More than 170 years ago, a woman named Gertrude Jeckyll was born in Mayfair, London. Eighty-nine years later, she died. Gertrude filled the years in between to the brim. She created a line of flower vases, and she documented fading facets of 19th century life. Gertrude published more than 300 photos. She wrote more than 15 books and 1,000 articles. Gertrude was a painter.

She also created more than 400 gardens. Most of Gertrude’s gardens were in Europe; a few were in North America. She was among the first in her field to consider the color, texture and experience of gardens in her designs.

“There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give impression of beauty and delight,” she said.

I am glad to know Gertrude understood the plight of Nevada gardeners. Our spot of ground comes with challenges. Its organic matter content is often less than 1 percent. Because of this, Nevada soil has a decreased ability to absorb and store water, hold plant nutrients and support soil biota. Some consider this the biggest obstacle to gardening in our area.

However, with research-based horticulture information, Nevada gardeners can tame our ground, producing beauty and delight.

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension is a great source of science-based gardening and landscaping information. Home gardeners can call, email or stop by the office for free consultations. Or, attend Grow Your Own, Nevada! Program classes, offered twice each year, or Gardening in Nevada: Bartley Ranch Program classes, offered annually in spring.

Cooperative Extension also offers a Master Gardener Training Program. It is designed for a special kind of gardener, one who not only wants to improve their own landscape, but also wants to volunteer in the community.

In this program, master gardener volunteer trainees learn from industry experts. Trainees also attend hands-on lab sessions. These opportunities will allow volunteer trainees to apply their newly gained research-based horticulture knowledge in real-life situations.

Hands-on learning is central to the program. This is because, as Gertrude said, “A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.”

To ensure high-quality learning experiences in class and to build skilled, confident volunteers who will actively serve the community after class ends, the student-to-instructor ratio is low. Applicants are interviewed and selected based on program needs and availability to volunteer. For information, sign up for our interest list.

No matter if you garden with us as a master gardener volunteer or in a home, school or community garden, enjoy the gift of gardening, and remember we are here to help.

As Gertrude said, “The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but grows to the enduring happiness that the love of gardening gives.”

Andrews, A. 2016, Nevada Gardeners Tame Desert, Grow Beauty and Delight, Reno Gazette-Journal

Learn more about the author(s)