Coconino Master Gardener Association

Currently, warblers of several species are migrating through Flagstaff towards Canada and beyond. The Yellow Warblers, like this little guy are often an exception. They frequently choose to remain in Flagstaff throughout the summer. All of the warblers are busily searching the innermost branches of shrubs and trees for insects.
Photo by Cindy Murray.

Welcome to the Coconino County Master Gardeners' Association Blog. The mission of the Coconino Master Gardener Program is to support the University of Arizona by providing researched-based information on environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping to the public. The program creates a corps of well-informed volunteers, and delivers quality horticultural education programs adapted to our regional high elevation environment. The mission of the association is to provide support for those volunteers and Master Gardener graduates, continuing education, and opportunities to participate in community programs that increase the visibility and participation in the Master Gardener Program.
On this site you will find gardening news, links, a calendar for local events, volunteer opportunities, book reviews, agenda/minutes for our association monthly meetings, and association documents and contacts.
The Coconino County Master Gardener Association was founded in 2009 by a small group of master gardeners with the help of Hattie Braun the Director of the MG Program. After several small meetings it was opened to all master gardeners on May 21st, 2009. Meetings are held monthly on the 2rd Thursday of each month from 6:30pm - 8:30pm. We meet at the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church (1601 N. San Francisco). The agenda usually includes continuing education and a short business meeting. Watch this blog for the agenda and minutes for all meetings. Contacts for the association (officers and committee chairs) are listed at the bottom of this blog.

Reporting Master Gardener Hours

All master gardener trainees and certified master gardeners need to report their hours.
Beginning in 2010 certified master gardeners need to have 6 Education hours and 12 Volunteer hours in order to maintain certification.The on line reporting system allows you to report Education or Volunteer hours.
If you have any questions or concerns about the new reporting system, please contact Crys Wells or Hattie Braun. Their contacts are listed at the bottom of the blog under
Link to reporting

Ideas for hours------
--Attend monthly meetings
--Work on an association committee
--Work at an informational booth for the Master Gardeners
--Be a speaker about gardening topics at a variety of venues

--Host a garden tour
--Work at the home show
--Work at a MG site (Olivia White Hospice, the Arboretum, Riordan Mansion, or school gardens (many others)). Check out the Assoc. Doc. & Forms under Volunteer Sites.
--Work in the Extension office
--Write an article for the newspaper column -Gardening Excetera
-Volunteer with the Seed Library
Be creative! There are many ways to fulfill your hours. Just remember for volunteering it needs to be a non-profit endeavor or an approved for profit site.

Change in Contact Information

Have you moved or changed your e-mail address, but would still like to be contacted about high elevation gardening information from the Extension? The Coconino County Extension Master Gardener Program has a site that will let you change your information on-line.

Click here to change your contact information!

Event Calendar

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/17/11

Tam Nguyen

I never thought that a pure, white diamond really existed. I laughed when my Dad told me: “Come on, sweety, we are going to see the diamond!” I said to him, “It will not make us full or make money. I want to sleep more! I want to get up late and lie with my warm blanket.” But he still got me up and took me out into the yard. He gave me a glass of hot tea and pointed to the droplets on the leaves, saying “Those are all the pure diamonds”

The early mornings in the highlands of Viet Nam are cool and fresh with mists hanging in midair. The sun peaks through the coffee leaves, casting shadows on the ground, as though the sun in waltzing through the morning.

There were dew drops on the leaves. They were beautiful, glittering in the early morning sun. I played with them, collecting all the tiny tear drops on my glass. I wonder why we had the dew drops because my Dad had not watered the trees yet.

They came from the air, an essence. The mists made them when the temperature and humidity were just right. The process has been working all night before while I was sleeping, relaxed and enjoying my dreams. The earth was still working hard.

While I was playing with the dew drops, my Dad told me about the tear drops. He told me whenever I understand about meaning of a tear drop, I will have an different angle on life. I would appreciate how much life has given me so many wonderful things. The tear drop from mother’s eyes will be forever. She always cares for her children and her family. The sweaty drop from father will be different because he will work and protect his family and provide the food and a house to live. The impurity of sweat and tears is purified by the love of a mother and father.

It was made a pure diamond. It was without price for value. I watched the colors of dew drops with different colors. One is pure, one is have colorful, and another glitters. The dew drops never break down. They just break into two other tear drops when I try to cut it and when I fold the leaf together the tear drop will come together. It was a game that did not last long for me because the sun came up, and all of them disappeared. They dried out.

The value is understanding it! It came from the ideas. We named the dew drop a diamond. The talent of human is one of elements make difference of world. The pure diamond never has the value as the value of working to change the value of world.

