Make A Wreath Workshop – November 1, 2013

by Mary Ann Hindes, Master Gardener and Workshop Chair


Gwinnett Master Gardener Jessica Miller offered her design expertise to show 17 Gwinnett Master Gardeners how to create wreaths using both artificial and living materials. Each participant fashioned a 14-inch wreath using artificial pine twigs, a bird’s nest, two brilliantly colored birds, and burlap ribbon. Jessica also demonstrated working with a grapevine wreath form to create a dried flower wreath and a basket wreath. Everyone was fascinated by the oasis table wreath demonstration; floral foam is attached to a plastic tray for long-lasting live centerpieces and the tray/saucer protects your table. We all went home with a charming wreath and many ideas for future projects. I’ll be rooting ivy for my live wreath this afternoon!

wreath-class img_4500 wreath4 wreath2 mary-ann-wreath-class wreath11 wreath1 wreath10 wreath8

This was the final workshop for 2013. In the past year our association has hosted two advanced master gardener trainings: Woody Landscape Plant Identification and Selection and Leadership: Building a Dynamic MGEV Network. Both of these classes helped members meet requirements for advanced master gardener certification. Additionally there have been five workshops ranging from nature photography to building a birdhouse. If you have any ideas for 2014 workshops or would like to volunteer your expertise, please email one of our board members. All of our workshop instructors have been GCMGA members. Thanks to Mary Bachner, Jane Burke, Terri Erwin, Jessica Miller, Don Stewart, Carole Teja, and Aaron Tulin. Workshops offer a path to gaining knowledge and forming friendships. And workshops are fun.

Hypertufa Workshop – September 10, 2013

Hypertufa Birdbath

Gwinnett Master Gardeners are always learning new skills, and thanks to Workshop Host Carole Teja we now know how to master hypertufa.

To follow our earlier birdhouse workshop, it was natural to add a birdbath to the garden for our fine-feathered friends.  After selecting our favorite Colocasia leaves from Carole’s garden, we got busy mixing a formula of Portland concrete, peat moss, vermiculite, and water.  We mixed the concoction in wheelbarrows until it was the perfect consistency.  Then it was time to get down and dirty forming our water feature using the Colocasia leaf as our mold.   We had to determine how deep we wanted the shape to hold water, then we patted it into shape, carved our signature on the bottom to identify it as our own, and covered it with plastic.  What fun that was . . . more fun than making our childhood mud pies!

Since we had to let the form to dry for a few days, we left our treasures in Carole’s garage and anxiously waited to collect our unique garden art.  Now we are ready for the next step . . . making a trough planter using hypertufa!

Please click on the following picture to view as a slide show.

President’s Report – 2013

Our 20th year as an organization has been a busy, productive, and rewarding year as we worked to fulfill our mission to serve as stewards of the environment, and provide education that promotes beautiful gardens and a healthy lifestyle.

We began the year with changes to the UGA volunteer requirements. As always, change is challenging and creates controversy. It was a trying time because we are all so passionate about what we do for the community and what is best for our organization. We worked through the issues and came to compromises that created a win-win situation. As a result, the spirit of our organization and our relationship with the Extension Office is even stronger today.

Our organization’s mission is achieved through the commitment of our volunteers. You came forward this year, as in the past, and provided leadership, service, and many, many hours of your time.  You were there in terrible weather for the 4-H Plant Sale Pick-up day at the Fairgrounds, at numerous Ask-A-Master Gardener events, the Home Expo, working at Community Gardens, beautifying parks and recreational areas, being Angels to our Garden Tour hosts, and spreading your love of gardening while educating the public whenever and wherever you had the opportunity.

Your efforts have captured the attention of the media and there have been many wonderful articles on what Gwinnett Master Gardeners do in the community. We have become well-known throughout Gwinnett County as an organization that cares about our community and the environment and gets things done.

This year we awarded $5,000 in grants to community gardens, parks and recreational areas, and youth educational programs. We contributed $1,500 to higher education scholarships to support and encourage students studying horticulture.

Of course, we could not do this without the financial support of your dues and fundraising efforts. Your participation in the community has spread the word about our organization, and our membership exceeded the 200 milestone. This increases our volunteer force and income to support our activities. This year we raised funds through the Whole Foods Market 5% Day, our fabulous garden tour, cookbook sales, Master Gardener trainee breakfasts, and tonight’s drawing for these beautiful wreaths and centerpieces. I am pleased to report that we have exceeded our income goals and expenses are under budget.

