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Celebrating 40 Years in California!

Dr. David Gibby founded the very first master gardener program in 1973. Photo:
When David Gibby founded the very first master gardener program in 1973, he had no way of knowing the tremendous impact master gardener volunteers would make around the world.

Established in 1980, the UC Master Gardener Program has been extending UC research-based information about home gardening and pest management to the public for forty years.

Starting in Riverside and Sacramento Counties the program is now in more than 50 counties across California and functions as a volunteer based public service and outreach program under the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), administered locally by participating UC Cooperative Extension county offices. 

The first graduating class of UC Master Gardener volunteers in Sacramento County.


Without the passion of volunteers, local communities, and support from UC academics the UC Master Gardener Program would not have grown into the extensive educational volunteer network it is today. Last year 6,154 active UC Master Gardener volunteers donated 446,237 hours, and 6.8+ million hours have been donated since the program's inception. Our volunteers are the core of the UC Master Gardener Program and are serving in a way that creates positive change for people, communities and our environment.

(Left) A UC Master Gardener workshop and plant clinic being hosted in the mall, circa early 1980. (right) A UC Master Gardener Program booth at the California State Fair in 2018. Photo: Toni Greer

40 and Counting

Guided by our mission to extend research-based knowledge, the program is currently focused on three primary impact areas: sustainable landscaping, food gardening and community well-being. Through recently implemented statewide program evaluation and data collection efforts the first ever annual report was published in 2019. “The annual report spotlights volunteer and the impacts they are making in their communities every day,” says Missy Gable, statewide Director, “Our volunteers continue to set us apart. With the continued support and commitment from volunteers, UC, and local communities the program will continue to grow and support gardeners across the state.” 

UC Master Gardener volunteers of San Bernardino County attending the previous statewide conference in Long Beach, Calif. Photo: Melissa Womack

Celebrate with Us!

Join us throughout the year in helping celebrate the 40th year of the UC Master Gardener Program making a difference across California's landscape. This landmark anniversary is being celebrated through the use of the new 40th anniversary logo, events and special recognition throughout the state.

  • Anniversary Logo:
    Members of the UC Master Gardener community are encouraged to use the 40th Anniversary log on social media pages, email signatures, and in printed materials during the year-long celebration.

  • 2020 Statewide Conference:
    Volunteers, University of California Academics, and specials guests will be able to celebrate at the triennial Statewide UC Master Gardener Conference, in Lake Tahoe Sept. 28 – Oct. 2, 2020. Special themed commemorative conference pin, apparel, awards dinner and celebrations are being arranged for the conference.

  • Photo Contest:
    A special photo contest will also be held where everyone can participate and celebrate.

  • State and County Recognition:
    Proclamations at both the state and local levels will call attention to and recognize the achievement of volunteers and their commitment to the mission and community service.

  • #GivingTuesday & Big Dig Day: 
    UC ANR's 2nd annual Big Dig Day will take place this year on Friday June 5, 2020 and focuses on raising funds to support local county programs or projects. Save-the-Date for #GivingTuesday taking place Dec. 1, 2020 and is primarily a social media movement to show support through volunteering or making a gift. 
Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 12:55 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

During this Holiday Season Give the Gift of Garden

The holiday season is upon us! As you check off the presents on your shopping list, consider a gift from the garden. Here are some great gift ideas with sprinkles of garden angels in mind for those special gardener's in your life:

Office Poinsettias / Photo: Melissa Womack


Even though poinsettias are tropical plants, they have become synonymous with the winter holiday season. The poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima) has both dark green and bright red leaves as well as small clusters of green and yellow flowers.

Heirloom Seed Packets / Photo: Parenting Patch

Seed Packets

Seed packets make a great holiday gift because of the large number of varieties available. The gardeners in your life will be able to grow their own vegetables and fruits or have a colorful array of flowers for their spring landscape. Seed packets contain planting instructions and tips that help guide all gardeners from novice to expert.

Canned veggies, fruits, pickles, relish, jams and jellies / Photo: Melissa Womack

Jar It Up

Homemade items are always a pleasant addition to gift giving. Fruits can be made into marvelous jams and jellies; vegetables can be pickled or made into relish; nuts can be candied and placed in a jar. Use a piece of burlap and some ribbon for the finishing touches on a beautiful gift.