The molecules of dew are so wonderful because of flexible of form. They begin from water molecules, and from there they form dew, snow, ice, and water. All these things are process of water to change from water to gas, liquid, solid. Playing with dew drop was a game for me since I was a little girl at country village. Dew drop was evaporated just wonder for me that because of the sun, and the sun was seem as an enemy for dew drop. I was hearing my Dad tell me a story more than listening to him the meaning which he tried to tell me. Years later, I comprehend it. My Dad kept my childhood full of story. It did not make full my stomach of food. But dew drop gave me a wonderful game and a point to thinking. I appreciated my Dad took me out into the yard at early morning and show me dew.

The wonder when I came to Flagstaff in the winter. I looked out from window at the snow, the ice, the crystals, the icicles. It was field of diamonds. The sky was blue. Snow danced with light from sun bright and clear. I opened the door. I freeze-dried. I ran back get mittens, hat, coat, gloves. No more dew drop but crystals.

Tam Nguyen is a Master Gardener and a student at NAU and The Literacy Center. She is taking her oath of citizenship on December 19. Dana Prom Smith edits GARDENING ETCETERA, emails at, and blogs at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/11/11

Dana Prom Smith

Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” More importantly, Georges Braque, the famous 20th century French Cubist, said: “In art, progress lies not in extension, but in a knowledge of limitations.” So it is with gardening in the high country. If we don’t know our limitations, we’re in trouble, but if we do, then we can have beautiful gardens.

Now, some local negativists gripe and whine about the limitations of gardening in Flagstaff, fondly recalling other climes and cultures where “all you had to do was stick a plant in the ground.” Now, those fondly-recalled climes are often hot, humid, sticky, buggy, and swathed in mosquitoes. More important than their short memories of yucky climates is their tendency to “look at the present through a rear-view mirror” to quote Marshall McLuhan. Lot’s wife also stole a fond rear-view glance at Sodom and Gomorrah as she fled their destruction and was turned into a pillar of salt (Gen 19:26.)

Rear-view, salt-preserved people aside, gardening is a tutor for the way inevitability and necessity beget creativity. We all work within limits, and it’s important to know them. Freedom and responsibility are always limited, such as being born male or female. This awareness of limitations applies not only to art and life itself, but also to gardening in Flagstaff.

Although gardens are human constructions, as are paintings, they’re extensions of the wild, or else they won’t work. The wilderness is the testing grounds for gardens.

Braque began his career painting landscapes in 1908; however, he, alongside Picasso, discovered the advantages of painting still lifes instead. Braque explained that he, “began to concentrate on still-lifes, because in the still-life you have a tactile, I might almost say a manual space… This answered to the hankering I have always had to touch things and not merely see them.”

Braque likened the genius of gardening to a form of art. It’s reaching out to touch, hear, taste, and smell, to bring life up close and personal. Seeing often keeps things at a distance, as in “over there,” almost as an abstraction. However, if something is tangible, it is limited to time and circumstance. As Robert Frost said, “I play tennis better because the net is there.”

Rather than importing plants from out of our histories or imaginations that don’t belong in Flagstaff, it’s far better to use plants that work in Flagstaff. In gardening as in everything, we can never fully trust the advice of people who anticipate making money off their advice. It’s called caveat emptor, buyer beware. It’s not that they can’t be trusted, it’s that their advice needs to be checked. The late President Reagan said, “Trust and verify.”

Most of us have the greatest-ever research tool available sitting somewhere in our homes or at work. It’s called the Internet. The things to look for in the search are climate zones, last and first frosts, length of growing season, water, soil, and so forth. Perhaps, the best guide for gardening in the high country is Busco and Morin’s Native Plants for High Elevation Western Gardens. It’s the real skinny on plants suitable for Flagstaff’s gardens.

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. If we take our cues from our environment, we can have splendid gardens in Flagstaff that will rival gardens anywhere. It’s all a matter of accepting the limitations inherent in the beauty of our environment. We’re not necessarily limited to native plants, but if we go beyond, we have to make sure they’re adaptable and not invasively toxic. As it is psychologically, so it is horticulturally, it’s authenticity, being faithful to ourselves and our place, not pretending to be someone else somewhere else, or, worse yet, wanting to be someone else somewhere else.
Martin Buber, the Jewish theologian and philosopher, told the story of an aged pious man, Rabbi Susya, who became fearful as death drew near. His friends chided him, "What! Are you afraid that you'll be reproached that you weren't more like Moses?" "No," the rabbi replied, "that I was not Susya."

