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Master Gardeners beautify Decatur with their botanical expertise

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Master Gardeners

Herald & Review, Jim Bowling From left, master gardeners JC Nashland, Lori Jensen, Elaine Cripe and Margie Cook work in the Children’s Garden at the Decatur Public Library.

Behind every beautiful garden is a talented gardener, and the best of them are called Master Gardeners. These green-thumbed experts earn the master title by studying horticulture and putting their skills to use as community volunteers.

Master Gardeners have served Macon County since 1987, with more than 400 people from all walks of life completing the 60-hour training through the University of Illinois Extension office. In exchange, they volunteer and complete continuing education hours every year to keep their title.

The more than 125 active Master Gardeners serve as a source of botanical expertise for the Decatur area. They share their knowledge by teaching classes, leading workshops, donating produce to food pantries and demonstrating gardening techniques. Their handiwork can be found in places such as the Decatur Public Library garden and an 1860s-style heritage garden at Rock Springs Conservation Area.

Many events they host, such as the tomato taste panel or spring plant sale, have become annual events. One that's grown in popularity is the Garden Walk, which features unique home gardens in the area.

Behind the scenes, volunteers are stationed at the Extension office April to October to answer gardening questions by phone (217) 877-6872, email at and in person.

If you have a question about how your tomato plant is growing, a picture of that weird moss on your tree or yellow spots in your lawn, they have the answer. And if they don't, they'll do some research and get back to you with a solution.|(217) 421-6968


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