Blank Gardening Note Card /Photo: Donna Valadez

Garden Angel

Be a Garden Angel! Make a card with a handwritten offer to mentor a beginning gardener or an offer to help plant or harvest for a seasoned gardener or a person who loves to garden but may not be able to.  This is truly a gift from the heart.

Dried Flowers / Photo: Beatrize / Pixabay

Dried Flowers

Press or dry flower arrangements from your garden. Pressed flowers look beautiful in a picture frame with a special note, poem, or quote.

House wrens - nesting box with 4 young / Photo: Robin Rivet

Recycled Bird House

Bring out your crafty side and upcycle old material around the house to create a birdhouse. Construction basics are available online along with video tutorials.  This gift keeps on giving as it provides seasonal interest and excitement once a bird chooses it as home. 

Basket of Pears / Photo: Evett Kilmartin

Gift Basket

Fill a basket with any bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables, or flowers from your garden. You can also include seed packets, a Garden Angel card, and jarred goods. This is a fun way to share your enjoyment of your garden with others.

During this holiday season give the gift of garden and share joy, peace, and love on this bountiful time of the year.  Wishing you and yours a very Merry Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2019 at 2:47 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

American Rose Trials for Sustainability

Did you know the UC Master Gardener Program of San Joaquin County has been part of a National Rose Trial since 2018? The National Rose Trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability (A.R.T.S.) Program which has trial sites across the United States. The National Rose trial was initiated in 2012 by individuals representing multiple rose stakeholder groups including: private industry, the scientific community, and public gardens.

Since 2018, UC Master Gardeners in San Joaquin County have been part of a National Rose Trial. The trial is part of the American Rose Trials for Sustainability program, which aims to identify roses that perform well in a given region when grown under “minimal input conditions.” (Photo: Marcy Sousa)

The goal of the A.R.T.S. program is to identify roses that perform well in a given region when grown under "minimal input conditions."  What are "minimal input conditions?" 

  • there are no pesticides used
  • we do not deadhead the flowers
  • there is no pruning (except to remove winter-killed canes in the spring, or those killed by rodents)
  • we do not add any fertilizer (only compost is added prior to planting)
  • plants are not covered in the winter (in colder climates it is common to cover and protect roses)

A.R.T.S. national test sites are strategically located throughout the U.S. and are hosted by partners that share the A.R.T.S. mission including botanical gardens, arboreta, municipalities, colleges and universities. There are only two Mediterranean climate trial locations and they are both located in California.  The National Rose Trials at the UC Cooperative Extension office in San Joaquin County began in 2018, and the second location at Fullerton Arboretum started in 2019.

Rose bushes in full bloom, outside of the UC Cooperative Extension Office in San Joaquin County (Photo: Marcy Sousa)

A.R.T.S. defines its climate regions using the Köppen climate classification system, which is the preferred means used by ecologists. This system not only takes into account temperature, but also seasonal precipitation and humidity. The A.R.T.S. evaluation protocol has 45% of the score reflecting sub-components of the health and quality of the foliage, 42.5% the presentation and quality of the flowers and 12.5% reflecting the plant's growth habit. Climate can greatly impact all three of these evaluation categories.

How does the trial work?

Karrie Reid, UC ANR Environmental Horticulture Advisor, has been managing and overseeing the trial since its inception in 2018. Roses were planted in an unused turf area that was converted to rose trial grounds.  One of the selling features of converting the turf sections was the calculated water savings - 3,656 sq. ft. of turf used more than 103,000 gallons of water, while 60 roses in the same area on drip irrigation uses approximately 6,175 gallons, a huge 94% savings! 

Each year starts the beginning of a new trial with 20 difference rose cultivars. Three of each rose variety is planted randomly throughout the beds, allowing ample spacing between plants to observe natural plant habit. Mixed in the plantings are two standard rose varieties known to perform well and to be disease resistant. The trial runs for two years, evaluations start the year of planting and finish the following year so roses only go through one winter season. There are two staggered rose trials planted in San Joaquin County per year.

Roses being tested in the A.R.T.S. trial may be watered thoroughly during the first year after planting for proper establishment during the season they were planted. The roses in the UC Master Gardener of San Joaquin trial are watered 1-inch, twice a week while they are blooming during the first year, and only once a week during the second year.

