in her yard but was having trouble getting started with the planning. This session was the first in their monthly series and the preserve manager was quite pleased with the interest shown in the presentation. 

Weed Identification Class at Stratford Ecological Center

Nancy Reynolds (2.8.2022)

Twenty nine enthusiastic Stratford volunteers participated in a spring weed identification class on Tuesday, March 8th.  After a basic overview of growth habits, botany and my usual nightmare-producing speech on Giant Hogweed, the group proceeded to use the weed key from Weeds of the Northeast. Together, we keyed a dandelion and purple deadnettle.  Then, the group broke into teams of 2 and identified white clover, hairy bittercress, ground ivy and wild violet.  As usual, the group had a hard time deciphering the difference between basal rosettes and whirled leaf arrangements.  In the end, our weed samples were pulled to pieces, our hands were dirty and everyone agreed a little more practice was required!  A special thanks to Cynthia Buettner for her assistance all afternoon.

Whirled leaves

Basal rosette of leaves

Winter Seed Sowing at Stratford Ecological Center

Gayle O’Sullivan (2.12.2022)

What a great start to a dreary February weekend!  Regina and Barb enlightened and entertained a Sold-Out crowd of community gardeners hoping to get a head start on their spring planting of native plants and vegetables.  Thirty-seven hopeful gardeners (only nine of them Master Gardeners) drove up the winding road to Stratford Ecological Center, dreaming of blooming native plants and tasty tomatoes.  What they received was so much more.

Yes, everyone took home a beet seed tape, and two mini milk jug greenhouses, one planted with cabbage seeds, another with purple coneflower.  But it was the information and the “true plant” stories that Regina and Barb shared that were the true treasures of the morning.  Stratification, germination, what is a native plant and where can I purchase them, how to divide milk jug plants, which vegetables are best for milk jug sowing, what soil (not dirt) do I use … all these and more were presented. 

What we learned through the seed tape and milk jug sowing successes and failures of Regina and Barb were even more important:

Label, label, label – for you will forget what you have sown.

The class was filled with laughter and excitement.  100% of participants enthusiastically gave Regina and Barb a “Do this Again!” rating and the surveys were filled with a very common theme:

“Loved it; Fun; Learned a Lot, Really Enjoyed it; Awesome Presenters; Educational; Fun; Outstanding Presenters; Fun Project; Easy to do at Home; Lots of Fun …”     I think we all get the message!

Thank you to Regina Lach and Barb Butt – our awesome speakers. And a big thank you to all the support team:  Nancy Freeland, Nora Hiland, Terri Litchfield, Randy Litchfield, Mary Sandberg, and Nancy Traub.

Shale Meadows Elementary School

Milkweed Milk Jugs and Monarchs
Karen Rissmeyer, Cynthia Buettner, Stephany Merick
January 5, 2022   

Karen Rissmeyer (Master Gardener class of 2021!) has initiated an exciting learning project at Shale Meadows Elementary School.  Karen, a newly retired educator from Olentangy Local School District, reached out to principal Greta Gnagy and teacher Mandy Robek of the Shale Meadow Monarchs to offer Master Gardener help to create a Monarch school garden and to teach students about the life cycle and food source for the Monarch butterfly.

After two years of schools restricting outside access to their students for health concerns, Master Gardeners were finally invited back into the classroom to share the science and fun of gardening – woohoo!

On Wednesday, January 5, three intrepid Master Gardeners (Karen and MG intern helpers Cynthia Buettner and Stephany Merick) arrived at Shale Meadows Elementary school armed with milk jugs, milkweed seed, a handy dandy drill, duct tape and soil.  Their mission – to educate five third grade classes about monarchs, their migration, their host plant, and why creating a monarch waystation is helpful to the continuation of the species.  Karen led a discussion that taught the students about monarchs and also about milkweed, winter seed sowing, and reviewing the water cycle. As a retired teacher, Karen was more than ready to jump into leading the students in a game, simulation, and discussion that led up to the winter seed sowing activity. 

