I know there are programs and certifications for master gardeners, and I don’t want to take anything from their accomplishments. For me, however, mastery in the art of gardening is an impossibility. There are always mistakes to make and things to learn. Maybe that’s one reason I like it so much.
What Is a Master Gardener?
A master gardener is a real title. Most states offer a program through their land grant university extension program. Individuals train and take courses and then volunteer in their communities, helping other gardeners and working on local gardens.
For example, in Michigan, master gardeners train through Michigan State University. Applicants take a 14-week course and commit to a 40-hour volunteer education project to be certified. Master gardeners know their stuff. I would certainly turn to one for advice when I’m stumped. However, in a more philosophical sense, I don’t think anyone truly masters gardening.
Why Mastering Gardening Isn’t Possible
The simple reason for the controversial claim I’m making is that gardening is a vast, huge thing. There are nearly endless plants to get to know, growing conditions to try, and changes in wildlife, pests, and diseases.
That being said, I do think you’ve achieved quite a lot if you know how to grow a range of plants in your own ecosystem and garden. If you can identify insects and know how to manage them in your yard, if you can keep a bed healthy and strong, if you understand the timing of planting, trimming, and harvesting, you’ve mastered the art of gardening in your own yard.
What if you had to garden in a yard in a completely different climate? You would have a new learning curve. Yes, the knowledge you already have would serve you well, but it would take years longer to master the new environment, pests, plants, and conditions.
The Challenge Is the Fun Part
I don’t mean to be disparaging or discouraging. It is certainly possible to master many aspects of gardening. But take heart with the fact that you can’t master it all. Where would be the fun in not having any new challenges to face? What’s interesting about not having any new plants to discover?
I say mastery is overrated. I consider myself a work in progress as a gardener as in all aspects of my life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.