Each rose is evaluated monthly during the growing season; the roses are rated on a 10-point scale, judging them for their foliage, flowers and plant form. (Photo credit: Marcy Sousa)

Each rose is evaluated twice monthly during the growing season by a team of UC Master Gardener volunteers, the local advisor, or a local rose club member. Evaluators rate the roses on a 10-point scale, judging on foliage, flowers and form. The evaluation data collected is submitted to the A.R.T.S. program for evaluation.

UC Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County, Kate Vizcarra and Janet Nimtz, evaluate roses for its foliage, flowers and form. (Photo Credit: Marcy Sousa)

Picking the winners

Any rose cultivar in a given region that scores higher than the average of the standard cultivars and has greater than a 50% survival is given the A.R.T.S. Local Artist Award. Any rose that receives the A.R.T.S. Local Artist award in four or more regions is given the A.R.T.S. Master Rose Award.

Having the A.R.T.S. awards in different regions means that nursery and landscape professionals along with home gardeners can be sure they are selecting plants that will perform well in their gardens. Not every plant is going to thrive in every climate. While a particular cultivar may do well in the short, cool growing season of Maine, it may perform very poorly in the much longer and warmer conditions found in California.  

We are excited about the opportunity to participate in the program and are eager to find out the winners in our region. Follow us on Facebook @ucsjmg to hear about the winners from us.

Soon, the UC Master Gardener Program in San Joaquin County will begin prepping the ground to install a brand new trial in January 2020!

If you would like to learn more about the A.R.T.S. program, visit their website: If you have a gardening related question, you can contact the UC Master Gardeners at 209-953-6112. More information can be found on our website:

Information for this article was taken from the A.R.T.S. website and Nursery Management magazine.



Posted on Monday, December 16, 2019 at 4:53 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Giving Tuesday is Dec. 3


Join us in supporting the important work of the UC Master Gardener Program this Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3, by making a gift or taking and UNSelfie and sharing on social media.
On Dec. 3, 2019 the UC Master Gardener Program is once again participating in Giving Tuesday's 24-hour global giving challenge, a movement about ordinary people coming together to do extraordinary things.

Celebrated on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season. For UC ANR #GivingTuesday is an opportunity to raise funds for county programs, projects and extension efforts.

“Wherever you are in California, so are we. Our programs and research serve our communities— bringing practical, trusted answers to residents across the state. That's what our #GivingTuesday #NeighborCA campaign is all about,” said Emily Delk, director of annual giving for UC ANR. 

How can you help? Here are a few simple ideas:

  • Join us and donate. Your gift can be applied directly to support your local county program.
  • Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for exciting updates. Include @UCMasterGarden and the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #NeighborCA.
  • Share this message with friends and family and encourage them to join the movement!

“Giving Tuesday gives us an opportunity to talk about our research and outreach to enhance food systems and create thriving communities, as well as all the other positive things everyone in ANR is doing to make life better for Californians,” said VP Glenda Humiston.

We're asking you to join us in supporting the UC Master Gardener Program tomorrow by making a gift that supports our mission and the work we are doing in your community. Please spread the word to friends and family who want to support you in making an impact.

Thank you for all you do for the UC Master Gardener Program and for joining the #GivingTuesday movement! For more information visit

Posted on Monday, December 2, 2019 at 10:40 AM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Program Coordinators and Leaders Gather for Annual Professional Development Meeting


The UC Master Gardener Program is well known for its volunteers' prolific extension of home horticulture, sustainable landscaping, and pest management to California residents. At times behind the scenes and at other times front and center, UC Master Gardener Program Coordinators and lead volunteers work diligently to ensure that volunteer cohorts have the skills and resources they need to succeed.

Last month UC Master Gardener statewide staff, program coordinators, and volunteer leaders gathered for their annual coordinator meeting. This year the annual coordinator meeting included two packed days full of training, sharing, and enrichment centered on volunteer engagement.

