The Green Thumb
news & updates
for Polk County Master Gardeners
March 2022
Project Updates
Program Committee

Aaron Steil will present on Tuesday, March 22 from 6:30-9:00pm. He will speak on Waking Your Garden Up —do’s & don’ts

The session will be held in-person and on Zoom. In-person will be limited capacity, so sign up soon!

Please register for either the in-person or the zoom option (seperate registrations):

Sign-up to attend via Zoom here. 

In case of inclement weather, the session will be Zoom only. Watch for any updates.
No meal will be held. At this time, masks are encouraged for in-person attendees.

Save the Dates - Upcoming Educational Events:
  • April 21 - Beth Cody

Did you miss a program or want to re-watch? View past presentations:
Garden Tour - volunteers needed!
Event date: Saturday, July 9th 9am-4pm

We need volunteers for this year's Garden Tour!

We are in need of 18 volunteers to help with garden preparation, and 34 volunteers to work at the event day-of.

Garden prep volunteers will work closely with the gardeners, doing weeding and other prep helps as needed. Other than benefiting from the extra hours one can expect to gain when compared to just working the day of the event, some gardeners (gardeners, in this case, are defined as the persons who have volunteered their gardens to be viewed by participants for this event) are beekeepers or have expertise in other areas such as zone pushing or higher education in horticulture that you could potentially gain experience or greater knowledge in.

Workers are those that will be working the day of the event. The event is on Saturday, July 9 from 9 am to 4 pm. There are four morning shifts and four afternoon shifts per garden with a total of 11 gardens.

All day-of workers and and garden-prep volunteers are welcome to assist the Garden Tour with preparing for the event in advance, and may attend any of the monthly meetings. If interested, please provide you name and email to
Bus Trips 2022 - Save the Date!

June Bus Trip to Omaha

We’re back on the road in June 2022! The registration form is attached with complete trip details. Transportation costs have increased significantly and if you’ve traveled with PCMG before, you’ll notice the one-day trip fee is higher than in the past. Registration includes bus transportation, admission fees to all gardens, lunch, and snacks. We have decided to cancel the overnight trip to Minneapolis in July. Hope to see you in June!
Demonstration Garden

The last major snow brought some beautiful imagery however many of us are now thinking of spring and looking forward to the transitional month of March. Heat mats are out, the earliest of seeds have been sown, and shop lights have been put to use.
Mark your calendars for upcoming events. 
March 21st (Monday) - Spring Kick Off Meeting, start time 6:30pm. This is a hybrid meeting, in person at the Urbandale Library and via Zoom. During this meeting the co-chairs will review opportunities at the garden, events for the season, planned projects, etc.
April 16th (Saturday) - The annual spring clean up is scheduled for Saturday, April 16th. Start time 9am. Arrive when you can, leave when you must. The following week (23rd) is our rain date.
We look forward to seeing many of you in the coming months.  
Discovery Garden

Hope all is well and you are feeling a little like spring. With that in mind, anytime we might have a nice warm day, you can go out and do general cleanup at the garden. Please remember that all garden refuse goes on the east side of the Ag Building. There are typically lots of leaves in the garden, especially around the pond area that can be remembered if you have free time and are wanting hours.

Thanks goes out to Proven Winners who were approached by Patrick and awarded some bare root perennials, shubs as well as annuals. Some of these were offered and shared with the other projects.

The Discovery Garden purchased a new art piece called Birds and Branches which will be placed in the garden this spring.

We anticipate a Spring Dinner Meeting in March once our co-chairs meet and set an agenda. More information to follow.


Did you miss the Discovery Garden feature on Iowa PBS? you can find it online here:

Or you can catch on March 12th at 2:30pm on channel 11.1.

