Master Gardener

Master gardener Jo Ann Ostrander works on the trellis at the Jonas Library. 

Nine Master Gardeners who volunteer in Lincoln County were presented with Time of Service Awards. Together, they have 90 years of experience.

Master Gardeners reported 764 hours of volunteer service in Lincoln County last year. The group is responsible for upkeep and creation of gardens throughout the county.

“Rose Lady” Jo Ann Ostrander has volunteered with the Master Gardener Association in Lincoln County for 20 years. Other members depend on her for all things relating to roses. Ostrander, a retired elementary school teacher, is president of the Cleveland-Lincoln County Rose Society and oversees the upkeep of the rose garden at the Jonas Library in Lincolnton.

Barb Misner has been a Master Gardener since 2003. She brought her experience to North Carolina by way of Pennsylvania and Georgia, where she served on the state Master Gardener Boards. Misner has a certification in Landscape and Garden Design from the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. In addition to volunteering her time as gardener, Misner has worked with Habitat for Humanity for 10 years. She volunteers at the ReStore in Denver and is the landscaping liaison for completed houses.

Much of Debbie Beck’s volunteer work focuses on yard cleanups and the Jonas Library Rose Garden. She came to North Carolina from Florida with scant knowledge of what she could grow in red clay. Former Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Director Kevin Starr encouraged her to take the Master Gardener course, which she has taken four times.

Mary Ann Pliskowski started gardening young. She joined the Master Gardener Association in 2010 when she retired to Denver. Most of Pliskowski’s plants are started from seed or from propagation. Pliskowski has been involved with the farmer’s market, installation of the Shanklin Library garden and rain garden, the Mundy House herb gardener, and creating a pollinator garden at the Rock Springs Nature Preserve. She also volunteers at East Lincoln Christian Ministries and is a member of the Westport Garden club.

A plant sharing tradition, started by Heather Cieslinski’s grandmother, has created what she calls a “special kind of bond” within her family. She’s spent time volunteering at the Shanklin Library and the Mundy House gardens.

“I enjoy learning from the more knowledgeable Master Gardeners and going on field trips,” Cieslinski said.

Byron Bahr and Candace Crowley have served in leadership positions in the Master Gardener Association. Both have assisted with the gardens at the Shanklin Library and Sally’s YMCA.

One of Bev Phelps’ special interest as a Master Gardener is edible landscapes. She helped with the community garden at Sally’s YMCA in Denver that yielded produced that was donated to Christian Ministries. Phelps has helped with many projects in the county. She named the cleanup/beautification at the Jonas Library garden, Amy’s House and at the home of a local World War II veteran among her favorites.

Phelps has served as President of  the Lincoln County Master Gardener Association from formation in 2009 until 2018 and has been a member of the East Lincoln Garden Club for 12 years. She and her husband volunteer for the meal delivery program for East Lincoln Christian Ministries.

“Even after taking the Master Gardener Course as many times as I have, five,” Phelps said. “I still feel there is so much to learn about gardening in general, and especially in this challenging area.”


20 years – Jo Ann Ostrander

15 years – Barbara Misner

10 years – Debbie Beck, Byron Bahr, Candace Crowell, Bev Phelps

5 years – Heather Cieslinski, Mitzi Malcolm, Mary Ann Pliskowski

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.