Join us for the Joy of Gardening Conference 2024!

Treat yourself this summer to two days of education and inspiration at this year’s Oregon Master Gardener Association Joy of Gardening Conference, July 12-13 on the OSU campus in Corvallis.

Two days packed with over twenty classes, keynote speakers, and horticulture tours led by OSU faculty, you’re sure to come away with new connections and ideas for your future gardening and gardening education. Current schedule includes:

Opening Remarks: The Master Gardener Program 2024 and Beyond with Dr. Leslie Madsen

Keynote Speakers

  • 10 Cool Things We Learned from Garden Research with Sherry Sheng and Dr. Gail Langellotto
  • Oregon IPM Center: Hub of Information to Solve Pest Problems with Dr. Silvia Rondon


  • Oak Creek Center for Urban Horticulture with Nick Cavagnaro
  • Horticulture Science at OSU (Lab Tours) with Dr. Gail Langellotto
  • A Historical Tour of the OSU Campus Arboretum with Dan Blanchard


  • Soil – What It Is and How It Works with James Cassidy
  • Growing Your Home Lawn Sustainably with Dr. Alec Kowalewski
    Empowering Communities through Inclusive Leadership: Bridging Innovation, Diversity, and Well-being with Dr. Ana Lu Fonseca
  • The New USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map: A Look Behind the Scenes at How It Was Developed and What It Can (and Cannot) Tell You with Dr. Christopher Daly
  • The Bees You Must Have: Discoveries of the Oregon Bee Atlas with Dr. Andony Melathopolous
  • Growing Fruits and Berries in the Home Garden with Logan Bennett
  • New MG Training Module on Climate Change (Interactive) with Dr. Brooke Edmunds and Signe Danler
  • Hydrangea Highlights with Darren Morgan
  • Garden Trivia Live! with Nicole Sanchez
  • Top Picks for Low Water Use Gardens from the NW Plant Evaluation Trials with Heather Stoven
  • Outreach as a Master Gardener Volunteer: Activating Our Circles of Influence with LeAnn Locher
  • Garden Allies: An Introduction to Life in the Garden with Frederique Lavoipierre
  • Garden/Yard Tool Renovation: Maintenance, Sharpening, and Storage with Fred Alley
  • Resilient Gardens with Darren Morgan
  • Learn from Several Chapters Regarding Best Practices for Successful Plant Sales with Benton, Central Gorge, Yamhill, Douglas, and Tillamook Chapters
  • Best Practices for Growing Peppers and Tomatoes from Seed with Bruce Gravens
  • Junior Master Gardener Program with Jim Liskey and Kelly Noack
  • Heroines in the History of Botany with Lucretia Weems
  • Rainwater Harvesting for Landscape Use with Ann Geyer
  • Let’s Give Them Something to Buzz About with Dan Blanchard
  • Growing Onions, Leeks, and Shallots from Seed with Bruce Gravens
  • Safe and Sustainable Management of Pests in Gardens and Landscapes through IPM with Thomas Jima
  • Secrets for Growing Lilies Anywhere with Kenn Parry

Get the full schedule, learn about lodging, cost and other details, at the conference website.

Early bird registration ends June 15th!

Please share your Master Gardener County awards

Who will be the next recipients of each county’s Master Gardener of the Year, Growing and Belonging, and Behind the Scenes awards? We’re ready to take your reporting of awards.

All county-level award submissions should be made in cooperation with your local Master Gardener coordinator. Prior to selecting your counties’ winners, please be sure to review the criteria for each of the awards.

We’ll reveal the county award winners at this year’s Joy of Gardening Conference in July, alongside the incredible statewide award recipients.

How the county-level and statewide awards differ

  • The county-level award winners are selected by active Master Gardener volunteers in each county. Once counties have selected their winners, they report them to the state using the County Master Gardener of the Year award submission form.
  • The statewide award winners are selected through a competitive process at the state level. Each county may nominate one winner or winning team for each of the three awards. A statewide awards committee convened by OMGA and the Extension Master Gardener Program reviews nominations and selects the winners.

Please note that county-level winners are not automatically considered for the statewide awards. If your county wants to nominate a volunteer for a statewide award, you must do so using the statewide award nomination form. Typically, counties submit different candidates for the statewide and county awards.

How to submit your county’s award winners

All submissions must be made using the County Master Gardener of the Year award submission form. Incomplete submissions may be disqualified, so take your time and prepare your submission in advance. Again, be sure to keep the county awards criteria in mind when you’re selecting your winners and describing their contributions.

Deadline: May 15th, 2024

Nominations for 2024 statewide Master Gardener awards are open!

