Southern Nevada Master Gardeners participated in Make a Difference Day
Master Gardeners made a difference at Cornerstone Park University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Southern Nevada Master Gardeners helped plant shade trees, aquatic shrubs and sow wildflower seeds at Cornerstone Park in Henderson as part of Make a Difference Day on October 26. Make a Difference Day is the largest national day of community service, uniting volunteers around the world on projects that improve their communities. Thousands of projects are planned each year involving corporations, communities, nonprofit organizations, entire states and individuals.
For the event, Master Gardeners donated 200 bags filled with wildflower seeds that they had collected themselves. The Master Gardener Seed Bank Project included seeds of Desert Marigold, Blanket Flower and Firecracker Penstemon that came from the Demonstration and Test Gardens located at Cooperative Extension’s Lifelong Learning Center. The seeds were used to enhance the native look of Cornerstone Park, located at 1600 Wigwam Parkway. It is a new park with a lot of bare, rocky ground.
“It was such a good feeling to know these seeds would be put to good use,” stated Anne Marie Lardeau, a Master Gardener volunteer and the point-person for the Seed Bank Project. The Cooperative Extension Demonstration Gardens similarly have a large, rocky, non-irrigated area where the selected plants grow without assistance. It is an excellent demonstration of how native wild flowers can soften a bare, rocky landscape.
“That exact scenario is what gave me the idea to introduce them to Cornerstone Park in Henderson,” explained Lardeau. About 175 of the 200 collected seed bags were used by volunteers at the Make a Difference Day event. Master Gardeners hope to expand the Seed Bank Project to other parks or disturbed areas.
“Some of these seeds are not available commercially or are very expensive for a tiny quantity,” stated Lardeau. The goal of the seed sowing project at Cornerstone Park was to grow "mother plants" in areas receiving minimal irrigation. These plants will hopefully grow larger than normal and produce an abundant crop of seeds to be carried by the wind into wider areas of the park.
Seeds from Desert Marigolds, Blanket Flower and Firecracker Penstemon were planted. The Desert Marigolds will probably have the biggest impact since they reseed easily and grow in the rockiest landscape without irrigation. A new plantlet soon sends its first yellow flower and then blooms almost year round.
“I even asked people who were in the park walking by on their own if they were interested in planting wild flower seeds,” explained Lardeau. These were people who were unaware of the event and use the park for exercise or to walk their dog. There were several enthusiastic takers who love gardening and were excited at the idea of planting wild flower seeds in the park. Passersby included families with children who were new to southern Nevada gardening.
Over 170 community and Master Gardener volunteers participated in this year’s event at Cornerstone Park. Master Gardener Plant Captains were on hand to answer questions and instruct the volunteers about how to correctly plant the trees and seeds. Master Gardener Plant Captains included Jodi Starkey, Connie Colvin, Judy Ross, Anne Marie Lardeau, Christy Mulligan, Debra Jacobson and Leta Rehn.
“I say this every year” explained Lisa Ortega, Urban Forester for the City of Henderson, “if not for the Master Gardeners, we could not do these plantings. It’s with their expertise they teach the community, by doing and showing them in a loving, caring leadership style.”
The Master Gardeners also hosted an “Ask a Master Gardener” table at the event. Master Gardeners Julie Gardener, Richard Leifried and Bill Hodson answered gardening questions and provided free horticulture publications throughout the day.
Persons interested in the Master Gardener Seed Bank Project or in touring the Demonstration and Test Gardens email Ann Edmunds, Master Gardener Program Officer, or call her at 702-257-5587 for more information.