Program coordinators and volunteer leaders brainstormed ideas on ways to engage and support volunteers from all generations. Photo: Melissa Womack

Volunteer engagement is an approach to volunteer leadership that attempts to support volunteers throughout the volunteer lifecycle – from identification and selection through orientation and training to program recognition and evaluation. Presenters delivered informative presentations focusing on generation-informed approaches to volunteer engagement, best practices in adult and land-based learning, program evaluation, communication with government officials, and new resources.
Sample icebreakers were done in the morning as a team-building activity and to showcase interactive ways to have volunteers meet each other or buy into the training. In this icebreaker coordinators were asked to act out the phrase "Oh no! Look at that topped tree!"
Following a few sample icebreakers, coordinators received updates on the state of volunteer engagement within UC ANR from Gemma Miner, the UC 4-H Youth Development Program's Volunteer Engagement Coordinator. Building on this presentation, UC Master Gardener Program Volunteer Engagement Coordinator, Marisa Coyne, offered a presentation on applying a generational lens to the work of recruiting and retaining volunteers. Coordinators brainstormed generated ideas related to improving the generational diversity of UC Master Gardener volunteers and remarked that although each generation (traditionalist, baby boomer, generation X, and millennial) was shaped by different trends and events, many of their needs are similar.
Program Coordinator, Judy McClure, of Sacramento County welcomed attendees to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center to learn about how gardens can be used as an outdoor classroom and learning space. Photo: Melissa Womack
A quick lunch was followed by a visit to the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center, a beloved community garden located in Sacramento County. The Horticulture Center hosts community events and workshops, including an annual Harvest Day in August attended by thousands in the region annually. At the garden, Lauren Snowden, Statewide Training Coordinator, demonstrated hands-on, multi-sensory, participant-focused facilitation methods, while teaching about bulbs for fall planting. UC Master Gardener Volunteer, Lori Thorson, gave her account of the impact of the program on her life. 
A hands-on demonstration about planting bulbs showcased multi-sensory and participant focused facilitation methods. Photo: Melissa Womack

The group re-convened bright and early the next day for a presentation by UC Davis Student Farm Associate Director, Carol Hillhouse. Drawing on her 30-year career in outdoor experiential learning with UC, Hillhouse outlined eight best practices for adult and land-based learning. “Adults come to education experiences with prior knowledge and with expectations,” said Hillhouse. “Successful volunteer engagement includes the acknowledgement and application of prior knowledge and an ability to meet adult learning goals.”

Carol Hillhouse, UC Davis Student Farm Associate Director, presented to the group about experiential learning and engaging volunteers. Photo: Melissa Womack

Next, Melissa Womack, Statewide Marketing and Communications Coordinator and Tamekia Wilkins, Statewide Evaluation Coordinator, led the group through an activity designed to help folks share program evaluation data using storytelling and data. As daily communication moves increasingly online, networks like Twitter and Facebook create opportunities for sharing impact with community members and community leaders.


Participants were asked to combine storytelling and impact data for various communication pieces. Photo: Melissa Womack
Before lunch, Coordinators were treated to a special presentation from Anne Megaro, UC ANR Government and Community Relations Director, who provided advice for effective communication with government officials and community leaders. Megaro noted that, in the local context, it is important to “know your champions,” meaning the individuals (volunteers included!), entities, and families that are committed to and recognize the worth of projects and offerings. 
Finally, a five person panel of program coordinators presented on the topic of partnerships for program effectiveness, sharing ideas for possible collaborations with juvenile rehabilitation programs, visually impaired communities, school districts, sustainability-focused non-profit organizations, and other UC ANR statewide programs.
Five coordinators and volunteer leaders, presented on projects that support the program's mission and are opportunities for meaningful partnerships within our communities. Photo: Melissa Womack
Just as UC Master Gardener Volunteers seek continuing education to ensure that their horticulture information and extension skills are sharp, program coordinators engage annually in professional development around volunteer management, program administration, and evaluation. Research on core competencies of Master Gardener Coordinators in North Carolina indicates that a variety of proficiencies are needed to successfully lead a Master Gardener Program. Annual coordinator meetings are a regular opportunity to build and share knowledge.

A list of coordinators can be found the UC Master Gardener Program website. Note: Some counties do not have UCCE staff coordinators. In these cases, UCCE Advisors or County Directors are listed as the lead contact per UC ANR policy.

Thank you to all who attended and presented at this year's coordinator meeting!

Program coordinators, volunteer leaders and the statewide staff gathered at the UC ANR building in Davis, CA for the UC Master Gardener Program's annual coordinator meeting. Photo: Melissa Womack
Program coordinators, volunteer leaders and the statewide staff gathered at the UC ANR building in Davis, CA for the UC Master Gardener Program's annual coordinator meeting. Photo: Melissa Womack

38 team members of the UC Master Gardener Program taking a group photo, holding sunflowers, in front of the UC ANR building.

Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 11:16 AM
Tags: Master Gardener (32), Training (4), VMI (1), Volunteers (7)
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

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