Who will be the next recipients of the statewide Master Gardener of the Year, Growing and Belonging, and Behind the Scenes awards? Nominations are open and we’re ready to take your submissions.

All nominations should be made in cooperation with your local Master Gardener coordinator, and make sure to review the criteria for each of the awards. Remember, these are the statewide awards, not county awards which are done locally, county by county.

We’ll reveal the winners at this year’s Joy of Gardening Conference in July, as well as all of the incredible county award recipients.

All submissions must be made using this online form. Incomplete submissions may be disqualified, so take your time and prepare your submission in advance. Again, the criteria for the awards can be found here.

Deadline: May 15th, 2024

Welcome to, and from, our new Statewide Master Gardener Manager, Dr. Leslie Madsen

After a national search, Dr. Leslie Madsen (she/her) has joined OSU Extension as the Statewide Master Gardener Manager beginning December 29th, 2023.  Dr. Madsen most recently was the Associate Director for Educational Development in the Center for Teaching and Learning at Boise State University. She is an expert in evidence-based teaching practices that are informed by emerging technologies including different learning styles in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), as they apply to formal and informal learning platforms. She is equipped to support our coordinators and volunteers with evidence-based teaching practices, support both face-to-face and distant learning, support DEI efforts across programs, conduct educational assessment, evaluation and implementation, and support various digital accessibility technologies – among many other capabilities. Welcome Dr. Madsen!

A note to Oregon’s Master Gardener Volunteers

As I’m cleaning up my garden one last time before listing my Boise house for sale, I find myself looking eagerly to the future. I love to learn, and I have so much knowledge to glean from you about gardening in a temperate, wet forest biome rather than dry, sagebrush steppe. 

Because I’m a historian as well as a gardener, I’m also thinking of the botanist I most admire, the late Alice Eastwood (1859-1953), who served as the herbarium curator at the California Academy of Sciences for 57 years. 

Here’s my favorite story about Eastwood: 

When awakened in April 1906 by the big San Francisco earthquake, Eastwood hurried down to the Academy to check on the collections. As flames licked at the building next door, the 47-year-old Eastwood scaled the banister of the broken staircase to reach the sixth-floor herbarium. Once there, she lowered 1,500 specimens—most of them type specimens—out a window. She commandeered a cart and horse and ensured the specimens stayed ahead of the flames, even as her own home burned. (Today you can find six of Eastwood’s other specimens in the Oregon State University Herbarium.) 

Not surprisingly, Eastwood became a bit of a celebrity. On Eastwood’s 80th birthday, Smithsonian agrostologist Agnes Chase wrote,  

I recall how thrilled I was in the spring of 1906 when the men here were all talking about how Alice Eastwood had saved the precious types in the California Academy Herbarium. At that time women were not admitted to the august Botanical Society of Washington, so we rejoiced not only that the types were saved but that you saved them. And not only do we admire your work. Your unfailing kindness and helpfulness to other botanists has endeared you to all of us.

Chase’s letter to Eastwood captures the fondness I already feel Oregon’s Master Gardeners—even though I’ve only met a couple dozen of you. Your generosity with your time and knowledge is such a tremendous gift to the people of Oregon. I am so impressed with the amazing work you already have done, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work alongside you. 

Eastwood also was famous for cultivating enthusiasm for gardening by building a network of garden clubs, botanists, and volunteers. Like Eastwood, I’m eager to welcome new Master Gardeners and expand our collaborations with organizations throughout Oregon. To accomplish this, I’ll need to draw on your wisdom, experience, and imagination. 

Our work together begins in the New Year. Should you want to say hello before then, the best way to reach me is via email at I’m looking forward to connecting and growing with you! 

Guide to Being a Master Gardener Volunteer: revised publication is now out

The quintessential guidebook for being an OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer has been updated and modernized. It’s available to read online and download and features all things Master Gardener, including our connection to OSU, the priorities of the program, and policies and guidelines. Access it here.

What does it mean to recertify? What are the continuing education requirements of Master Gardeners? How do we provide gardening recommendations to the general public? What is the relationship between OSU and the county-based Master Gardener Associations?

You’ll find the answers to these questions, and many more, in the updated guidebook, plus links to even more background and items to read. The new version is a more nimble, modernized version, and can easily be updated as needed. Happy reading!

You’ve got a problem, we’ve got a project. 

Is your garden home to this problematic pest? 

(Photo) Cornu aspersum (also known as Helix aspersa; European Brown Garden Snail)

The slug and snail experts at OSU want your samples for a new USDA-funded project. 

In fact, if you’re in Western Oregon with a significant number of these slimy shelled mollusks, they’d like to come pull samples every few weeks. 

Or, you can even mail them in. 

