Out in the back garden, my citrus trees are in a blissful state of recovery. No longer trapped indoors by freezing temperatures, one might think they were on spring break, as these days of fresh balmy air filled with sun and rain have chased away all their winter blues. Meanwhile, holed up in my house, I too am in recovery with plenty of woes of my own. With my pride in shreds and more than a few doubts about the joys of becoming a certified master gardener, I fear my winter woes may not resolve so easily.
It began last week at my final master gardening class. Aready mid-way through the certification process, I’ve received seventy hours of instruction from some of the state’s finest horticultural instructors. So what stands before me are sixty hours of service behind the county extension’s master gardening help desk. And to help prepare me for this –under the guise of this lowly training class–was my most important lesson lying in wait.
It took place in the quiet hours of a cold Oklahoma morning, with phone lines grown silent with winter. The first two hours flew by without incident. But that all ended when my phone began to ring. As I listened to the problem being described, I began to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about this first caller’s question. I racked my brain for answers, only to discover that all my gardening knowledge had vacated the premises. Trying to hold on to the last vestiges of a calm façade, I hurriedly turned to the voluminous set of OSU Fact Sheets that sat on my desk, frantically flipping page after page in search of an answer for the poor soul who had the unfortunate luck to get stuck with me as their “expert.” Oh noooooo, Mr. Bill. These fact sheets do not hold all the answers. It was only then that I realized that there comes a time in every master gardener’s life when it’s time to abandon the pride of your own help desk and go crawling for your own help. When I left my desk, with tiny pieces of pride shattered all across it, I found my answer easily off the top of my trainer’s head.
There is a God…..the One that is a whole lot easier to find down on my knees, whether at the help desk…..or in my garden kneeling within the rich dirt of humus. No matter which, there is much to beware of in master gardening… as hiding under that ‘puffed’ up title I have desired for so long were some of my worst enemes — pride and honor and glory. Yes, there be dragons in yonder garden. But there’ll be no need to do battle on my own. The help desk will help slay them, or at last beat them into submission.
Editors Note: Bill Geer is Oklahoma County Extension Director