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Welcome to the Lakelands Master Gardeners Website

The Lakelands Master Gardeners Inc. is a non-profit corporation that is affiliated with the Clemson University Extension Service. The Lakelands Master Gardener program serves all people regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.

Through The Years Accomplishments of the Lakelands Master Gardeners

We have come such a long way. From a rather modest beginning, we are, today, a formidable unit of Gardeners. We have won a few, lost a few, and some got 'rained out'. I think that old Baseball adage works for us as it works for any group striving to reach perfection. The years have brought about accomplishments that were based on goals designed to provide services and volunteerism to the Greenwood area and surrounding communities.

We will begin our timeline in the year 1998. Many thanks go to Kathryn White, who held two Master Gardener classes that year. Kathryn had moved from the Kershaw County Extension Office to the Greenwood office in December of 1997.

In June of 1999, Master Gardeners and Clemson Extension officially opened a helping center at the Mall. Kathryn provided a sound basis on which we have grown in stature. In 2000, she resigned, to pursue other interests. From then until now, Kathryn has become one of us, and we continue to admire and use her knowledge. The same year, James Hodges was hired by the Clemson Extension to replace Kathryn and James has continued the knowledge base. Besides James, Steve Odom, retired Extension Agent, was brought out of retirement to help with our Master Gardeners and manage the Farmers Market. To all the Clemson Extension personnel – "Thanks for being there".

Ray Ousley found our 'home away from home' - the Northwest Fire Department Activities Building in the year 2000. It is an excellent meeting facility, which serves us and many other groups to this day. Some projects, which were started in 2000, were workdays at Meg’s House and a new park at Grendel Village. We had a social picnic at the home of Joann Gray, such a beautiful home, and such a fine lady. Kathryn and Chris Jayne chaired Bob Polomski’s book signing, Month-By-Month Gardening in the Carolinas. Maggie Grob and Deb Granquist chaired Jack DeVoorman’s Hosta Auction at the Mall. Mary and Tommy O’Dell chaired the Flower Show at the Mall for the Festival of Flowers. Dana Ellis was starting to get the Speakers Bureau into motion, and it is getting stronger with time. Chris Jayne and Dot Gambrell were providing many, many hours to man the Mall Extension Office, which has proven to be a very nice location to "answer the public".

The year 2001 brought about more accomplishments. Committees were brought more into focus, with the Bylaws Committee totally rewriting our bylaws. They redefined the Board composition and membership status. The Program and Speakers Bureau began compiling a list of interesting and educational speakers to talk before our group and other groups and organizations. The Community Projects Committee reviewed and adopted the criteria for submission of new projects. They continued coordinating the Grendel Village project and held numerous workdays at various sites through the year. The Membership Committee created and implemented a phone tree to call members who do not have email. They also put in place a process to email and call members on short notice about particular events or needs. The Newsletter Committee made their product timely. They added new features and more of them. The Education Committee held “Community Parks Workshops”. These were a series of four seminars geared to those who wanted to help with their neighborhood parks. Training modules were formulated to be consistent from year-to-year and group-to-group. The Social Activities Committee set up several field trips and a trip to the Southern Garden Conference. They planned the Annual Awards Banquet and held the first annual picnic for members and spouses.

Moving to year 2002, we became more focused and set loftier goals.
The Program and Speakers Bureau had three ongoing projects for the year: They compiled a list of speakers that are available to come and speak to our group and others; they continued to build a list of available speakers to talk to other groups; and, they maintained a catalog of horticultural programs and databases. The Grendel Village Community Project design was completed and major plantings were conducted. Eight to ten other workdays were held at various sites. Membership duties were shifted to the Board of Directors in 2002. They emphasized phoning, emailing members about meetings, workdays, or any other points of interest. The Newsletter created more features, more articles, and email distribution was implemented. The Education Committee was again instrumental in helping the Extension with the Fall Master Gardener Class. Social activities included field trips to the Southern Garden Show, in Charlotte, NC, the Riverbanks Symposium, in Columbia, and the Annual Awards Banquet. Our group attained the "Non Profit, Tax Free" status, by way of many hours of work by Paula LeMond. We submitted pictures and articles to the Index Journal of some major events and distributed new Master Gardener brochures to area nurseries and garden centers. The "Green Thumbs" manual was completed, which is a structured guideline that can be used by any member and taught to any group.