Please contact Rory Mc Donnell and his lab via email or phone for details on how to get involved. Tel: +1 541 737 6146.

Thank you Master Gardeners for helping science at OSU!

Master Gardeners, let’s play some trivia!

The Oregon Master Gardener Statewide Trivia Tournament is happening during our “quiet gardening times” of October and November 2023, and January and February 2024.  Open to OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers throughout Oregon, these five sessions offer the opportunity to learn more about specific gardening topics, have fun, and even win prizes.

  1. Register to play.
  2. Join via zoom.
  3. Connect to the trivia app (Slido) on your phone or computer.
  4. At the start of the tournament evening, you’ll be directed to the Slido app to begin competing.
  5. Multiple choice trivia, 50 questions per session.
  6. Winners will be announced live during the Zoom event.

Each session counts as one Continuing Education Unit for Master Gardener volunteers.

Did we say prizes? Yes we did. For each session, you can win gift certificates to mail-order garden companies in the PNW.

  • 1st place: $100 gift certificate
  • 2nd place: $50 gift certificate
  • 3rd place: $25 gift certificate

Winners will receive gift certificates approximately one week after each event.

Register for each event:

Let’s identify woody plants! Wednesday, October 18th, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Name that flower: herbaceous annuals & perennials, Wednesday, November 15th, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

The buzz on biologicals: biological controls in food crops, Wednesday, December 13, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Least wanted: noxious and invasive weeds in Oregon, Wednesday, January 17th, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Right place, right plant: Oregon natives in the landscape, Wednesday, February 21st, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

For questions or accessibility requests, contact Nicole Sanchez, 541-883-7131,

Braiding Sweetgrass – a review and a request from Master Gardener Donna Leveridge-Campbell

Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants has so much to offer.  And I believe other gardeners would especially appreciate this book, as I do.  It’s also available in an audio version read by the author, and as a beautifully illustrated adaptation, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. Both make this book, a gift to the co-inhabitants of Mother Earth, even more accessible.

Braiding Sweetgrass book cover with green braided grass horizontally across the cover

Dr. Kimmerer speaks from multiple perspectives as an Anishinabekwe, Potawatomi woman, a mother, a gardener, a philosopher, a botanist and professor of plant ecology, and from so many other aspects of herself.  She beautifully integrates mind, body, emotion, and spirit as she shares “healing stories that allow us to imagine a different relationship, in which people and land are good medicine for each other”.  This is a hugely important book for our times.  I hope the lessons and wisdom of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) within the stories will be incorporated into all of our lives, while avoiding cultural appropriation. 

“I hold in my hand the genius of indigenous agriculture, the Three Sisters.  Together these plants––corn, beans, and squash––feed the people, feed the land, and feed our imaginations, telling us how we might live. … a visible manifestation of what a community can become when its members understand and share their gifts.”  For example, the corn stalks provide support for the beans, the bean roots house the Rhizobium bacteria that shares nitrogen with the plants, and the squash leaves keep moisture in the soil and other plants out.  And Robin reminds us they “are fully domesticated; they rely on us to create the conditions under which they can grow.  We too are part of the reciprocity.  They can’t meet their responsibilities unless we meet ours.”

As one who loves her children, and also loves her garden, Robin lists some “loving behaviors”.  And she makes the case that “The land loves us back. … She provides for us and teaches us to provide for ourselves.  That is what good mothers do.”  Robin taught her daughters to garden “so they would always have a mother to love them, long after I am gone.” 

The author writes with a heartfelt, holistic perspective and explains complex scientific and indigenous knowledge, uniting them beautifully, in an easy-to-read style.  As she says, “We see the world more fully when we use both.”  Robin is an incredible observer and listener to nature and to other teachers, as well.  She is a humble seeker and poetic sharer of knowledge and profound wisdom. 

One of her many significant reflections is on how our thoughts and feelings are so greatly influenced by our language.  She explains that English is a “noun-based language”, and that it leads to objectifying non-human life forms.  “Only 30 percent of English words are verbs, but in Potawatomi that proportion is 70 percent.”  And the language is “a mirror for seeing the animacy of the world, the life that pulses through all things”. … “So it is that in Potawatomi and most other indigenous languages, we use the same words to address the living world as we use for our family.  Because they are our family.”

In explaining the tradition of the Honorable Harvest and the “inescapable tension” of “the exchange of a life for a life”, she asks the question, “How do we consume in a way that does justice to the lives that we take?”.  In the edition for young adults, the answer is summarized as:  “Never Take the First,  Ask Permission,  Listen for the Answer,  Take Only What You Need,  Minimize Harm,  Use Everything You Take,  Share,  Be Grateful,  Reciprocate the Gift.” 

