Hot Plants, The Chelsea Chop, and more!
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President's Letter

May 2020 
By Michele Worden, AEMG

It’s still bitter cold as I write this.  A fire is again crackling in my cast iron stove and I am writing this in my PJ’s. What has changed since the February letter?   Well, we have had some spring-like days alternating with snow; my snowdrops and crocus have bloomed and now my early daffodils, miniature Tete-a-Tetes, are blooming.   The season is turning.

There is no reason to get dressed immediately in the time of pandemic.  Though I do try to get dressed each day, I enjoy a slow morning of coffee and office work before I engage with the day by getting dressed.  Soon, though, I hope to be springing out of bed at dawn into my gardening clothes…

I ask myself “What is the purpose of the Master Gardener Association of Northwest Michigan?” in the time of the pandemic.  I think about the Master Gardener program tagline “Helping People Grow”.  This is a time to focus on your personal growth as a gardener and to avail yourself of the educational videos posted on the Volunteer Management System (VMS).  Watching these can fulfill your education hours and deepen your gardening knowledge.  In 2020, we all still need to complete 10 educational hours.

I also think of the tag line of MGANM “Connecting a Community of Gardeners Through Learning”.  I think connection and community are more important now than ever in this time of required social distancing.    With ‘connecting and community’ in mind, we did not go the same route of many other organizations and cancel our meetings and educational speakers.   We moved them online.

The April meeting ‘Hot Plants for 2020’ was held via Zoom, an online meeting platform.   A big thank you to Robin Smillie of Garden Goods, who stepped in to tackle this topic in a new online format when our scheduled speaker was technology shy.   Robin did a great job!  It was also rewarding to see the faces of 45 members of the Master Gardener community and chat for a bit before the presentation started.  It was the most people I had seen at one time in one place since the stay home, stay safe order, and it felt good.  One benefit of virtual presentations is that many people enjoyed a glass of their favorite evening beverage while engaging, making it almost a virtual happy hour too.

We are hosting our May 5th meeting, Carolyn Thayer and ‘Gardening for Water Quality’, virtually as well.  The June meeting is a work in progress but probably that will happen, as scheduled, virtually as well.    We are working out the details.

We are using the Zoom platform for meetings.  This means we need to manage online security to prevent being hacked.  Therefore, we will not be promoting these events to the public as much as usual.  You will get a zoom meeting link in your registration confirmation when you register through our site.  Our events are free for members and still open to the public.  Our registration process asks nonmembers for the usual suggested $5 donation to register.  We will wave that for anyone who requests it if they send me an email.  There will be no questions asked, but I have to register them manually.  At the moment we are limited to 100 participants through the paid Zoom subscription.

You may have heard from Diane Brady that MSUE is waiving the required volunteer hours this 2020.  While you are not required to volunteer, I encourage you to do so where you can safely.  People need gardens, and helping people garden, whether for beauty or food, is more important than ever.    Nate Walton is working on some initiatives to connect Master Gardeners to projects like the Victory Garden Initiative and Junior Master Gardeners.  There are many virtual ways to volunteer and educate the public.

Another way to volunteer and help your community is by serving on the MGANM board. If you are interested, contact me for more information, but also consider joining our next virtual board meeting on Tuesday, June 16 at 6 pm. We will create an event for this on our website and you can register just as you do for other events. Serving on the board is collegial and fun—we laugh a lot. It’s also a positive way to have a ripple effect in both your Master Gardener community, and the broader community at large.

Finally, make sure wherever you live, you find a way to connect with plants.  Working with soil and plants is healing in so many ways and is so needed in this moment.

Thank you for all you do.

What exactly is the Chelsea Chop?


Doing the Chelsea Chop
By Nancy Popa, EMG

It looks like we’re just in time to learn something about pruning, more specifically the Chelsea Chop. Beginning in May, applying this pruning technique will not only influence size and flowering of your herbaceous plants, but it will also keep them from being top-heavy.  In the following article, Nancy tells us just how to do it!

Speaker event ‘Hot Plants for 2020’
By Michele Worden, AEMG

On May 7th, the MGANM hosted a presentation on the hottest plants for 2020. It was our first online meeting and we nailed it! Robin Smillie with Garden Goods shared her excitement on the hot plants she had ordered. Read further for more information about the presentation and the plants that made the list.

Master Gardener Coordinator's Corner

How to Volunteer While Staying Home and Staying Safe
By, Nate Walton, MSU Extension Master Gardener Coordinator

With our current statewide, “stay home, stay safe” restrictions it has been difficult to volunteer these days. Although the MG certification requirement for volunteer hours has been lifted, Nate advises that there is still a need for MG volunteers in the community and he provides us with creative ways to help in the following article.

News & Events

Ordinarily, there are so many wonderful events and workshops happening in our community that we simply cannot list them all. Please be sure to check directly with the websites and Facebook pages for these organizations and the events that they offer, especially now since many events have been cancelled or rescheduled:

Botanical Gardens at Historic Barns Park, Boardman River Nature Center, Grand Traverse Conservation District, Plant it Wild, Wild Ones, NW Michigan Invasive Species Network, NW Michigan Horticulture Research Center, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Saving Birds Thru Habitat, Benzie Conservation District, Leelanau Conservation District, and Leelanau Conservancy.


During normal circumstances, volunteers are always needed to help with setup/cleanup before and after the meetings. This can earn you extra hours in addition to the 1.5 volunteer and 1.5 CE hours that you earn just by attending the meeting. Interested volunteers can sign up in the General Event Calendar on the VMS page or by contacting Michele Worden ( or Nate Walton at 231-256-9888 or ( However, during this time of our state ordered quarantine, we are not physically meeting. Instead, we are offering the meetings via Zoom.

Tuesday, May 5th 6:00 p.m. Zoom presentation.  “Gardening for Water Quality”. Please see the “Events” tab on the website to register for the presentation.  A link will be sent with log-in information.

JUNE is pending. Members will receive an email once details have been finalized. Otherwise, please continue to check our website for updates! 

The educational meetings are open to the public.  A $5 donation from non-members is appreciated.  For more information please see the website


DEER, BUNNIES, MICE…OH MY! - Throwback 2016
By Lillian Mahaney, EMG

One of the biggest concerns that we gardeners face is keeping wildlife animals from ravaging our garden. As eco-friendly gardeners, we care about wildlife and their role in our eco-system but we also want our gardens to thrive, so we need to know how to address our concern without harming the animals. In our next article, Lillian educates us on this very subject. As it remains a top concern today, we thought it would be a good idea to share her words of wisdom once again. 

Lawn Removal by Smothering OR Creating a Landscape in a Lawn
By Cheryl A. Gross, AEMG

As it happens, the grass is not always greener after all! Having grass in your yard might not be the best eco-friendly choice. In her article discussing lawns and landscapes, Cheryl shares some options for creating a lovely landscape, using practical ecological gardening practices.


Victory Garden Emergence
By Tamara Premo, EMG

Victory Gardens have emerged once again! There was a time when Victory Gardens were seen by many Americans as their patriotic duty—during wartime. Today one could say that we are fighting a war of a different kind. In her article, Tamara discusses the history of Victory Gardens and the benefits they garner.

Photo by Tamara Premo, EMG


Winter Sowing Progress Report
By Tamara Premo, EMG

Just this past January, Tamara introduced us to her winter sowing project, using milk jugs. Her technique is easy and low cost. Since several gardeners expressed an interest at that time, we thought folks might want an update on the progress of Tam’s project. Here’s what she had to say.

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