Master Gardener

The shirt had never been worn. A green polo, it hung in the closet still looking new even though it had been there for almost a year.

I had signed up for this weeks ago. Before I had the chance to talk myself out of it.

As I pulled the shirt out of the closet I gently touched the embroidery on the front.

Master Gardener Program

It made me both proud and scared to see those words on my shirt. Memories swirled around in my head.

I had tried for many years to get into the master gardener program but the timing had never been right until last year. It took some major juggling to fit into my schedule. Every Tuesday was a 3 hour class with an hour commute each way, plus an additional 20 hours of community volunteer work.

I loved every moment of the 17 weeks it took to complete the program. I learned so much and realized I knew so little.

In order to stay certified as a master gardener you are required to do 25 hours volunteer time and 12 hours continuing education each year.

Those volunteer hours were the cause of my anxiety today. I had signed up to work the Ask a Master Gardener table at the Home & Garden show.

The voices in my head were telling me that I didn’t know enough to even be a master gardener…much less answer questions! And I believed them.

There was a reason that this shirt had hung in the closet for a year and never been worn.

Less than a month after I became a certified master gardener I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Seemingly overnight, I forgot what I had learned in that class. I still had all the books and resources they had given me but there was no space in my brain.

Fear of ClothingI pulled the shirt on over my head and looked nervously in the mirror. A perfect fit. Part of me had hoped there would be some wardrobe malfunction that would prohibit me from wearing it and having to advertise myself as a master gardener at the show.

Despite the voices in my head, I clipped on the name badge that made it even more obvious that I had been through the training. Too bad that badge couldn’t make me any smarter.

The traffic was light as I drove to the fairgrounds. Several times I thought about turning around and going back home.

A vendor pass got me through the gate and directions to the master gardener booth.

At the booth, I was greeted by a familiar face with a big smile and some much needed direction. We arranged the literature on the tables and put the banner in a more prominent place. Our booth included the master gardener speakers that gave educational seminars all weekend.

A few more tweaks and we were open for business.

Much to my dismay I discovered that my shift was short one master gardener. I was one of only 2 master gardeners and the intern working with us informed me that the other one was prone to wandering off. She was right.

I had purposely chosen the Friday morning shift in hopes that there wouldn’t be as many visitors as on the weekend. It proved to be a good choice, for the first half hour we didn’t have a single visitor.

Then I spotted them. An older couple headed straight for the table.

The voices in my head were screaming now but there was nowhere to run. I took a deep breath, smiled and waited for the question.

“I have some questions about peppermint”, he said with a perplexed look on his face.

I was stunned for a minute. He was asking about peppermint. I know peppermint, I grow peppermint. I knew the answers!

We had a lively discussion about how to plant peppermint and shared our adventures of having it pop up in the garden uninvited.

The voices in my head were wrong….I did know something after all.

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