I had to miss my Master Gardener Class IV because my mom had emergency surgery that day to remove her gall bladder. She insisted that I go to my class, but I insisted more on being at the hospital and she knows better than to argue with me, because she seldom wins (unless I let her). *winks at Mom* She's doing fine.
Class V was last week and what a treat it was! In the morning, we had a fun session with Janice Kline, as she talked to us about herbs - growing them and using them in cooking.
The afternoon session was on landscape design and perennials, taught by the always energetic Marcella Ciccotelli, owner of Colorscapes Gardens and Landscaping, just south of Defiance. I always enjoy visiting Colorscapes, not only because they have great plants, but because Marcella is just fun!
After hearing her speak on the principles of design, it just confirmed that "a garden designer I ain't." I'm more of the buy-the-plant-then-try-to-find-a-place-for-it kind of gardener. But I find that over the years I'm making better choices as a result of having more experience and listening to people like Marcella.
Stoney Ridge Farm & Winery, near Bryan, Ohio. We were supposed to have the class outside, where we would learn how to prune grapes, but it rained most of the day so class was held inside.
Pam Stotz, the winery owner (along with her husband, Phil), explained how to prune grapes and which ones are best for growing in our area. Then the Defiance County OSU Extension educator, Bruce Clevenger, spoke about brambles. Each of these talks was very timely for me personally, because it's time to prune our grapes, and I've been wanting to get some thornless blackberry canes.
We then took a tour of the winery, where we watched 'Barn Dance White' being bottled. This is done by hand!
We got to taste some of the wines that are made there, including a rhubarb wine. I'm not a fan of rhubarb, but the wine was surprisingly tasty! I ended up buying a bottle of Barn Dance Blush.
We had our lunch break, after which our afternoon session began. Bill Grimes, from the Defiance County Soil & Water Conservation District talked to us about how to deal with wildlife in the garden, such as deer, rabbits, and squirrels.
Next, Bette Mohr, Master Gardener and eagles nest monitor for the Department of Natural Resources shared some of her experiences while watching eagles in the Defiance area. She had some great photos, including some of the eagles in the nest south of Defiance, where we always see them. I learned that we shouldn't get too close to an eagle's nesting area so as to lessen the chance of them being disturbed, even though they're very high up.
Interesting eagle fact: Ohio's bald eagle population grew from only four nesting pairs along the southwestern Lake Erie shore 31 years ago, to a record 215 eagle nests statewide in 2009.¹
We're now about three-fourths of the way through our Master Gardener classes. I'll be attending one more before I have to miss our last class on April 22, when I'll be in Cincinnati attending the Garden Writer's Association Region III meeting and the Cincinnati Flower Show. Our final exam will be April 29th, then I'll begin working towards completing 50 hours of volunteer work before officially being designated a Master Gardener.
¹Ohio's Bald Eagles Begin Incubating Eggs, ODNR News, February 17, 2010.