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  • ABOVE: Dr. Andrew Griffin, left, confers with The Manor Administrator Karen Bayless and The Manor employee Frog Roberts, on plants Griffin will help Manor residents plant in their new garden. As Master Gardener interns, Griffin and Pam Tolson (not shown)
  • TOP: Master Gardener intern Pam Tolson, at right, helps residents of Mexia’s The Manor nursing home, Cardie Brackens, left, and Vikki Danz transplant flowers, herbs and vegetables into containers for The Manor’s garden.

Master Gardeners help Manor residents start garden

Two interns in the Limestone County Master Gardeners program helped residents of Mexia’s The Manor nursing home start a garden last week.

Dr. Andrew Griffin and Pam Tolson worked with personnel at The Manor to obtain multiple plastic flower boxes, fill them with dirt and transplant into them a variety of flowers, herbs and vegetables: vincas, begonias, oregano, basil, okra, tomatoes and radishes.

The residents appeared interested and satisfied with the activity, as did Manor personnel to see the residents occupied with the gardening.

Manor administrator Karen Bayless expressed her satisfaction at seeing The Manor residents engaged in the project.

“It’s caused more residents to go outside and participate more, so that helps them physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “When you watch things grow, when you’re seeing them grow in front of you, you feel successful, but you also get your hands in it and are doing something.”

Meanwhile, Griffin and Tolson were fulfilling the volunteer service to the community required to become certified Master Gardeners. That’s because the first year of the two-year program includes 50 hours of learning gardening from experts; and the second year involves providing 50 hours of volunteer service to the community, sharing their recently acquired expertise in gardening.

“As interns we involve ourselves in a number of hours of community service,” Griffin said, so this presented itself as an opportunity to provide a free service. I went to Ms. Bayless, and she said they would like to have a garden project there; they didn’t have one yet. So we started doing some plants over the last few weeks, and the residents have been very enthusiastic about participating with that.”

Griffin and Tolson had some plants that had already been started, so they replanted those into containers. The residents had started some plants from with seeds, so Griffin and Tolson helped the residents plant those, too.

“It was nice to see the enthusiastic response from the residents,” he said. “I’ve worked at other nursing homes and started gardens at other places, and it’s always been a nice experience for people who have done gardens in the past, so they can participate, get their hands in the dirt and watch the flowers.”

Griffin recommended the Master Gardeners program, describing it as very interesting.

“It’s just astounding how much there is I didn’t know – that I thought I knew – when I went into it,” he said. “They covered aspects of trees, plants, fruits, watering. It’s very extensive, and there’s a lot of information available. They also point out where more information is available, so it’s very informative. If people are interested in gardening, the Master Gardeners program is a good way to become a lot more knowledgeable about it.”

The training is tailored to the grasses, trees and other plants in this area, he said.

The teachers were specialists from various areas, he said; many were professional gardeners and owners of businesses, so there was a wide variety of instructors.

The current class includes about 20 enrollees, he said, but around 40-60 people have already completed the program and are now Limestone County Master Gardeners.

Griffin anticipates applying his knowledge not only to his own garden but also to others as he fulfills his hours of volunteer service.

To find out more about the Limestone County Master Gardeners program, go to or calling the Limestone County AgriLife office at 254-729-5314.

Mexia News

214 N. Railroad

Mexia, TX 76667

(254) 562-2868