Gardening as We and Our Gardens Age

“Gardening as We and Our Gardens Age” was the program topic for the March Chilton County Master Gardener meeting. Mike Rushing, Jefferson County Master Gardener, gave an informative and entertaining program on how we can continue to enjoy gardening as we age and experience changes in our abilities. We should evaluate changes in our gardens such as mature trees that create shade and perhaps remove a few or limb them up to provide more sun. He told us to eliminate plants that we consider high maintenance, plants that do not perform well for us, and plants that are dead or dying. Be sure to keep those plants that thrive. Another suggestion was to create smaller garden areas that one can reasonably maintain. Mike also suggested hiring someone to do the tasks you do not enjoy and to work smarter not harder.


Sharing our Journey to 501(c) 3

On March 8, CCMGA members Steve McAnally, Sondra Henley, Harriett Jackson, and  Susan Cleckler attended the Autauga County MGA’s evening meeting. They were asked to present how the Chilton County MGA went about obtaining their 501 (c) 3 status.
The group met several times to develop a presentation Power Point and manual. Thanks to Steve McAnally the PPT was colorful, animated and easy to understand. He went the extra mile adding links and suggested resources.
The presentation was well received, and the CCMGA group was encouraged to “get the word out”.


February Awards Meeting

Our February meeting is the time of year we present our awards. But as our usual procedure, we had our program first, which was presented by David Doggett, a Jefferson County MG and a tour guide at Aldridge Gardens in Birmingham. His program and great PowerPoint was on the Aromi Azalea. This was a very in-depth and interesting program. The Aromi Azalea may be seen at Aldridge Gardens. Thank you, Mr. Doggett,
for the presentation.

Our awards were as follows:
Nominees for MASTER GARDENER OF THE YEAR: Alice Broome and Lee and Wally Walters- winner: ALICE BROOME
PROJECT OF THE YEAR: Habitat for Humanity Project and Phase 4 of Chilton County Extension Office landscape- winner: PHASE 4
TOP TEN HOURS: First Place: Tied Harriett Jackson, 305 hours and Alice Broome 304.25 hours
Second Place: Alan Reed, 237.5 hours          Third Place: Audrey Giles 227.5 hours
Others in TOP TEN HOURS: Sondra Henley, Pat Farmer, Trisha Williams, Joyce Lawson, and Lee Walters.
TOP INTERN HOURS: Susan Cleckler,  258.75 hours
STAR AWARDS: BRONZE- Donna Babin, Susan Cleckler, Faye Collins, Skip Coulter, Lattie Hardy, Spencer Hardy, Joyce Lawson, Sherry Ray,
Elaine Webb, and Elizabeth York.
GOLD-Anita McGhee and Ann Moore
EMERALD: Sondra Henley
GOLD: Imogene Bresse, Jimmy Knowles, and Mildred Knowles
Also recognized was HELPLINE COORDINATOR Lanell Baker and Debbie Housner and Larry Jones. Lanell received a Gold pin as coordi-
nator and Debbie and Larry received a Bronze pin for working 3 days on the  helpline.
We had 30 in attendance, with 3 visitors: Teresa Freeman, our Intern-in-waiting; Nelson Wynn, our County Agent; and our speaker, David

Here is a slideshow of photos from the awards program.

Composting in the New Year

Our January meeting for 2018 got off to a great start, despite the snow and terrible flu season we are having.  Our President, Sondra Henley read her Presidents Message 2018.  She was also presented with a gift for her leadership as president for 2017.

Our new Vice President, Susan Cleckler, introduced the speakers for today’s program. Rose McCauley and Paula Seamon are  from Autauga County and  both have an Advanced MG Certificate in Vermicomposting and Composting. They gave a very good program on backyard composting, raising worms for composting, and how to reduce, reuse, and recycle everyday items from around the house.

Rick Miller presented his ideas of building and maintaining a greenhouse. Many of the members seemed very interested in this. There will be more information in the near future.

2018 President’s Message

Sondra Henley President


Thank you for putting your trust in me to administrate and lead another year. Having met with the Board to review the activity opportunities and the 2018 proposed budget, CCMGA’s progress amazes me.

In 2006, twelve years ago, I took the MG Class. I too wondered how and where I would achieve those 50 certification hours. When one reviews the Activities List you can understand why we say we partner with ACES. They need us and we need them. ACES will arrange education in QuickBooks, Word, Excel, Power Point, Publisher and Photos for us this year. CCMGA has members that are MG representatives on various committees associated with ACES and Chilton County.

Not only is our partnership with ACES important but our CCMGA projects are too. This year we plan to put a permanent cover over the Shade Garden at the CREC site and finish Phase 5 at the Demo Garden located at the Extension Office. Phase 5 will be located at the backside of the office building. This bed will house hydrangeas and other plant material.

Our commitment to host the 2019 AMGA Conference will cost us time and energy as we begin to put plans in place. We will be building tabletops and stenciling them with checker boards. Contracts must be signed with food and other vendors. Silent Auction items must be gathered and signage made. Speakers must be scheduled. Decorations must be planned and design executed for each conference activity.

Along with our projects, we have fund raisers to organize. This spring we will host a “Garage Sale Type” event including a plant sale. As you bring in your new, don’t forget to bring us your old. Items that are gently used and in good repair are needed, including clothes and shoes. Small appliances, books, curtains, wall décor, etc.

CCMGA is as busy as the bees we all want in our gardens. I hope you will join me in expectation of this new year.

Sondra Henley, 2018 President CCMGA


Message from V.P. Susan Cleckler

Susan Cleckler V.P.

Well it is that time again, time for the annual Master Gardener Class!