Dana Prom Smith © Copyright 2011
Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, can be reached at and blogs at

Friday, December 9, 2011

3rd Annual Coconino Master Gardener Assoc. Christmas Party

Thank you to all who participated in our 3rd annual Christmas Party. Special thanks to Julie Holmes for hosting this year. A great meal was enjoyed by all and a fun time with the "white elephant gift exchange". Irene Matthews is still looking for another gift.

Looking for a gift for the gardener on your list? Calendars for 2012 are still available at the Cooperative Extension, Warner's, Native Plant & Seed, and the downtown CSA.

Our first meeting for 2012 will be in January 12, at 630pm, at the Shepherd of the Hills Church. The monthly lecture will be on the History of Farming in Flagstaff and the speaker is Meredith Hartwell. Come join us. We will again be collecting dues for the 2012 CMGA membership.

Last of all, don't forget to add all your (volunteer & education) hours to the blog so Crys Wells can come up with totals for 2011. Her reports help justify the support we get from the County Board of Supervisors. The higher the numbers the better.

The seed catalogs have already begun to arrive and before you know it we will be knee deep in gardening again. Looking for something to do in the down time? The CMGA and MG Program has already begun work on the Highlands Garden Conference next fall - watch the blog for their meetings. Faith Brittain has agreed to head up the Home Show for 2012 and she will need help with planning and manning the booth in March.

Loni Shapiro
Coconino Master Gardener Association

Monday, December 5, 2011

Highlands Garden Conference Meeting

Hello Master Gardeners,

We will be having another meeting about the upcoming AZ Highlands Garden Conference for 2012. The next meeting will be on December 13th at noon at the Cooperative Extension (2304 N. 3rd St). Bring your lunch and help us brainstorm next year's conference theme.

Jo-Anne Barcellano
AmeriCorps VISTA Member
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
The University of Arizona
928-774-1868 ext 100

Hydroponics Classes in Tucson

The Controlled Environment Ag Center in Tucson is hosting a crop production intensive January 2-8, 2012.

New in 2012 – Three Intensive Options!
January 2 – 6, 2012 Intensive Focused on Tomato Production
January 6 – 8, 2012 Intensive Focused on Lettuce Production
January 2 – 8, 2012 Combined Intensive: Both Tomatoes & Lettuce

Hands-on intensive training in hydroponic crop production focusing on tomatoes and/or lettuce
Trainings, balancing classroom and greenhouse time, are provided by professionals in the growing fields of Hydroponics and Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA)

Round Table Discussion with Top Greenhouse Engineers
Attendance is limited, resulting in unique and expanded contact time
with successful agriculturists and educators

Tomatoes: Patricia Rorabaugh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor/Hydroponic Specialist, The University of Arizona
Lettuce: Myles D. Lewis, M.S., Entrepreneur/Grower, Arizona Vegetable Company
Special Guest Speaker: Dr. Merle Jensen, Consultant: Greenhouse Hydroponic Crop Production

Topics will include:
Greenhouse Basics
Crop Layout
Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Crop Maintenance
Plant Nutrition
Food Safety

Registration Fees
Tomato Intensive: $999.00 early /$1049.00 regular
Instructor: Patricia Rorabaugh, Ph.D.
Lettuce Intensive: $499.00 early /$549.00 regular
Instructor: Myles D. Lewis
Entire/Both Intensives: $1299.00 early /$1499.00 regular
Discount: $50 off Second Registration in group

Location and Information

The University of Arizona
Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC)
1951 East Roger Road – Tucson, Arizona USA
Ph: 520-626-9566

Registration Form available at our website:

Spring Master Gardener Class 2012

We will be offering a 2012 spring Master Gardener class.
The class will start on February 8 and run thru May 16. It will be held Wednesday afternoons from 1:00 to 4:30 at the East Flagstaff Community Library. If you know of anyone that is interested in the class, please have them contact me ASAP.
There will be limited space in this class for those of you that want to make up missed classes. Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.

Hattie Braun
University of Arizona
Master Gardener Program Coordinator
Coconino County Cooperative Extension
2304 N. 3rd St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86004

Phone: 928-774-1868 x 170
FAX: 928-774-1860

CMGA Accomplishments for 2011

1. 47 Members of the association for 2011.
Included 10% discounts for Viola's, Warner's and Native Plant & Seed
71% Master Gardeners, 11% trainees, 18% guests participated in monthly meetings.

2. Move to a new site - Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church. Provided $250 reimbursement for use of facility.

3. Changed bi-laws to reflect new membership rules.

4. Organized the MG Projects with a committee to establish rules, review applications from those interested in MG help, and a method for approval. Several new projects approved in 2011.

