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On the Other Side of the Garden Fence

Every once and a while there is profound merit in checking out what is on the other side of our “garden fence.” We find new plants, new building materials, new ideas, and new concepts that we can bring back to our own gardens. Just incorporating one of those new things into our own garden can sometimes feel like we’re in a whole new space.

Manito Gardens in Spokane, WA

That was very evident to me last week as I explored Manito Gardens in Spokane, WA, as part of a pre-conference event for the National Master Gardener Coordinator’s Conference. I saw new plants, like this spruce whose identity I neglected to record.


I saw familiar plants combined in ways that seemed new and different.

 familiar plants

I saw old favorites that suddenly and surprisingly made me homesick for my Virginia garden.


While it was in part refreshing to see new colors and textures, it was overwhelming to realize there is still so much to learn! There was a lesson to be learned in this garden visit — we have to be careful to avoid staying so long in our own garden that we forget there is a whole wide world out there!

And so it was for the National MG Coordinator’s Conference. The opportunity to visit with other state program coordinators opened my eyes to the possibilities we have for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program. I brought back great resources to share with agents and program coordinators that will strengthen how we manage and administer our volunteer programs. Hearing from local program managers that attended the conference reminded me of the things we do well, our connection to people and plants in our communities, and the passion that we all share for gardening.

So, when you have ventured beyond you own garden fence, don’t you tend to come home, walk around your own little corner of the world, and contemplate? You see the things that are wonderful and special to you, like the flowering almond that was my dad’s mother’s or the daffodils from my mother’s mother. Then there are the surprises that have really worked well in the soil and light that you have, like the saponaria that thrives in the cracks of the garden wall or the clematis that climbs the serviceberry. There may be a few things that really don’t belong in the garden any more, maybe some plants that have never been in the right place, like the blue hollies under the oak tree. Sometimes, we even realize that our garden is just right. Regardless, we don’t know until we gain perspective. Have you been on the other side of your garden fence lately?

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About sdorn

Sheri is the State Coordinator for the Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program and Extension Specialist for Consumer Ornamentals. When she is not traveling about the state of Georgia admiring the work of Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteers, she spends time in her own (real and virtual) gardens.

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