As we all know, we get back more than we give through the sharing of information, friendships, and the fun we have working together. That is what forms the bond of our organization.

We have enjoyed many covered-dish suppers and learned from informative speakers at our monthly meetings about — Growing Up with Vines; Adding Interest to the Garden with Foliage, Bark and Berries; The World of Plant Propagation; Japanese Maples; Importance of Pollinators How to Spot a Dangerous Tree; Extending Your Gardening Season for an Endless Harvest; Southern Living Plant Collections; and Native Plants You Should Know. At our meetings, we also received reports from our grant recipients on how our grant funds contribute to the community and what we can do to assist in their efforts.

To further our own education, we sponsored Advanced Master Gardener Leadership Training, and introduced workshops to learn new skills . . . and have fun. We received inspiration for turning trash into garden treasures and we created stepping stones and planters. We learned how to use woodworking tools and power equipment to build birdhouses, and we got down and dirty working with hypertufa to make birdbaths. At our Photography Workshop we received tips on how to take the perfect picture and some of us even learned what the buttons on our cameras can do. Most recently we created beautiful wreaths and learned how to make living centerpieces and forever wreaths using dried flowers. All thanks to the volunteers who lead the workshops.

Educational field trips were both fun and enlightening. We visited the Johns Creek Environmental Center, attended the Southeastern Flower Show (at which many of you worked), toured Gibbs Gardens for Master Gardener Day, traveled to The Pocket at Pigeon Mountain to visit a wildflower nature preserve, toured Cox Arboretum and Ryan Ganey’s unique garden. On our most recent trip—in one day—we learned how our garden soil is tested at the UGA Soil Lab, visited the State Botanical Garden and gained knowledge about organic farming! We will conclude the year with a holiday tour of the Governor’s Mansion.

This year we continued some traditions including our Members Thank You Picnic, Photography Contest, Plant and Seed Exchange, and Weed and Feed events to assist members with their gardens when they are in need due to health issues.

After many months of preparation, we successfully launched our new website to better serve our members and provide information to the public. We documented officer and committee chair duties and procedures and posted them on the website to make leadership transition easier in the future.

Yes, it has been a busy year and we have accomplished a lot. I want to thank the Executive Committee, Committee Chairs, Fundraising Coordinators, Workshop Leaders, and each and every member for all you do for our organization and the community.

There is so much more to be done. Your unceasing support and contribution to this wonderful organization is needed for us to continue to grow and serve. Please extend your enthusiasm to the incoming officers and committee chairs for a wonderful 2014.

Thank you for your support this year. You made it happen!

Respectfully submitted,

Margaret Bergeron
President 2013

Birdhouse Workshop – July 20, 2013

Birdhouse Workshop 16  Making a home for our fine-feathered friends was a new experience for many of us.  Under the direction of Jane Burke and Aaron Tulin, our workshop hosts, and thanks to Mary Ann Hindes, Education Chair and workshop coordinator, we had the opportunity to learn many new skills.

At first glance this seemed a simple process — it is a birdhouse, isn’t it?  However, carefully measuring and following instructions turned out to be a challenge for the students and the instructors’ patience!  Plus, most of us had never used a drill press or a miter saw. After a serious safety talk, we don our safety glasses and ear protectors and put the power equipment to work to construct our cedar birdhouses.

After we completed the cutting and scored foot holds for our feathered friends to easily access their home,  there was more measuring, drilling, re-measuring, and checking the fit before we could raise hammers to assemble our projects.   We had many giggles over how confusing it was to make sure the swing door was not glued close and the spacer was in place to provide ventilation.  Finally, it was ready for the roof cap and pictures of our finished houses!

The only step not completed was deciding on where in our garden to place our new home for our chickadee and titmouse friends. Following the workshop, a tour of Jane’s garden gave us many ideas on finding the perfect spot!

Birdhouse Workshop (6)  Birdhouse for website  Birdhouse for website photo 1  Birdhouse Workshop (2)  Birdhouse Workshop16  Birdhouse Workshop (3)    Birdhouse Workshop 17  Birdhouse Workshop (8)  Birdhouse Workshop (10)  Birdhouse Workshop (12)