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Cultivating Community: The work of a local Master Gardener

April 5, 2019 | 3:25 am

Updated April 4, 2019 | 9:45 pm

Bonnie Nance is a local Master Gardener with the Daviess County Extension Office. She volunteers her time educating others about horticulture and answering questions about her lifetime hobby. | Photo by Daniel Benedict

Grass is sprouting, trees are beginning to bud and birds are chirping. The quintessential signs of spring are here, and, for Master Gardener Bonnie Nance, the busy season has started.

“Spring is really busy because you have your maintenance and getting your garden started for the year. It’s so welcome after a cold winter,” Nance said. “Owensboro is a pretty place to live and has great weather to grow a garden.”

Nance is a local Master Gardener with the Daviess County Extension Office. She volunteers her time educating others about horticulture and answering questions about her lifetime hobby.

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“I’ve always had an interest in gardening,” Nance said. “All of our family are farmers, so it’s in my blood.”

Master Gardeners help County Extension Agents reach residents to help with their gardening problems and questions by attending community events, answering phone calls, visiting garden sites and teaching classes.

“We make ourselves available for any questions that people may have,” Nance said. “We have a booth at the farmer’s market, home and garden shows, Friday After 5 and any event that we can get out to.”

Beautification is the obvious goal of Nance’s volunteer work as a Master Gardener, but she says her work at places like Hospice have shown her that the impact goes much deeper.

“We take care of 10.8 acres of ground there,” Nance said. “There’s a place where residents can roll their beds out and they watch us work and can see the garden and the lake. It’s just a little thing, but if you’re coming in to see a relative or loved one there, it helps you a little bit to see something beautiful.”

And it’s not just the flowers and plants that catch the eyes of the Hospice patients and visitors. A Monarch Waystation was placed on-site and provides a safe home and viewing place for butterflies.

“The residents can sit outside and watch the butterflies come and go,” Nance said. “We want it to be a peaceful, restful place.”

Nance is certainly a busy lady with her Master Gardener commitments. Somehow, she still manages her own garden at home and sees it as a therapeutic outlet instead of work.

“I get out there about seven every morning and don’t come back in until dinner time,” Nance said. “If I’m not out there working, I’m taking pictures of the butterflies and flowers. Sometimes I’m really thankful for a rainy day so I can rest!”

Nance says her favorite flower would have to be summer phlox or daylilies. No green thumb? Her advice to get a garden started may surprise you.

“The first thing a Master Gardener will tell you to do is get a soil sample,” she said. “Your soil is your base for everything – vegetable or flower garden. If you have good soil, you can grow all kinds of stuff successfully.”

Nance’s work is ramping up now that spring is here and she says she enjoys the time spent cultivating relationships through gardening.

“Part of the appeal of it is doing a whole lot of things in your community and meeting new people,” Nance said. “You stay busy and feel needed. I’m 62, so at 62 to feel needed, that’s really nice.”

For more information on the Extension Master Gardener Program and to inquire about becoming a Master Gardener, contact the Daviess County Cooperative Extension Service at (270) 685-8480.

April 5, 2019 | 3:25 am

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