Robin addresses many of my own concerns, moral dilemmas, and feelings of guilt as a relatively ignorant and clumsy human on this Earth, trying to decide what to do –– or not do.  “Something beyond gratitude is asked of us.”  … “The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world.”  She inspires me to discover my own gift. 

In talking about the berries and their place in ceremony she explains, “They carry the lesson, passed to us by our ancestors, that the generosity of the land comes to us as one bowl, one spoon.  We are all fed from the same bowl that Mother Earth has filled for us.  …  We need the berries and the berries need us.  Their gifts multiply by our care for them, and dwindle from our neglect.  We are bound in a covenant of reciprocity, a pact of mutual responsibility to sustain those who sustain us.  And so the empty bowl is filled.”

In each chapter the author shares metaphors and life lessons learned from plants, “our oldest teachers”, and from Indigenous interpreters.  Robin shares her journey toward greater understanding of her place in the world and the roles of humans in the web of life.  It feels like she has written to us with the informal intimacy of a caring friend.  Writing with a respectful and generous spirit, she seems to be understood and appreciated by people coming from various perspectives and levels of knowledge and awareness.

In an online conversation, Robin Wall Kimmerer spoke with Daniel Wildcat about “Indigenuity” (Indigenous Ingenuity) solutions for the Earth.  She reminds us that Indigenous people around the world “are still here” and many have the “knowledge that will bring us into the future”.  She gives me hope. 

Please read Braiding Sweetgrass and share it with others.  It’s a great read, and offers lessons and perspectives that are much-needed in these challenging times. 

—Donna Leveridge Campbell is an OSU Extension Master Gardener volunteer in Coos County and a member of the Statewide Growing & Belonging Committee

Hope’s story: Master Gardeners teach ways to create resilient landscapes that are adapted to our changing climate

“I became a Master Gardener in 2019 when I retired. I had wanted to be an MG for years but couldn’t attend class while I was working. Today, with online classes, that wouldn’t be a problem. I became a Master Gardener to learn more about plants and planting and I wanted to be part of a like-minded community. I’ve always had a scientific bent and I knew the Master Gardener program was based on science, not anecdote.

I think what I’m most proud of is that we share fact-based information with the public. I work on the helpline and am pleased that answers/help I give comes from reputable, authoritative sources, much of it from OSU.

I think as our climate changes, it’s critical that the public and Master Gardeners learn sustainable gardening practices to deal with new threats (extremes of wet and dry, cold and heat, invasive plants and insects). I am very glad to be surrounded by people who feel the same way I do.”

This is but one of the many stories of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program we’re sharing this month in honor of Dam Proud Day. On April 26, Beavers everywhere will come together to support the things we do best: transformative educational experiences and life-changing research.
We are excited to be raising support specifically for our Seed to Supper program and updating our foundational resource, the “Sustainable Gardening Handbook” to reflect current knowledge. Please join us in gathering your friends and colleagues to give to support the Master Gardener Program on Dam Proud Day, at any donation level. See you (online) April 26th!

John’s story: Serving the public while always learning

With Fajita at an OSU lecture

“My Master Gardener story began in 1998 when I retired and moved to rural Lake County, California.   wanted to make the best of the land I lived on by educating myself about growing things. Joining the California Master Gardeners started my training which has continued to this day. Working the Help Desk suited me as I enjoy contact with the public and in every 4-hour session I research something new and learn about it in the doing. 

In 2013 I moved to Salem, Oregon and immediately looked up and joined the MG program here. I needed to take the basic training over again because the growing environment is so different here in the PNW, but I enjoyed that too. Over time I have lost much of my hearing but I am lucky to have a Hearing Service Dog from Canine Companions and the Extension Office has provided accommodations including a captioned phone in the MG office. 

My first love is still the Help Desk and I have learned so much from working it over the years. In the early days both in California and Oregon we had a huge library of horticulture books. Over time the library has shrunk as we use PCs more and more in our research. And I am full of admiration for the OSU professors we hear on a regular basis. 

I am most proud of the fact that over the years I may have helped a few people sort out growing issues and plant problems. It is also my hope that I have made a small contribution to preserving the environment. “

—John Eells, Marion County Master Gardener Volunteer

This is but one of the many stories of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program we’re sharing this month in honor of Dam Proud Day. On April 26, Beavers everywhere will come together to support the things we do best: transformative educational experiences and life-changing research.

We are excited to be raising support specifically for our Seed to Supper program and updating our foundational resource, the “Sustainable Gardening Handbook” to reflect current knowledge. Please join us in gathering your friends and colleagues to give to support the Master Gardener Program on Dam Proud Day, at any donation level. See you (online) April 26th!