Report from the Seattle Master Gardeners


by Susan
It was Cass Turnbull of Plant Amnesty fame who praised the Seattle Master Gardeners and suggested I see what they’re up to, so I did.  (And fans of Cass, a profile of her and her good work is coming here Poster150widthsoon.)

I spoke with Elaine Anderson, the director of King County Master Gardeners, and learned that they do indeed do lots of good works, like:

  • Public education through plant clinics, a Mon-Fri phone line, their website, and 5 very hands-on demonstration gardens open to the public. 
  • Outreach gardens for groups like the Lighthouse for the Blind, the Ronald  McDonald House, a domestic violence shelter, and more.  These are also very hands-in-the-dirt volunteer opportunities but here the Master Gardeners are working closely with the client groups.

Now what’s traditional for Master Gardeners nationally are those plant clinics, hotlines and demonstration gardens – no news there – but the outreach gardens are an innovation.  And asked what else is changing for the group, Anderson told me that this year for the first time their training will take place on Saturdays and that the result has been a markedly younger and more racially diverse in-coming class. They’ll be alternating each year between weekdays and Saturdays but still, THIS IS BIG.  Seems that the average age of Master Gardener trainees has been steadily going up into the AARP-isphere and someone realized the whole damn program would die out if something didn’t change. (Elizabeth, feeling vindicated yet?)  Although it could be worse – Anderson told me the average age in Japan is far older, by about a decade.   Here I’ll resist all the ageist jokes that spring to mind and simply react: Good lord!

So the moral is: accommodate people who have jobs and voila – you might just save the whole movement.  And once these younger types start getting involved, who the hell knows where they’ll take it.  (Okay, I have a strong suspicion – more environmental education.)

I’ve already related the sordid saga of the Master Gardener "program" here in D.C., so I won’t go there.  Instead, it’s time for some fabulous news.

Since becoming independent from DC’s Extension Service we’ve joined up with others in DC’s green community, adding our meager resources to collective efforts where we could.  But that’s all changed because DC’s Historical Society has offered to be our home, our sponsor, our partner-in-chief, our new best friend, and we’re jumping at the chance.  Here’s the story on our blog.

Graphic courtesy of King County Master Gardeners.


  1. Good for them. Now if the groups east of the Cascades would do the same, I could also join the effort.

  2. Would you please give me a contact for submitting an application to the Master Gardener Program in Seattle?

    Many thanks,
    206 499-0655

  3. I am a North Carolina Master Gardener {2008 President}. My family & roots are in Washington. I’ve heard about a famous “Mr. Cisco” out West there in King Co., but can not find him on the web. Can you point me to his website? Thank you very much, Jessie ~ ncwcmgva

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