During the year 2003, Green Thumbs classes were held in Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick with 76 enrolled. Master Gardener Training was shared with 27 interested gardeners. The First Annual Fundraiser raised over $2,000 with the 1st prize being a yard makeover. A Mentor Program was begun to welcome and support new class members. Master Gardeners participated in the 1st Annual Farmers’ Market Festival in addition to the Festival of Flowers and numerous other work days. Due to growth, a new system was developed for Community Projects so that each Project would have its own chair. It only seems like yesterday when our group was formed, but time moves on. Clemson University is faced with shorter funding from the state, consumer demands to garden and to take care of the land are increasing. The Lakelands Master Gardeners are faced with more responsibilities and maintaining even loftier goals than in the past. Hard work and dedication will pull us through and add to the personal satisfaction of being a volunteer in such a dynamic organization.

As our Lakelands Master Gardeners moved into the year of 2004, we faced opportunities that would help our total membership bond together, first as friends, then as co-workers together to accomplish our goals. The total commitment of our membership to emphasize gardening during the varied activities at the Festival of Flowers was commendable. Many hours during that one weekend were donated by our group in giving out literature and in answering questions to help gardeners in our area have better gardening skills and accomplishments. And then, there were the actual times of digging in the dirt that set our blood flowing. Several school gardening projects were finished. The South Carolina Fence Garden project at Pinecrest saw its groundbreaking. Several of our Master Gardeners helped this take place. The beds at the Northwest Volunteer Fire Department bloomed with splendor after being tenderly cared for by our caregivers. Then, our biggest accomplishment garden-wise was the renovation of the large beds at the Greenwood Mall. Not every group in the state can go shopping at a mall and be able to point out the fantastic beds he or she helped to create. For some time our goal has been to work on establishing a web site of our own. The groundwork and readiness for this goal were accomplished by some skillful and talented people in our group this year. 2004 was a year that we can look back upon with pride in what we, as a group, felt and did because that’s what being a Master Gardener is all about. Each of us is one, but when put together as a group, we can learn from others, listen to a need and then leap out to get the job done.

2005, what a productive year! We finally got our web site up and running. Our web site address is www.lakelandsmastergardener.org. It will need some tweaking going forward, but at least we are on the internet. Our membership has continued to grow and now numbers over 110 members. We had a fantastic fundraiser this past year, which was a tour of local Master Gardeners’ private gardens. Over 200 tickets were sold! The coverage of this event in The Index-Journal was excellent. We cleared over $1700.00, which was earmarked for our Habitat for Humanity Community Project. We completed several other community projects, including the garden at the new Hospice facility. We had a wonderful recruiting year with 19 new students completing the Master Gardener course this past fall. Over 20 interns earned Master Gardener certification in 2005 from the previous year’s class.
The Master Gardener volunteer hour totals were at an all time high in 2005, thanks to a hard working membership, and the great work of our "Hours Coordinator", Linda Halsey. Turning in hours is very important in our current "Economic Climate". Also, our community’s request for Master Gardener assistance with programs and projects far exceeds our capabilities, indicating a growing awareness of our programs. Everyone needs to continue to recruit new members for the next class, because the "horticulture knowledge appetite" continues to grow in the Lakelands.

Master Gardeners started off 2006 with a great community project - The Railroad Museum. The front and back gardens had been neglected for years and with just one work day, it was amazing how much better it looked. Some of our Master Gardeners branched out this year and went to the annual symposium in Greenville. That helped us get ideas for programs and improved our knowledge of gardening. The two money-making projects, our spring plant sale and June drawings, were real successes. We participated in all the gardening activities of the Festival of Flowers. In the fall, we partnered with the Lander Arboretum Committee and assisted them in an evening with Dr. Michael Dirr. Winter brought the completion of the Master Gardener class. The class had 23 participants.

2007 was a great year for the Master Gardeners. We had a year full of excellent speakers and lovely private garden tours for our monthly meetings. And we had an excellent array of community projects, which of course, is our main purpose. We continued to work on the grounds of the Railroad Museum, and it was beautiful for the Festival of Flowers. Over 500 people toured the site during the event. We worked to clean up and rejuvenate the Memory Garden at Oakland Elementary School that honors the lives of two little girls who were killed by a gunman in 1988. The faculty, staff and students were very pleased with our efforts. As a part of the Lander Arboretum project, our own Daniel Nolan created a plan, and we helped plant 55 trees and shrubs. This is an ongoing beautification project that we will continue to support. We also did a vegetable gardening project with the young men of PALS. Donna Boozer provided a mini-seminar on Gardening 101, and we helped them create raised beds and plant vegetables. This was an informative start for the children on what gardening is and the care necessary to produce a crop. The annual fundraising event met our goal of $1500 through the plant and birdhouse sale and by raffling two donated composters. The membership continues to grow and evolve with each graduating class and those earning Master Gardener certification.