My name is Susan M Cleckler and after meeting my husband, JC Cleckler, I moved to Chilton County. I have lived here for 10 years, and have always been interested in taking the Master Gardener class, and last year I decided it was time!

After 12 weeks of great speakers, “hands on” classes, field trips, and more information than you can imagine, I cannot say enough about this program. Everyone that takes this class walks away with more knowledge than they came in with. And, now, after attending the class and volunteering for 50 hours, I am a Certified Master Gardener. If you want to learn about vegetable gardening, flower gardening, fruit trees, composting, soil conditions, garden pests or lawn problems, etc. this program will not disappoint. Also, there is an Advanced Certificate in specified areas that you can work toward.  It is hard for me to say what my favorite part of this program was, because all of it was so GREAT! I didn’t want the class to end because of the camaraderie and friendships that were made during this special class time.

Master Gardeners work with the Chilton County Extension Office and the Chilton County Research and Extension Center. With the local office coordinator and agents, we help communities with information on gardening, landscaping, community projects, civic projects as well as educational activities. The Master Gardeners have a Demonstration Garden at the Chilton County Research Center that is for all to enjoy and learn from. As one of our fundraisers, we have a Christmas Home Tour that showcases area homes decorated for the public to see and we also have an annual plant sale.

For more information on the Master Gardener Program,  go by the Chilton County Extension office located at 504 1st Ave., Clanton, AL 35045, or call 1-205-280-6268.

To hear great speakers, join us on the second Tuesday of each month for the Chilton County Master Gardener Association meetings, held at the Jemison City Hall, 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Programs begin approximately 10:00 a.m.

Here is a Smilebox slideshow of photos of Susan during her internship.



November CCMGA Meeting

Chilton County Master Gardener, Martha Gothard, presented an informative program on growing African violets at our November meeting. We learned about the sizes, making potting soil, potting with wicks, fertilizing, dividing and light requirements. The most common cause of with failure with African violets is that we do not water correctly. Martha taught us to put a tray under the plant so that the plants may be watered from the bottom and to wait until the soil is dry to the touch before watering. Thank you, Martha, for the great program and all your time preparing the Power Point.

Congratulations to four more interns that have completed their requirements for Master Gardener certification! Larry Jones received his badge and certificate at our meeting. Robin Cagle, Lattie Hardy and Spencer Hardy were presented their badges and certificates at the Chilton County Extension Office during the past month.

The December meeting on the 12th brings our annual Christmas Party that will be held at Petals From the Past beginning at 10:00. Bring a $10 gift for a fun game of Dirty Santa. Contact Elizabeth York to sign up to bring a dish.


Meet Our Octogenarians

When I first wrote about our OCTOGENARIANS, we had four. Today we have nine!

“Octogenarian: Someone in his or her eighties, or in other words, between 80 and 89 years of age.”

Now that is a big word, and one that we don’t use in our every day speech, but a person that has lived for such a wonderful length of time deserves to have a special word to describe them.

The Chilton County Master Gardeners Association is blessed to have nine members that are Octogenarians. And along with this descriptive word comes a bonus of having a Lifetime Membership in CCMGA.

E.C. Lewis was one of the founding members of the Association and joined in 1999. Lindy Helton became a member in 2000, Charlotte Word in 2009, Margaret Goolsby in 2006, Peggy Harris in 2008, Margaret Ennis in 2007, JoAn Davis in 1997, Wayne Freeman in 2002, and Bettye Glass joined in 2011. We LOVE our OCTOGENARIANS!

Members at least 80 years old

October CCMGA Meeting

The Chilton County Master Gardeners met on October 10 and learned about Growing Succulents from Barbara Witt. Barbara is a member of Capital City Master Gardeners of Montgomery and has a lifelong interest in succulents, her favorite one being the Haworthia genesis.  This group consist of small succulent plants endemic to Southern Africa. One of the most well known succulents is called Hens and Chicks.  Others that many of us are familiar with are Kalanchoe and sedums. Some categories of succulents are hardy in our zone and others are not. We learned that many succulents do not grow well in our humid climate but make great houseplants. The biggest problem with growing succulents is that many people overwater them; they should dry completely between watering. Did you know that to propagate you need to let the leaf stem form a callus before planting?

Elizabeth York,  Trisha Williams and Sondra Henley shared information from  gardening conferences that they attended this Fall: Cut and Color Seminar by Capital City MGA in Pike Road, AL and Fall Gardening Extravaganza by Tallapoosa MGA IN Alexander City, Al.  Harriet Jackson told us about Autauga County Master Gardeners touring our Demo Garden and the Chilton Research and Extension Center.

Congratulations to Debbie Housner for completing requirements for Master Gardener certification. Larry Jones, Robin Cagle, Lattie Hardy and Spencer Hardy  have also completed requirements but were not able to attend the meeting.

Photo credit: Elizabeth York


Fall Gardening Extravaganza

Chilton County Master Gardeners Trisha Williams, Sondra Henley,  and Harriett Jackson attended the Fall Gardening Extravaganza hosted on September 29th by the Tallapoosa County Extension Office and Tallapoosa County Master Gardeners.  Chris VanCleave, “The Redneck Rosarian” spoke about “Roses for the Real World”.  “Slow Gardening” was presented by Felder Rushing who is always a treat to hear. We learned about “Old Daffodils in Alabama Gardens” from Sara L. Van Beck. Then Carol Reese, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist with the University of Tennessee Extension presented her program “Take a Walk on the Wild Side”.  This was a great event filled with learning and fellowship with other Master Gardeners from around the state.

Have you tried gardening in the back of your truck? Felder Rushing says you can garden anywhere–even at 81 miles per hour! Check out his truck and don’t miss the bottle trees.

Photo credit: Trisha Williams