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Seeds For Thought

A newsletter of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State

February 2024 – Volume 24, Issue 1

From the President

~~ Tana Hasart, MGFWS President

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Welcome to 2024 and a great new year for learning.

Writing a preface for Seeds for Thought is such an honor. The publication provides yet another way we, as master gardeners, work to ensure our horticultural knowledge is up-to-date and relevant for the communities we serve.

Much like gardening, each learner approaches the task of acquiring new knowledge in slightly different ways. Some MGs are hands-on learners, while others learn by listening. Some MGs learn by absorbing information, and then sharing it with others; some learn best by reading from printed material. Regardless of how you learn, this edition of Seeds for Thought will provide new insights and tools.

If you have not already done so, also consider subscribing to The Evergreen Thumb, the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State (MGFWS) sponsored podcast. It is a great companion from which you will learn about new gardening and horticulture techniques. And who can resist hearing these well-designed snippets, whether you are in your home, your car, or out and about!

A major goal of the MGFWS is to provide a unifying voice for master gardeners and master gardener foundations from across the state. We are proud of what is shared with you in this issue of Seeds for Thought and look forward to hearing how our sponsorship impacts your work with the public.

From the Statewide Program Leader

~~ Jennifer Marquis, WSU Extension Master Gardner Program Statewide Leader

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Jennifer Marquis

Looking forward to all that 2024 will bring for our WSU Extension Master Gardener Program. 2023 was a whirlwind of celebration and reflection. Volunteers and staff from around the state came together to honor and recognize 50 years of history. We are an organization that thrives on learning, giving back, and building resilient communities for a healthy planet. The new year promises to open new doors, foster new friendships, and drive focus back toward our strategic plan and the core projects:

  • Telling Our Story
  • Quality Resources
  • Infrastructure
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility
  • Professional Development for Program Coordinators
  • Program and Foundation Relations

Six focus areas involve the work of faculty, staff, and volunteers to ensure that our program is well-positioned to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. We have accomplished many goals through the efforts of these groups, but still have more to do. There is much going on behind the scenes.

The Telling Our Story team will continue to build on the Program Priority toolkit with improved evaluation methods, additional training around using the toolkit, and improved clarity around a few of the priorities, like Nearby Nature, that have caused confusion. The purpose of this team focuses on telling a compelling and impactful story that will garner increased financial support from current and new stakeholders including WSU, county and state governments, and other local NGOs and individuals. When fully supported we will do more with more.

The quality resources team will continue its work to update basic training, improve pest management recommendation agreement understanding, and improve tools like Hortsense and Gardening and Washington State. Additionally, a team of volunteers, faculty, and staff are working on creating peer-reviewed presentations focused on Climate Change for volunteers to grab and teach from. More to come on that last item. This work will provide a library of resources relevant to each Program Priority for volunteers to deliver educational outreach.

The infrastructure team is working on a variety of projects that include GivePulse improvements, e-commerce, listservs, MSOffice365 access including SharePoint which will, crossing my fingers, lead to a plant clinic database. Testing is underway for SharePoint. The time frame for adoption will become clearer in Spring. The work of this team will facilitate shared access to extension master gardener program resources and communication tools, and offer document sharing and storage without WSU credentials.

The diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility team will focus on recruiting and retaining a diverse volunteer cohort. DEI training is in the works and will hopefully be available in 2024. Making our program more accessible is also on the list. This will require taking a deep dive into program practices and expectations. And, it is important we know who we are serving and who we are missing. Data collection is key. Training on collecting REG information from our clients is in the works. The work of this team will decrease barriers to participation, inspire interest from audiences not traditionally served, and overtime improve both the diversity of volunteers who serve in our program and the diversity of audiences served.

Professional Development group aims to provide opportunities for program coordinators to improve upon their skills. This year we will focus on using advisory groups to support planning and decision making. Coordinators also have opportunities to attend National Extension Master Gardener Coordinator professional development webinars offered every other month. I am hopeful that we can host an in-person coordinator meeting in June. And, this year the national extension master gardener coordinator conference is in Santa Fe, NM. It is a great opportunity to learn and network with coordinators around the nation.