2008 has come and gone. The fundraising committee, working without a chair person, pulled off an excellent plant sale and raffle. Chris Moffitt created and donated a beautiful quilted wall hanging, and Kathleen Kapasalis painted and donated a lovely framed piece of art. Over $2000 was made. As for community projects, some work continued on the Railroad Museum grounds, and we manned our information table at Park Seed during the Festival of Flowers. But, our major accomplishment this year was our work on the topiary project. The Chamber of Commerce wanted to have Disney style topiaries in downtown Greenwood as a tourist attraction during the F of F. They requested help from the Master Gardeners, and we agreed. Little did we know how much work we would end up doing. Our newly graduated Dwight Long became the project coordinator and spent hundreds of hours working on every aspect of the project. Other members also spent many hours working on individual pieces by assembling, irrigating, stuffing, mounting and landscaping. Some members went to local schools to supervise and educate students plugging plants into the forms. We sponsored the flamingo piece with cash donations and adopted the giraffe as our own. Nancy Collin and Cindy Wilkins became the main creators of the giraffe volunteering hundreds of hours of work. It was covered with coconut fiber and spots were painted. It was very lifelike and gorgeous. The topiaries were housed at Piedmont Technical College's greenhouse where we continued to work until time for display. While on display, members worked in shifts to check the condition of the topiaries on a daily basis. In spite of the enormity of the project, it was a huge success. By all accounts, the topiaries were well received by the community and enjoyed by all. We hear that the Chamber wants a baby giraffe for 2009. We begin 2009 with 18 new and enthusiastic interns from the 2008 class and a total of 96 members.

The Master Gardeners had a very busy 2009. Our lives became very confusing when we found that we had lost our normal meeting location just before our January graduation and annual banquet. The confusion was only intensified, when due to the economic downturn, it was necessary to move our office from the Greenwood Mall location to the new Clemson Extension location at the old Brewer School building on East Cambridge Avenue.We had a huge variety of speakers at our regular meetings with topics ranging from using rain barrels, interesting calls to the Clemson Home and Garden Center, successful water gardening, protecting our pollinators, edible and medicinal plants and host plants for SC butterflies. We also toured The Medieval Garden along with a daylily garden. A very popular meeting was the live wreath workshop. We also had many community projects. We planted daffodil bulbs at Magnolia Park, did a design plan for the Beckman Mental Health Center in Clinton, participated in some spring cleaning at the Railroad Historical Center, did a new planting around the historical sign at the old Brewer School and designed and planted the rain garden at the old Brewer School. The main event was a fall vegetable container garden project for the community serving over 80 participants. As always, we participated in the Festival of Flowers acting as host/hostesses during the garden tours and distributed horticultural information during Park Seed Day. We were responsible for the jeep topiary, which was on display in Uptown Greenwood during the Festival of Flowers. Our year ended decorating a tree for the Hospice Festival of Trees.

In 2010 we had to use two more locations for our programs this past year. We first started at the Genetics Center, and we are deeply grateful for its use—a little bit difficult to find, but a great facility. Then we found the Greenwood Metro Division, and for now, it will be our new meeting place. Due to a smaller Clemson budget, our 2010 Master Gardener Class had to pay a bit more for the program. We had 12 excellent students to finish and graduate adding more to our knowledge and volunteer base. This year we changed our board and regular meeting schedules to every other month. We also added the committee chairs to our bi-monthly board meetings. We did agree to schedule our annual picnic to a cooler month, May. Although there was a good turnout this past year, the temperature was a bit too high. It may have been over 100 degrees. It certainly felt like it. In closing, I am continually amazed at the talent in our organization. I want to thank everyone for making this job easier. (Dwight Long, President)

2011 - 2013: Pending

In 2014 there were a number of accomplishments:

*Welcomed 11 new graduates from the Master Gardener class. LMG provided 6 partial scholarships in support of this class. We had mentors for every student and also provided volunteers at each class to help in various ways.
*Recreated the Jeep topiary for the Festival of Flowers and also assisted with some of the other topiaries propagation. *Had an informational booth at the Home and Garden Show in the Greenwood Mall. *Conducted several Landscape Clinics at area homes with good attendance. *Held a pruning clinic for MG's and toured the City Greenhouses. *Held several work days, to include the GMD planting containers, City Gardens and Seniors Farmer Market vouchers. *Had a very successful Plant Sale at the Farmer's Market Plant Festival. *Held 3 speaker/member meetings on various topics with the public invited. *Provided 12 monthly newsletters and email blasts for 92 members regarding gardening events and information. *Maintained a Facebook page and Website, as well as creating a County Library Display Board one month. *Held the February Awards Dinner/Annual Meeting, Spring Picnic and Christmas Social.

Respectfully submitted:
by Chuck Marion, 2003
Revised: 2005
Revised: 2006
Revised: 2007
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Revised: 2010
Revised: 2015