Having had no opportunities to meet and socialize in person for a long time we would like to introduce our members and readers to the MMGA board members with a series of interviews. We start the series with our Chair Shelley Walker. Shelley is well known to many members and non-members as the former Special Events Director and organizer of the popular MMGA Garden Tour. At the AGM in April 2021 she was elected as chair of our organization.
MMGA Newsletter (NL) – You have been an MMGA for 9 years, but how long have you loved gardening/how long have you been gardening?
Shelley Walker (SW) – I started gardening when Arnie and I bought our first house over 40 years ago. I could not wait to see what would come up, so I measure the start of my love of gardening from that spring when we moved in.
NL – What kind of a garden/s do you have?
SW – I have 2 gardens – a flower garden around our house and a vegetable garden near us in a community garden run by the South Winnipeg Garden Club.
My 3rd garden is the one I volunteer at. Once a week in the summer you will find me at the Herb Garden in Assiniboine Park.
NL – How did you become interested in herb gardening?
SW – A friend belonged to the Herb Society of Manitoba. They maintain the Herb Garden at Assiniboine Park. Since I was interested in doing more gardening in addition to my house garden, I joined the Herb Garden group. I really did not know much about herbs then (beyond their culinary uses) but I learned a lot more from the other members who also worked in the Herb Garden.
NL – What are the things that give you most pleasure in your garden?
SW – I love the lushness of the plants as they grow and fill in the space each spring. I also love it as each new flower blooms. I actually find working in the garden restful although over the years I have had to learn to temper my enthusiasm and take breaks every few hours.
NL – Why did you want to become a Master Gardener?
SW – As I became more interested in gardening, I was looking for more education about the science behind plants. The Master Gardener Program offered me that. As I was already volunteering at the Herb Garden, the volunteer hours were already a given.
NL – What do you see as the strengths of the MMGA?
SW – I see the MMGA as a source of gardening advice for people interested in gardening. I believe that advice comes from our members’ many years of experience in gardens, trying new plants and observing how plants thrive (or not). The first time I was on a radio call in show, I was amazed how many questions I could answer.
NL – Are there things you would like to change or develop?
SW – As the Chair, my goal is to organize an infrastructure for our organization. As a volunteer organization, we have made many decisions over the 10 years we have been in existence – but we had no central repository for them. We are close to finalizing the MMGA Handbook which will do that.
I also look forward to seeing a new Master Gardener Training program out of Assiniboine Community College this Fall.
NL – What makes you most proud of being a Master Gardener?
SW – The volunteer projects that so many Master Gardeners and Master Gardeners in Training do! These projects bring beauty and sustainable garden spaces to our province and they can be a source of education and inspiration for Manitoba gardeners.