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Master Gardener’s in Action
Master Gardeners Teach New Gardeners at School Rain Garden

Several Steinbach area Master Gardeners (MG’s) and Master Gardeners in Training (MGIT’s) were recently involved in a project at the new Clearspring Middle School in Steinbach, Manitoba, assisting in the planting of a rain garden.  Involved were:  MG’s – Karen Loewen and Anne Peters, MGIT’s – Denise Sandberg, Lenora Kehler and Lone Hill, and gardener Louise Mullick.
Rain gardens are designed to collect rainwater and prevent runoff to the street.  They are situated in a created or naturally shallow depression at a downspout or near the street where they absorb and filter rainwater.  Most rainwater falls onto impervious surfaces – roofs, driveways and streets, washing pollutants such as oil on driveways, fertilizers and pesticides into storm sewers, which ends up in nearby bodies of water.
Only one criteria is necessary in plant selection:  plants must thrive in briefly soggy conditions.  Otherwise, plants can be shade loving Hostas and ferns, or sun loving Echinaceas, Iris, Columbines and grasses, as well as many others.
In this project, the role of the gardeners was to teach the children how to plant, so they would assume ownership of this garden.  Clearspring Middle School Grade 6 and Grade 8 students got dirty planting, watering and mulching – even the occasional plant was stepped on !  No matter – they were learning!  Sustainability was an important consideration when planning this garden.  When the Grade 8 students graduate, the Grade 6 class, now 2 years older, will begin teaching younger students and so on.
The rain garden was funded by the Seine Rat River Conservation District, with assistance from the province and Hanover School Division, and is part of a larger plan to bring learning outside to the schoolyard to teach the children about their environment.  Other innovative features incorporated into the landscape architect’s design are outdoor learning areas with seating, butterfly gardens and more.
Steinbach MG’s and MGIT’s appreciated working with Jodi Goerzen, interim district manager at SRRCD, Ed Neufeld, principal of CMS and teachers, Kevin Martens and Murray Carter and the wonderful students.  Thank you for the opportunity.
Karen Loewen is a Master Gardener and President of the Steinbach Area Garden Club.

Book Reviews:  The Prairie Short Season Yard by Lyndon Penner

Reviewed by:   Deborah Petrie, Master Gardener
This book was a joy to read.  There is so much great information on so many topics related to the prairie garden that it may well become the “Gold Standard” on short season gardening here in Manitoba.
The material is well presented in a concise straight forward fashion with no “fluff” added, a true gardener’s book as opposed to just another book about gardening.  From A to Z it is packed with tips, tricks and useful wisdom for the novice gardener and some new ideas, plant suggestions and words to the wise for the seasoned grower.  There is quite literally “something for everyone” in this little book.
Mr. Penner’s wit is sown throughout and his love of gardening is abundantly clear from beginning to end.