We Grew Lunch

~~ Phyllis Pugnetti, Yakima County Master Gardeners

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A group of Yakima Master Gardeners were talking about a humorous blog detailing the exploits of two experienced and enthusiastic gardeners who decided to grow all the ingredients for their Thanksgiving dinner, only to have excessive heat, drought, deer, gophers, and a rambunctious puppy decimate their garden and ruin their plans. We laughed at their plight, then asked, “Could we actually succeed where they failed?” We decided to turn gardening into an extreme sport by growing enough food to serve lunch to 60 Master Gardeners at an event in late October. This ambitious and optimistic project was dubbed—We Grew Lunch—and has become an annual event.

First, we had to set some ground rules. We wanted everything to be local. It turns out that ‘local’ isn’t well-defined. It means different things to different people. Are locally grown foods sourced from within the United States, the Pacific Northwest, the State of Washington, or Yakima County? We decided that for our event, locally grown would mean all fruits, nuts, vegetables, herbs, eggs, and honey had to be grown or raised by Yakima Master Gardeners in their own gardens. We acknowledged that we would have to buy some ingredients like sugar, flour, oil, butter, cheese, and meat; so we limited the use of those ingredients. Luckily, we have members who raise chickens for eggs, bees for honey, have cold frames and greenhouses to extend the harvest and have root cellars to store long-keeping fruits and veggies.

We Grew Lunch Menu 2023

Each year, the biggest hurdle is deciding on the main dish. Since none of our members raise meat animals, usually the main dish is vegetarian. We also need a backup menu in case a crop failure spoils our original plan. After that, the rest of the meal is based on what each of us can grow and contribute.

The luncheon starts with ‘mocktails’, fruity spritzers, and shrubs made with rhubarb, pears, or apple cider. Appetizers have included deviled eggs, gazpacho, dips, spreads, and all kinds of pickles. The big hits have been squash and white bean hummus, jalapeno and ginger jelly, savory onion jam, and a carrot spread that is often mistaken for salmon.

The main course begins with fresh baked rolls, some have savory herbs, and others are served with sweet jams. Thanks to a greenhouse, the green salad may have fresh tomatoes and peppers, or be sweet with walnuts and apples. The meal also includes a side dish of roasted seasonal vegetables. Each year we showcase a different main dish—frittata with mushrooms and spinach; three sisters stew with tomatoes, black beans, corn, and winter squash; and moussaka with eggplant in marinara topped with mashed potatoes.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert. Over the years, our desserts have centered on local fruits, either fresh or dried. Wine grapes, apples, pears, apricots, blueberries, rhubarb, and cherries have been baked into fruit crisps, cookies, and bars.

At first glance, it seems that preparing a holiday meal relying heavily on Master Gardener grown vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, and honey would be a very limited menu. Surprisingly, We Grew Lunch taught us that the menu is only as limited as our collective imagination.

Winter Rose Pruning Basics

~~ Barbara Faurot, Jefferson County Master Gardener

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I love to prune my roses … you can forget everything else while you’re doing it.” – Julie Andrews, actress, author, and rosarian

It’s time to prune our roses. The Seattle Rose Society recommends pruning between Feb. 22 and mid-March, when forsythia is blooming in your neighborhood. The plants are still dormant, but the likelihood of a hard freeze has passed. Winter pruning accomplishes several tasks: improving structure, encouraging new flowering wood, increasing sunlight and air circulation, and reducing fungal pathogens.

Within the Rose family (Rosaceae), the genus Rosa includes more than 100 species and thousands of cultivars. Species roses, with 22 native to North America, are those that occur naturally in the Northern Hemisphere.

Modern roses are considered to be those bred and cultivated after 1867, the year the first hybrid tea rose was developed. Hybrids and cultivars developed prior to 1867 are known as old garden, heritage, or heirloom roses.

It’s important to note that old garden roses typically bloom on the prior year’s growth, so they should not be pruned in winter. After flowering, they can be pruned very lightly to remove any old, unproductive canes.

The basic pruning steps for modern roses are similar to other cane growers like mahonia, kerria, nandina, or forsythia. As with most plants, prune lightly during the first year or two while the root system is still developing.

Start with clean, sharp pruning tools. Remove dead wood, diseased or spindly canes, rubbing or crossing canes, and rootstock suckers if you have a grafted rose. Prune die-back to bright green cambium just beneath the bark, with clean white pith inside.