Students drilled milk jugs, filled them with potting soil and wet the soil.  Fluffy milkweed seeds were scattered in the soil (and possibly elsewhere) and gently misted.  Do-it-all duct tape sealed the cut edges of the jugs and they were ready to be put outside to stratify in the cold.  The student “Milkweed Crew” will watch over the jugs when they're out on the playground over the winter.  Karen taught the “Crew” what to watch for (moisture –too much, too little) and what to do to make their little seedlings healthy and happy.

Thank you to Greta Gnagy and Mandy Robek for giving us such delightful mini gardeners and for allowing us to share the wonder of Monarchs with your third graders.

And thank you to our creative and energetic intern MGs Karen Rissmeyer, Cynthia Buettner and Stephany Merick who are bringing the science of gardening back to our schools!

-Gayle O’Sullivan

John Heinz - 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year 

The Mission of the Delaware County Master Gardener Association is to provide environmentally sound, research-based horticultural education to the residents of Delaware County. There are many ways to accomplish this, but this Year’s candidate stands out specifically in three areas. John Heinz has worked tirelessly and quietly answering questions sent to the Help Desk, replying to questions submitted to the state-wide Ask a Master Gardener program, and interpreting and making recommendations regarding soil analyses.

John became a Master Gardener Volunteer in 2007. By 2011, he took charge of reviewing soil analyses and providing detailed advice to homeowners on how to amend their soil to improve their lawns and gardens. On average, John provided recommendations to 45 homeowners per year. John’s expertise was called upon to help MGVs enrolled in the 2018 Advanced Master Gardener Soils Specialization Program and more recently to develop and train a group of Master Gardeners in 2021 to take over this project.

In addition, John provided education to residents through the Helpdesk as the primary volunteer. Every Monday morning the Extension Office could count on John to appear ready and willing to research and answer various gardening emails and phone messages from Delaware County residents. In his spare time, he developed a filing system for replies and trained many of the new interns so they could readily respond to inquiries.

Since 2013, John has been responsible for answering questions submitted to the statewide Ask a Master Gardener program. As one would expect John’s replies were always well-researched, informative and succinct.

Over the years, John was involved in other DCMGA projects, including the plant sale, fair gates and the I-tree survey. He has been fondly referred to as the Tree Guy by many an intern. John has been an exemplary model of a Master Gardener Volunteer and because of his devotion to the Delaware County Extension Office and Master Gardener Association, John Heinz has been named the 2022 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.

DCMGA Wins 2021 State Awards in Four Categories!!

Congratulations to all our winning Master Gardener Volunteers and their projects.  We are excited to announce that our Delaware County group of Master Gardener Volunteers swept the awards at the 2021 OSU Extension Annual State Conference!

We all give in so many ways in so many amazing projects, paying forward to our community and to each other.  This year, we recognized the following projects, MGVs and Friends of MGVs and we are thrilled that they were acknowledged by the State as being the “best of the best”.

Grace Clinic Project (Barb Butt and Carol Champa)

DCMGA Website (Tech Committee)

We’d like to give just a brief overview of the achievements of each of our winners.

Terri Litchfield – Outstanding MGV

Terri is a generous and tireless ambassador for Native Plants in the Master Gardener program. She is welcoming, patient beyond bounds and a judicious delegator, all useful traits for the Chairman of the largest committee in the DCMGA organization. Technical know-how and organization are just a few of the strong leadership qualities that make Terri an inspirational leader who is bubbling with ideas and knows how to make them happen. Planning education days, seed starting events, garden walks or solving technical problems while sharing her love of native plants with the community, Terri always has a smile.  She empowers MGs to never cease learning and to share their knowledge with others. Inspired by the interest in her native garden, Terri assembled a committee and got to work growing native plants to sell, and along the way, created educational opportunities for both the community and MGs.  Butterflies and Master Gardeners alike, we thank Terri for all that she does on our behalf and on the behalf of all gardeners.

