Meet a Master Gardener

by | Apr 2018

Community Gardens

Photo: Emily J. Davis

Q&A with Plymouth’s Mary Ellen Becker.

Mary Ellen Becker’s training as a master gardener helps her answer tough questions about plants and more.

Plymouth resident Mary Ellen Becker has been a Hennepin County Master Gardener volunteer since 2014. We asked this pro gardener more about what her role involves. The answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What’s involved in the process? 
There is an application, questionnaire and interview. We want to ensure that you’re using fact-based answers, not just old family tales or what your grandfather told you. Don’t get me wrong, those little tidbits can be very helpful when dealing with the public, but putting them together with resources from the University of Minnesota is the best and most complete.

How did you get interested in gardening?
I grew up gardening with my mom and truly learned when I was working full-time that it can be a stress-reliever for me as well as a creative outlet. I love a day in the garden, enjoying nature, seeing what’s growing and what’s not … it just inspires me.

What are the most common questions you get from the public?
– What is this plant; is it a weed?
– How do I deal with deer and critters?
– What are good plants for shade?
– How can I get rid of Creeping Charlie?
– What’s wrong with my tree?

What’s the most rewarding part of being a master gardener?
Helping people and educating them with their horticultural questions. People learn in many capacities and hands-on, working with the public at garden centers, community gardens or farmers markets is just a wonderful experience. Another rewarding piece for myself personally is my continual learning on horticulture. As a Hennepin County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, I am required and also like to complete continuing education classes.


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