Enabling Garden

WELCOME NEW INTERNS: Please do not stop with classroom training; plant yourself among other gardeners, water your skills, grow experience, harvest a wealth of encouragement, enthusiasm, and purpose. It is an exciting time to join the team as we are all in that start-over, begin-again mode. This is an invitation to take the plunge and commit to care for one of our ‘orphan’ beds. On your first visit to the garden, seek out one of the co-chairs and look over the possibilities. Make it a point to ask several gardeners to share a bit of history from their years volunteering in the Enabling Garden. Their testimonies should motivate you to return again and again.
GET CONNECTED: To receive information about activities at the Enabling Garden, please join our Facebook page at
To stay current and receive emails of Enabling Garden announcements and notices, please send your email address to Rosie Surber
Any questions? Feel free to contact one of the co-chairs: 
     Judy Goshorn  tel: 515-681-1636
     Paul Satre  tel: 515-322-7737
     Linda Brown  tel: 515-779-6331
     Rosie Surber  tel: 641-521-1628
PLANNING MEETING: Save the date. Thursday evening, March 31, 6:00-8:00 pm in the meeting room at the Bondurant Community Library, 104 2nd St. NE in Bondurant.
CLEAN-UP DATES: Weather in March can be very unpredictable. Should we see a very warm March as we did last year, there may be an unexpected Saturday clean-up date. Make sure co-chair Rosie Surber has your contact information. Unlike summer and fall, spring clean-up is thorough and detailed. What are some of the tasks we will be doing?  Cutting back grasses, spreading mulch, cleaning beds, pruning bushes, shrubs and trees.
Open Invitation to Help: Whether you are a master gardener or just enjoy gardening, we’d love to have you participate and assist with this sale. If interested or need further information, please call or email:
       Marlene Olson at  tel: 515-681-6344
       Linda Brown at  tel: 515-779-6331
  • Dig and Divide: April 2 to 7.  
  • Set-up for Sale: April 9, 9:00 am to Noon.
  • Plant Sale: April 9, Noon to 4:00 pm - (Rain date April 10, Noon to 4:00 pm) 
  • Location: Enabling Garden is located southeast of the HyVee loading dock at 1050 First Ave. S., Altoona. Parking is available in the HyVee parking lot. 
EDUCATIONAL TALKS: Save these dates. Tuesdays at 6:00 pm at the Garden. Ample seating is available, but feel free to bring your lawn chair. 
  •   May 17 – 6:00 pm – Lilies All Summer – Kristi Evans from Iowa Regional Lily society.
  •   June 14 – 6:00 pm – Garden Water Features – Dean Brand, Polk County Master Gardener
  •   July 12 – 6:00 pm – Awesome Perennials – Derek McKay, staffer from Ted Lare’s Landscaping
  •   August 23 – 6:00 pm – Shade Gardening, (basics for amateurs and great plants for shade), by Aaron Steil, Iowa Public Television show host, “Gardening with Steil”.
CHILDREN’S ART AT THE ENABLING GARDEN: Mark your calendars. Tuesday, July 26, 6:00-8:00 pm (Note: This event does not qualify for educational hours.)
“WHERE DISABILITIES MEET ABILITIES”; the mission statement of the Enabling Garden. From the web site: “Our primary goal is to welcome people of all abilities to experience the garden. It provides an area that illustrates gardening for individuals with physical impairments by demonstrating the construction of barrier-free gardening. With design concepts such as raised beds and vertical wall gardens, visitors learn how gardens can be adapted to accommodate any gardener regardless of age or ability.” 
After reading about an Enabling Garden at Chicago Botanical Center, Paula Winslow (class of 2002) pursued the possibility of an Enabling Garden for volunteers in eastern Polk County. Presenting the idea before the ISU Extension service and seeking cooperation from the city of Altoona; the groundwork was laid. Fund raising began and plans continued in 2002; the pergola and all raised beds were finished by 2003. Concrete was laid in 2004. The number of new volunteers took a leap in 2006 and brought with them new ideas, energy and enthusiasm; the garden doubled in size. Over the years other expansions have followed. A collection of photos and information has been compiled by Paula. If interested, visit the Altoona Historical Museum at 104 2nd St SE, Altoona. For contact information, call Alex Payne at 515-249-9765. Attached photo was taken in 2003.
GOODBYE TO AN OLD FRIEND: It came as no surprise. The city of Altoona removed the last of three original Green Ash trees in the garden. Yes, we are going to miss the shade. If there is a positive side to this, some gardeners are being given the opportunity to renovate their area and give it more color with some sun-loving plants.  

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint; the soil and sky as canvas.” by Elizabeth Murray
Let’s get ready to splash some color around in the garden. Staying in the lines is not a requirement.  

Submitted by Ruth O’Connor
Volunteer Opportunity with Iowa Children's Water Festival!

The Iowa Children's Water Festival is looking for volunteers to help with the event on Thursday, May 12th at the DMACC Ankeny Campus! Volunteers spend time with youth (5th graders), and lead educational games and activities. More information and contacts can be found in this sign-up form.
Volunteer Opportunity - Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens

Would you like to be a Garden Coach?
Garden Coaches are volunteers who support non-profit organizations with gardening activities. They do not provide the physical assistance but offer information, encouragement and education to staff, volunteers and/or clients working with the garden. Garden types may include vegetable, pollinator or ornamental. This is a great volunteer opportunity to support the many beneficial aspects of gardening! This program and volunteer support is offered through the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. A training session will be held on March 24th. If you are interested in the volunteer role, please email or call 515.323.6293.

NEW Master Gardener Apparel

The state office has expanded the options for Master Gardener apparel! Check out new designs for t-shirts, sweatshirts and more on this website.

Also, the red t-shirts are still available on the ISU Extension Store. Please note these are two seperate platforms, so if you are interested in items from both sites those will need to be ordered seperately.

(Due to the expanded availablity of the red apparel options, we are unsure when any of the white t-shirts/sweatshirts will be available).
Continuing Education Opportunities
On Demand Education

Pre-recorded opportunities you can view on your own schedule!

This list is not all-inclusive - you can get continuing education from other reputable sources such as public gardens and other states' Extension services.
Learn on Saturdays

Start early on your 2022 continuing education hours with this series from the Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens!

Catch two different topics each Saturday morning through March from 10:30am-12:30pm.