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Master Gardeners clinics offer gardening advice

January 07, 2012|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI | alnotarianni@aol.com
  • Carole Ingram, left, gets some gardening tips from master gardeners Pat Abeles, center, and Lucy Burnett on Saturday at the City Farmers Market in Hagerstown. Master gardeners hold clinics at the market each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer


In this case, the baby was an Amaryllis bud.

But it was nonetheless disappointing to Dayley, of Greencastle, Pa., who sought advice on caring for her plant Saturday morning at the Washington County Master Gardeners free plant clinic at the City Farmers Market in Hagerstown.

The gardeners volunteer each Saturday at the market from 8 a.m. to noon, identifying plants and pests, discussing growing procedures and offering resources.

Dayley said she planted her Amaryllis bulb according to instruction. While it grew “nice, lean, gorgeous foliage,” the plant never flowered. During the fall, she kept it on her porch for late morning and late afternoon sun. Finally, she saw a bud.

Like welcoming a baby to a nursery, Dayley moved the plant into her house near a big picture window with heavy curtains that are drawn back.

“It’s not getting cold, but it’s getting afternoon sun,” she said.

Still, no flower.

“I don’t know.  I don’t know what to do with this,” Dayley told Lucy Burnett and Pat Abeles of the Washington County Master Gardeners program. “I’ve had success in gardening, but this one’s finicky.”

In a style reminiscent of the radio talk show hosts known as Click and Click, the Tappet Brothers, Burnett and Abeles tackled the problem. Use an east window. Cut the plant back. Get a smaller pot. Don’t use too much dirt. Elevate it. And wait.

“These plants just take forever to flower,” Abeles said. “If this plant is growing, it’s saying something to you. If it’s blossoming, it’s saying something to you.”

After a spirited discussion of dormancy and light, roots and water, Dayley had a distinct plan of action.

“Other people shake their heads and say, ‘Oh, we know, we know,’” Dayley said. “But what I got here is invaluable. Now, I know what to do, and I’m going to go home and do it right now.”

Abeles said Master Gardeners have been providing the plant clinic at the market “for years.” About 30 people visited Saturday morning. Each week, the clinic offers information on a different theme. This time, Burnett and Abeles provided education on poinsettia care.

Visitors received free lettuce seeds, as well as schedules for an upcoming canning class and Master Gardener training.

Burnett and Abeles said people bring samples of leaves, branches, grass, weeds and more to the plant clinic asking a variety of questions.

“They say, ‘What is this and how can I kill it?’” Abeles said. “We just try to solve any problems that have to do with horticulture.”



By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Carole Ingram, left, gets some gardening tips from master gardeners Pat Abeles, center, and Lucy Burnett on Saturday at the City Farmers Market in Hagerstown. Master gardeners hold clinics at the market each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

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