Native Plant Propagation Project – Outstanding Large MGV Project (Environmental Horticulture) 

The Native Plants project began in 2018 as a means for Delaware County Master Gardener Volunteers (DCMGVs) to learn more about plants native to our state and region and to grow these natives to sell to the public. It evolved into a major educational and plant nursery effort of 38 DCMGVs who promote the ecological benefits of native plants to our community and grow 16 species of natives to offer to the public through our annual plant sale.

We reach out to both Master Gardeners and the casual gardener interested in preserving biodiversity through our workshops, presentations and plant sales and digitally through our webinars and Facebook. We strive to teach gardening practices that are ecologically sustainable and promote habitat health for insects and birds through the use of native plantings.  

Specifically, our goals are to:

Pandemic Perseverance Award 

This was a (hopefully) once in a lifetime award to address how each county reacted and adapted to the limitations place upon them by the COVID pandemic.  How did MGVs continue to reach out to their communities?  This award required two essay nominations and we chose the new DCMGA Website and the Grace Clinic project.

1.  In what ways was your county able to continue to connect to MGVs and the community during the pandemic? 

DCMGA Website – the tech committee

Delaware County was resilient throughout the pandemic, finding ways to continue to engage with stakeholders both internally and externally. Creating fact sheets, plant profiles, educational videos and other materials, the members realized there was nowhere to “house” all of these (and past) great resources. The association created a technology committee to brainstorm next steps and potential options. The tech committee came to the conclusion that a website needed to be created to be the hub for all the educational resources. The website was created with the vision of being a resource to Delaware County community members as a gardening and horticulture library and quickly grew to so much more.

Studying extension and horticultural websites across the nation, the Master Gardener Volunteer technology committee itemized priorities to make the website intuitive, fun, colorful, current and packed with useful easy-to-access gardening information for both the casual and Master Gardener. 

Last year was a difficult year for our Master Gardeners, but the pandemic gave us time to assess and catalog our strengths.  It gave us time to find and develop a new path to digitally connect to our Delaware County and MGV communities and to further open access to all our wonderful educational and horticultural resources. 

Stratford Ecological Center – Outstanding MGV Friend

Over the years the Delaware County Master Gardeners have made use of both Stratford’s physical resources and the Center’s knowledgeable welcoming staff to host monthly Master Gardener meetings and to present a variety of programs to the local community. One staff member, Bob Harter, is a specialist in native plants and has been extremely helpful with several of our native plant programs.

In early 2020, Delaware County Master Gardeners (DCMG) entered into a partnership with Stratford to build two raised beds on SEC property.  We needed more land for our native plant nurseries. DCMGVs would provide native plant training to the community at Stratford in exchange for use of SEC garden property – truly a win-win situation! 

Delaware County Master Gardeners value Stratford Ecological Center as much more than just a ‘Friend’ of our organization but also as an important resource for Central Ohio. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with them on so many varied educational horticultural events and we thank them for all the support and knowledge they have so generously shared with us. 

2.  Please provide examples of successes (up to 3) that you achieved in your county projects despite the limitations created by the pandemic.     

Grace Clinic – Barb Butt and Carol Champa 

Grace Clinic is a free medical ministry in the city of Delaware that serves uninsured and underinsured members of the community.  Diabetes and obesity are major health concerns and nutrition is a frequent topic of conversation between the clinic and their clients. Learning what to eat and just as importantly, having the right food choices readily available were goals of the partnership between DCMGVs and Grace Clinic.

Barb Butt and Carol Champa answered the clinic’s call for help and advice on how to provide fresh produce and to educate their clients on the benefits of eating fresh vegetables. They planted raised beds with lettuce, peas, beets, cucumbers, beans, cabbage, squash, tomatoes, and sweet peppers and instructed clinic staff on best practices for watering, harvesting, and maintenance.  The clinic tended the prolific garden and provided their clients with many goodie bags of fresh vegetables to enjoy, always with a reminder of the benefits of fresh produce.