Old leaves remaining after the winter can harbor disease, so they should be removed. If rose hips remain, they can also be removed when they begin to look spent. In all cases, pruned materials – canes, leaves, or hips – may contain disease-carrying spores, so they should be discarded and not added to compost.

Since most modern roses produce flowers on new growth, our main objective is to select the strong, healthy canes that will support this year’s growth. These canes can be shortened to an outward-facing bud above a leaf scar (the intersection of the cane and a leaflet). Cut at a 45-degree angle about 1/4” above an emerging bud so that water will flow away from the bud and growth will be forced outward, opening up the plant to sunlight and air circulation. For spreading roses, you can also prune to some inward-facing buds to encourage a more upright habit.

Most modern roses bloom on new growth. Late winter is the best time to prune to stimulate new canes and flowers. This hybrid tea rose shows healthy new growth above a good pruning cut made at a 45 degree angle about 1/4″ above the bud. Photo courtesy of Amanda Jarrett,

Hybrid tea roses are a cross between hybrid perpetual roses and old garden tea roses. They have a large bloom on a single upright stem and a deep root system. Floribunda roses, smaller than hybrid tea roses but larger than shrub roses, have small flowers grouped in clusters. Grandiflora roses, usually larger than the floribunda, are a cross between a hybrid tea and floribunda. They have large, showy blooms like hybrid teas, but grow in clusters like the floribunda.

Well-established hybrid tea, floribunda, and grandiflora roses can be pruned moderately to fairly hard in spring. Too little pruning can result in a weak, spindly plant. As a rough guideline, prune strong plants moderately – removing at least ⅓ and up to ⅔ of the plant, and prune weaker plants severely to renovate them – leaving only 3-4 canes about 8-12” long.

Shrub roses, including groundcover roses, have a more shallow root system, a spreading habit, smaller flowers, and dense foliage. They tend to be more disease-resistant and need less maintenance. Start by reaching inside to remove any old or crowded canes and open up light and air circulation. Reduce some of the remaining canes to 6-18” tall, depending on the plant’s size. Cut to a healthy bud, facing in the desired direction for new growth. For established groundcover roses, prune off about 6” before new buds begin to form.

Climbing roses are either old garden varieties that bloom once a season, or modern varieties that re-bloom like their parent hybrid tea, floribunda, or grandiflora roses. They bloom on horizontal canes and can be fastened to a fence, trellis, or wall. For the first few years, limit pruning to the removal of dead or weak canes. Once the plant is established on its support, shorten side canes to the edge of the structure to stimulate lateral bud growth. In subsequent years, remove the oldest canes and prune lateral growth to a healthy bud.

David Austin roses, sometimes called English shrub roses, combine the qualities and fragrance of old garden roses with the re-blooming and color range of modern roses. Follow the same basic pruning guidelines depending on their form (shrub or climbing).

Native wild roses like Nootka rose, bald-hip rose, or pea-fruit rose can be pruned if needed like any cane grower. After removing dead or damaged branches, cut a few of the older canes to the ground and remove some of the new shoots.

Looking ahead to spring and summer, stimulate re-blooming by deadheading faded blooms. For healthy plants, prune canes to a leaf node with 5-7 leaflets. In fall, discontinue pruning as the plant prepares to go dormant, and leave the rose hips for winter color and wildlife. Next winter, the pruning cycle can begin again, when the forsythia blooms.

The nonprofit Seattle Rose Society offers useful articles, resources, and access to consulting rosarians.

2024 WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference

~~ Debbie Benbow, 2024 Conference Co-Chair and Chelan/Douglas County Master Gardener

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It feels as if it were just yesterday when we bid farewell at the 2023 AEC in Tacoma. However, within a mere three weeks, Co-Director Cathi Lamoreux and I have already been immersed in planning for our upcoming virtual WSU Extension Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference scheduled for September 27-28. The chosen theme for this conference is “Gardening in a Changing Climate.”

I am delighted to share that, following the review of numerous proposals, we have selected Live Oak Audio Visual as our virtual conference provider. Robbie Harris, a Master Gardener from Snohomish County, has proven to be an indispensable team member, providing valuable assistance in guiding us through this crucial aspect of the conference.

