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Giving gardening a green thumbs up

Over a year ago, Laura Kitchen and her husband, Ron, relocated to Denver from Chicago upon retirement. They purchased a house with a backyard a half an acre large.
“Our yard needed to be landscaped,” said Kitchen. “We really wanted to do the work ourselves.”
Kitchen can now share that do-it-yourself goal.
Along with 29 other people, Kitchen has been taking a master gardening class offered through the Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Service.
Kevin Starr, extension director, said the class is important for people who are interested in horticulture, which is the study of the science or art of cultivating fruits, vegetables, flowers, ornamental plants or a garden.
“It’s important that individuals get essentially important information through this class to make good decisions when buying horticultural products or purchasing services,” said Starr.
He added that the classes, which run from November through February, focuses on home horticulture.
“There are three goals of the class,” said Starr. “First, a person who’s taken the class will make successful choices regarding purchases and hiring of services. Second, they’ll make cost-efficient choices and finally, they’ll make decisions on products that are environmentally friendly.”
Starr estimated that of the 29 members signed up for the current class, two-thirds are from Denver, like Kitchen.
The class also attracts people from other areas as well.
Robby Robson, from Cherryville, is planning a move to Texas in the near future.
“I’m going to buy an older house down there that needs landscaping and I’m going to do the work myself,” he said. “I love to play in the dirt.”
The class, which totals 40 hours, utilizes volunteer teachers who speak on different subjects.
Marta Carlson, owner of Paradise Gardens Garden Center in Denver, spoke on the topic of “annuals, perennials, herbs, bulbs and more.”
“I took the class last year,” she said. “I’m giving back my time this way as a volunteer and sharing my passion for horticulture.”
While students of the program get valuable horticulture information, the county’s cooperative extension service adds to their volunteer roles.
“Once participants go through the class, they can volunteer in different areas including 4-H and the extension’s advisory groups,” said Starr.
He added that with the amount of people (like Kitchen) that have relocated to the Denver area, there’s an increased interest in home horticulture.
“People are interested in gardening and maintaining an important investment that is their home,” he said.
The work on the Kitchen’s back yard has already began according to Laura.
“The class is teaching me how to garden in different soils including red clay, which I call red concrete,” she said. “I also needed more information on flowers and bushes before I go on any further.”

For more information on the master gardening classes, call Kevin Starr at the cooperative extension office at (704) 736-8452. The next classes will start this coming November and there is a fee which covers materials.
by Jon Mayhew

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