A second, and wildly successful part of the partnership, taught Grace Clinic clients how to grow their own vegetables.  Carol and Barb assembled over 30 tomato “kits” and created a “Vegetable Gardening 101” PowerPoint that was made into a YouTube video in a MGV’s home garden. Clinic clients interested in taking home a “kit” watched the video during their appointments and learned about growing vegetables, specifically care of tomatoes.

Along with the Grace Clinic Executive Director Melissa Mason, we thank Barb and Carol for their “overwhelming success”.  “The container gardens were such a hit – we got more calls for that program than any other nutrition outreach to date! Patients would come in each week with reports on how their garden was growing.”

Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award
(Highest Level of Excellence)

DCMGA and the Delaware County Extension Office were granted the Platinum Level Standard of Excellence Award for meeting at least nine criteria of the Master Gardener program.  Requirements include submission of membership data including CEUs and hours volunteered, adherence to state policies, internal financial review, offering of a community education program, and submittal of award nominees.

Charlotte Niceswanger - 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year 

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association is proud to announce Charlotte Niceswanger as the 2021 Delaware County Master Gardener of the Year.

Charlotte developed our Master Gardeners’ Facebook page into a major presence in horticultural education and information.  She recognized the untapped potential of Facebook and with humor, well organized postings and beautiful photography she brought our extensive gardening knowledge to social media and into the homes of all of our many “friends”.

Last year was a difficult year for Master Gardeners.  Our Mission Statement is to “educate others with timely, research-based gardening information”.   When state and OSU restrictions were put in place in Spring 2020, Facebook became one of our prime communications venues.  Charlotte works tirelessly with Master Gardeners to identify programming and educational postings to keep our Delaware County residents entertained, learning and gardening.

An excellent hobby photographer, Charlotte uses her unique skills to add beauty and her creative and timely ‘Humor Thursdays’ add a touch of fun when it is desperately needed.  As our gardens grow and evolve, so too has the Delaware County Master Gardener Facebook page under Charlotte’s loving care. A dash of fun, a sprinkle of sparkle and a heaping dose of education and information – these are the tools that Charlotte uses to reach and teach our public friends.

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association has been enriched by Charlotte’s commitment and her willingness to creatively step up and help out.  In honor of her contributions, DCMGA will award two $2500 scholarships in Charlotte’s name to any High School seniors and/or college students going into the field of horticulture.

Thank you Charlotte, for your gifts of time and talent to us and to all of the home gardening community.

By: Gayle O’Sullivan

Liechty Honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019

The Delaware County Master Gardener Association (DCMGA) is proud to announce that Susan Liechty was honored as an Outstanding Master Gardener Volunteer for 2019 at the OSU Extension Annual Conference. Susan has been active in DCMGA for 25 years! 

Susan is the embodiment of a tireless ambassador for the Master Gardener program. She is an innovator of new educational programs that attract MGVs and draw in the gardening public. She empowers MGVs to educate others and to never cease teaming. She is a mentor, an educator, a leader and a highly respected MGV at all levels, local to national, professional horticulturalist to first time gardener. In a perfect analogy, one gardening magazine described Susan as "warm and comfortable as a country kitchen" ... if one throws in a pinch of spice! 

Her joyful hands-on approach to teaching, her extensive contributions to herbal knowledge and her enthusiasm in sharing that information, her willingness to listen and lead have only intensified over her 25 years as an extremely active MGV. Susan is one of our strongest supporters for advanced Master Gardener education and her vision, guidance and hard work have created so many learning opportunities such as her "Green Thumbs" Workshops and her "Advanced Specialization in Herbs" program.

Garden communicator, herb enthusiast, author and integral part of the Education Committee, Susan is a constant source of support and inspiration and has helped (and helps) to mold the DCMGA into the vibrant and growing organization that it is todav.