Additionally, Cathi has successfully secured our keynote speaker, Rebecca McMackin, an ecologically passionate horticulturist and garden designer. To learn more about Rebecca, visit About — Rebecca McMackin. We are incredibly excited to have her as our guest!

Registration opens on June 1. Watch our website WSU Master Gardener Advanced Education Conference – 50 Years and Counting ( in the coming weeks as we update registration, class, and instructor information as it becomes available.

While I understand that some may be disappointed about the AEC not being an in-person event this year, there are several benefits to consider:

  • We have the opportunity to attract leading instructors and researchers from across the US without any travel constraints.
  • Choose from a diverse lineup of 35 classes and learning opportunities presented in seven sessions. All classes will be recorded and made available, allowing you to attend each one for CE credits.
  • Enjoy an inspiring keynote presentation by a globally renowned garden designer.
  • WSU Extension Master Gardener Programs throughout the state will have the chance to showcase their noteworthy projects.
  • The conference price will be more affordable, with no additional costs for travel and accommodation. This accessibility ensures that many more can attend to receive top-notch education.


We are currently assembling our planning team and invite you to be part of this dynamic group of volunteers to ensure the success of the 2024 AEC. If you are interested or have questions, please reach out to Cathi or me. We are specifically looking for individuals to join the following teams:

  • Program Development team members (we need two more to complete this team)
  • Publicity: handling social media, press releases, e-blasts, etc.
  • Sponsorship procurement.

Please feel free to contact Cathi or me if you have any questions.

Debbie Benbow

Cathi Lamoreux

Schilter Corn Maze in Olympia Commemorates 50th Anniversary

~~Pam Roberts, Thurston County Master Gardener

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Thurston County Master Gardeners and Master Recyclers were delighted when the owners of Schilter Family Farms in Olympia invited us to participate in their annual Corn Maze and Fall Harvest Festival in October 2023. We were able to promote our program and the 50th Anniversary at the same time!

2023 Schilter Corn maze in the shape of washington state commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the WSU extension master gardener program

A birds-eye view of the maze provided the insignia of the MG 50th Anniversary celebration!

Volunteers developed and installed live container displays promoting gardening, composting, and recycling tips for corn maze visitors. These displays were placed in the center of the maze among the corn stalks. Volunteers maintained them during the month of October for thousands of visitors to enjoy.

A birds-eye view of the maze provided the insignia of the MG 50th Anniversary celebration!

Visitors were asked to vote on each container garden and monetary prizes were provided to our Foundation.

Container Garden with Recycling Tips
Container garden with
“Corn-tastic Scarecrows”

Thurston County MG Foundation 2024 Calendar

~~ Pam Roberts, Thurston County Master Gardener

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It’s not too late to get your 2024 Calendar from the Master Gardener Foundation of Thurston County!

This is a wall calendar capturing beautiful photographs by Master Gardeners throughout the four seasons. The 2024 Calendar is focused on pollinators. Each month’s plant and pollinator is identified. The calendar is 8.5 by 17 inches when opened to a month, with ample writing space for each date.

The cost per calendar is $10. Calendars may be ordered on the MGFTC website and payment can be made using a credit or debit card, or with a check payable to MGFTC. For small quantities of calendars (1 up to 10) you may elect to have the calendars mailed to you with postage costs added to the order. For small orders as an option and for all larger orders (more than 10 calendars), arrangements can be made with an MGFTC Calendar Committee member to arrange pickup of your order with no postage costs. For more information, please contact Barb Baker at

Thanks from the MGFTC Calendar Committee!


~~ Compiled by Erin Hoover, Editor

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This is a list of WSU produced resources I thought might be useful:

On Solid Ground delivers monthly updates on how WSU researchers, students, and alumni are changing and supporting agriculture and natural resources, both here in Washington and the wider world. 

Confuence Magazine shares the story of WSU College of Agriculture, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS), including Extension.

Washington State Magazine covers all the goings on at WSU. 50 years, 50 states was among the top 10 most read articles of 2023.

Cabin Fever 2024

~~ Spokane County Master Gardener Program

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Rhododendrons On the 49th Parallel

~~ American Rhododendron Society

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Seeds for Thought is a quarterly publication of the Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State. Submissions, corrections, and comments can be emailed to the Editor, Erin Hoover

Seeds for Thought Copyright 2016-2024 Master Gardener Foundation of Washington State