What do Master Gardeners do in Washington County?

The mission of the University of Minnesota Extension Washington County Master Gardener Program is to provide volunteers trained in horticulture to educate the public with research-based information on the best practices in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship.

The Washington County Master Gardener Program will provide an environment that is friendly and supportive so volunteer training, experience and enthusiasm will produce maximum benefits to our communities.

We Answer Questions

  • Ask a Master Gardner Via Phone We answer yard and garden-related questions of every type imaginable over the phone through the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Yard & Garden Line (612-301-7590). Questions are answered by a Master Gardener when on duty; otherwise leave a detailed message explaining the problem or question. We will call back with a response.
  • Ask a Master Gardener In Person We answer questions and provide information at local events such as the FamilyMeans Garden Tour, the Mahtomedi Garden Tour, Forest Lake Arts in the Park, Valley Creek Mall in Woodbury, Washington County Fair, tree distributions, and farmers’ markets. Also look for us at the Landscape Arboretum Yard & Garden desk, Minnesota State Fair, Home and Garden Show, and seasonally at the Edible Garden at Como Park.
  • Ask a Master Gardener via the Internet We reply to questions on the Extension website (ask.extension.org/horticulture).
  • Diagnotic Clinics Bring in plant or insect samples and teams of Master Gardeners will diagnose common problems and make recommendations. Clinics are held at the Washington County Fairgrounds at our annual plant sale in June, periodically at Valley Creek Mall and the Woodbury Farmer’s Market, and at scheduled times during the Washington County Fair in August. For currently scheduled diagnostic clinics check our calendar.

We Provide Education

  • Plant Sale & Diagnostic Clinic
    We host an annual plant sale and clinic in the spring at the Washington County Fairgrounds. Master Gardeners will help you select the right perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs for the conditions in your yard. Bring your plant and insect specimens for diagnosis, look at various educational displays, and ask a Master Gardener your gardening questions. Proceeds support the University of Minnesota Extension Washington County Master Gardener Program .
  • Community Education Classes
    We teach adult education horticultural classes in Forest Lake, Stillwater and South Washington County schools. Check your local Community Education catalog for topics, locations, times and registration information.
  • Demonstration Gardens
    We plan, plant and maintain demonstration gardens at the Washington County Fairgrounds and Carpenter Nature Center. The fairgrounds garden is staffed during the county fair and selected events throughout the year. During the fair, Master Gardeners also do gardening demonstrations, provide Extension publications and often have special displays on hot topics. The Carpenter Nature Center garden is planted with plants that attract butterflies and bees and is used in youth education about nature and the environment. These gardens are open to the public year round. Smaller demonstration gardens are in Forest Lake, Cottage Grove, and at the Bayport Library. Demonstration rain gardens are at the Washington County Fairgrounds and Carpenter Nature Center.
  • Habitat for Humanity
    We design and supervise the installation of landscape materials at Habitat for Humanity homes in Washington County. We work with homeowners to develop landscape plans, supervise planting and teach homeowners proper plant maintenance so they can keep their yards sustainable and productive. Some homeowners choose to plant vegetable gardens along with flowers, shrubs and trees.
  • Prevention and Reduction of Invasive and Noxious Species
    We educate homeowners about how to identify, prevent and reduce invasive noxious species, such as wild parsnip and buckthorn. We teach classes, train volunteers at buckthorn removal events, and provide information in person, by phone and over the web.
  • Improving Water Quality
    We provide access to research-based information on water quality topics, including rain gardens, through guided training and planting sessions, classroom education, published articles and website links. For example, we have taught school children and adults how to plant rain gardens and helped them understand why doing this helps protect our water supplies.

We Support Other Projects by Request

The public requests Master Gardener help with numerous community projects annually. We select those that best fit our education mission, and send Master Gardener volunteers to help. Other typical volunteer activities include:

  • Public speaking and presentations (see Speakers Bureau below)
  • Writing articles for local media
  • Supervising and teaching youth volunteers
  • Working with other organizations such as Great River Greening and the Washington Conservation District
  • Teaching and assisting at community gardens
  • Helping schools and churches develop their own horticultural curricula
  • Assisting cities with their environmental and beautification projects
  • And much more

We Speak on Gardening Topics

The University of Minnesota Extension Washington County Master Gardeners maintain a Speakers Bureau. Members have several talks prepared and can create presentations based on the needs of the requesting group. Master Gardeners speak at garden club meetings and workshops, neighborhood and organizational gatherings, and community education classes. If you are looking for a speaker on gardening, the environment, or horticulture, you can choose from the following topics or ask about a program that fits with your group’s interests:

  • Annuals for Minnesota
  • Beginning gardening
  • Bonsai
  • Buckthorn control
  • Butterfly gardening
  • Composting
  • Container gardening
  • Four seasons of gardening
  • Garden design
  • Herbs
  • Indoor gardening
  • Invasive plants
  • Landscaping
  • Lawn care
  • Monarch butterflies
  • Noxious weeds
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Perennials for Minnesota
  • Pocket prairies in the home landscape
  • Pruning
  • Rain gardens
  • Roses
  • Spring and summer bulbs
  • Trees and shrubs
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Wildflowers

To schedule a speaker for your group, please contact the project coordinator, Barbara at bjronningen@yahoo.com or 651-436-5881. For all other inquiries, please email wcmg@umn.edu.

If you would like to make a donation to the Washington County Master Gardener Program, contact Kristin@ktooze@q.com or 651-592-6739.