5. Participated in the Flagstaff Home Show with a booth and many lectures.

6. The Garden Club officially became part of the CMGA. A listserv established for contacting members. Many garden tours provided throughout the summer. Bulk Nolo Bait offered for sale for members.

7. Established a EIN tax number and PO Box for the association. Created a logo for the association to use with membership cards and correspondence.

8. New bank account established at the National Bank of Arizona.

9. Continued participation in Sunday and Wednesday Flagstaff Community Markets.

10. Established a grant for Master Gardener Projects
Two given this year to Sunshine Rescue Mission and the YMCA ($150 each)

11. Sponsored the fall Arboretum at Flagstaff newsletter ($250) and included an article about the association and the MG Program.

12. Fundraising included memberships and our 2nd Annual Calendar for sale throughout the community. Photos were of gardens throughout Coconino County. Many were from the Native Plant Society's annual contests.

13. Provided 10 monthly lectures for Master Gardeners and the community at large. Additional programs provided by other Master Gardeners through an informal speakers bureau.

14. Established a listserv for communications from the association. Over 100 added to this list.

15. Held an annual Recognition Picnic and a Christmas Party.

Loni Shapiro
Coconino Master Gardener Association

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gardening Excetera Column 12/3/11

Cris Wischmann

I’m a slow learner. It took five years for me to realize that trees other than pinyon and juniper won’t grow at my Leupp Road address. I planted over two hundred trees and shrubs from the Arizona State Land Department around the perimeter of my four acres as a windbreak, and supported them with a drip line for water. Only the Russian Olives lasted the full five years, before the rabbits and voles (yes, voles not moles) destroyed the limbs and roots. After twenty years here, I have developed an admiration for the native trees that survive temperatures ranging from minus 20 to 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit with very little water. Ten years ago over 60 pinyon trees died on my four acres, succumbing to bark beetles and drought. They provided fuel for the woodstove. And now the junipers are riddled with mistletoe.

Underneath the standing dead trees in this area, though, the wildflowers and blue grama grass are thriving. And so is the wildlife that relies on the grasses. I decided to minimize my gardening (and labor and expenses) and planted flowers in two beds in front of the house, and in several barrels in the back yard. I also noticed what my neighbors were growing successfully and chose perennials well suited to this area.

Classes offered by Master Gardeners at the Community College gave me suggestions for placement of plants for efficient use of water. I was so proud of the results at the end of the summer and looked forward to the following spring.

And in the spring, the plants returned, but didn’t get as big or fill out as I had hoped. Then I noticed lots of rabbits and fenced off the flowers beds with chicken wire. That seemed to solve the problem. Although some flowers still disappeared, I didn‘t mind sharing with the critters I enjoyed watching from the front porch. So I bought new plants each year to add different colors, and replaced plants that didn’t thrive, and apologized for the chicken wire when entertaining guests.

This spring the chicken wire failed me. The re-emerging plants were being eaten down to the dirt. Those cute little chipmunks I liked to watch had multiplied and were voracious eaters. The big catmint plants changed from miniature NAU domes to tall celery stalks in a week. I put plastic milk jugs around the plants, sprinkled commercial repellants, and spread dog poop in my manicured beds. I added pungent plants like mints, lavenders, and marigolds. These activities did not work and my friends were getting tired of my frenzied rants about chipmunks. When the little pests ate all the leaves off my new Virginia Creeper in addition to all the flowers off the marigolds, I finally went to the experts.

I emailed my problem to Dana Prom Smith and asked for suggestions. He had none, but forwarded my query to Janice Busco, who replied with several recipes for remedies. All would necessitate a trip to town for ingredients except for one. It required Castor Oil, and I had a quart of the stuff. I mixed one-fourth cup of castor oil with a pint of warm water, added a squirt of dish soap, shook it up and sprayed it on the leaves, bare stems, and ground of my flower beds. And in three days, the perennials were above ground, and the one remaining trailer of Virginia creeper was still intact. Success! Major problem solved! I shared the solution with a neighbor who was also losing more plants than usual this year.

As I write this report, there’s still enough summer left to allow the garden plants to flower. I just have to remember to reapply the castor oil mixture after each rain. Then I can get to my favorite activity, sitting on the front porch just above the flower bed and watching the wildlife, including the rabbits and chipmunks.

I learned a lot this summer. I just hope I remember to get the castor oil mixture on the ground in March next year before the chipmunks notice that it’s spring again.

Cris Wischmann, a Flagstaff resident since 1970, is a sometime mathematics instructor. Dana Prom Smith, editor of GARDENING ETCETERA, blogs at, and emails at