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March Newsletter

If you want to attend the Annual Membership Meeting, you must mail your reservation to MAMGA, PO Box 259318, Madison WI 53725-9318 no later than Friday, March 4.  The registration forms are here.  If you have items to donate for the silent auction or have questions about it, contact Dana Warren at 833-5703.
Ed Meachen is running for re-election to the MAMGA Board.

The President's Message

Our second program of 2016, a MAMGA social and talk by Jamie Vanden Wymelenberg, horticulturalist at Klein Floral and Greenhouse, was a great way to spend a (warm) winter day.  We had 32 members who enjoyed a discussion of new annuals for 2016.  This was perfect timing for supplementing seed catalog wish lists and visions of planting season a couple of months away.  I think the kickoff of MAMGA’s program season with January and February programs has been great fun and portends our best year ever!  Thanks to Deb Pienkowski and all the volunteers who made this program possible.

Our third program, our Annual Meeting, is just around the corner, March 12th.  It features Jeanine Standard of Proven Winners who will follow on Jamie’s talk with a history of Proven Winners and a forecast of new perennials, annuals and shrubs for 2016.  The Board and I will be sharing with you the MAMGA five year planning document, Footsteps to our Future, and asking for your comments.  This is the time of the year when we have Board elections, bylaw changes, and other decisions…most of them originating in our 2015 planning efforts. 

Please register for the annual meeting.  You should have received a registration form in the mail.  For those who have not renewed membership yet, there is still time.  You can mail in your dues with your meeting registration and receive your membership card at the annual meeting.  We are continuing the garden center and greenhouse 10% to 15% discounts for members.  We had a wonderful turnout of about 110 members and guests last year, and I hope we will have at least that many again this year.  I look forward to seeing you on Saturday, March 12th.

Welcome to the 41 members of the 2016 Master Gardeners class!  MAMGA invites you to make use of our website and attend our events.  Feel free to contact us at with any questions or concerns.
Please note that 2015 members who have not sent in dues for 2016 will be removed from our newsletter distribution at the end of March. 

Members can expect the newsletter to be emailed on the first of each month.  For updates on MAMGA activities, see our website at, which is updated more frequently.
Annual Membership Meeting 10:30 am to 1pm
Our annual meeting will be held at the UW Arboretum in the large room immediately to the left when entering the building.  We'll have information about volunteer opportunities and a silent auction with craft and art items plus a chance to socialize.
The business meeting starts at 11 and will cover several reports on the year's activities, the 2016 projected budget, update on the Strategic Plan, election of Board members (see this issue for candidate photos & statements), and consideration of changes to the bylaws.  

Bylaw Changes
Revisions in two sections of the bylaws will be presented to the membership.  The first clarifies who is eligible for membership in MAMGA.  The language shown replaces the original sentence.

Section 2.01. Membership.  A person is eligible for membership if one of the following conditions is met: (1) the person is currently enrolled in a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) training program, (2) the person has successfully completed training and initial MGV certification in Wisconsin, or (3) the person has successfully completed training and initial certification in another state MGV program.

The second proposed change requires members of the Board to maintain certification as Master Gardener Volunteers.  The added new language is underlined.

Section 4.01.  Number and Tenure.  The Board of Directors shall consist of the four (4) officers and seven (7) directors.  Members of the Board of Directors shall be certified as a Master Gardener Volunteer by the University of Wisconsin Extension at the time of nomination and throughout the term of service on the Board.  A director who does not remain certified cannot continue on the Board of Directors.  The regular terms of the Board of Directors shall be two (2) years.  Each director may serve until his or her successor shall have been appointed in accordance with these bylaws or until his or her [Delete: prior] death, resignation, or removal.  The terms of directors shall be staggered so that five directors are elected one year and six directors the next year.

The lunch, baked potato topping buffet & dessert, will be followed by our speaker, Jeanine Standard, from Proven Winners.

Extension Express

Visitors to the Teaching Garden are able to view over 600 perennials, shrubs and trees that are Midwest hardy. As of the Spring of 2016, the names of all plants in the garden (excluding annuals) will have been entered into an Excel database, along with information on their attributes and care.  See the UW Extension's website to learn more about the Teaching Garden.

Upcoming Events

-March 2 Wednesday 3:30pm Amphibians & Reptiles, Arts Center,        Oakwood Village, 6902 Mineral Pt Rd, Madison
-March 4 Friday 1 to 3pm Speakers Training Dane Co/Ext office
   For MGVs who will give public talks on gardening topics
-April 2  Saturday UW Arboretum 9am to 3pm  
     Advance Registration required  See Eventbrite
     Public Garden Symposium:  The Artful Garden 

-April 5 Green Thumb Tuesday, Monona Garden Restaurant 12:30 - 2:30pm
-April 27 Wednesday Forestry in Wisconsin with Paul Delong DNR 7 to 9pm Dane Co/Ext office

-May 25 Wednesday 4pm until dark Fitchburg Garden Tour - directions will be provided

Master Gardener Profile:  Pat

by Mary Collet

Clocking nearly 1,400 MGV hours in 2015, Pat Greathead has a long history in community gardening.

For 11 years she maintained the butterfly garden at the Henry Vilas Zoo, as well as hosta and hummingbird gardens. At the same time, she volunteered in the educational program, introducing all manner of animals to the public. Currently, Pat and fellow members of the Sun Prairie Garden Club participate in the Blooming of Sun Prairie adopt-a-garden program, planting and maintaining gardens on Main Street and by the city swimming pool. They donate the plants (particularly marigolds), weed and deadhead throughout the growing season, and put the beds to sleep for the winter. Pat has held several offices on the Sun Prairie Garden Club board and currently serves as secretary.

Pat has a penchant for serving on boards, and many groups have benefitted from her expertise and long years of devotion. She served as treasurer of the Madison District of the Wisconsin Gardening Club Federation for 18 years and was MAMGA’s treasurer for 2 years, also acting as the distribution coordinator for the MAMGA gardening calendar/journal.

Her support for community gardening goes beyond the Wisconsin state line. An avid herb gardener, Pat currently serves as the delegate for the Central District of the Herb Society of America, which encompasses Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and Kentucky. For the 200 some members of this district, Pat publishes and distributes a newsletter in addition to sending weekly emails and personal notes, such as greetings to new members.

Pat’s commitment to the community began early on, when she became a Girl Scout Leader. She became a Master Gardener while living in Maryland, then took the UW Extension training when she and her family moved to Wisconsin. Their ¾-acre property in East Bristol is home to a 20 ft2 herbal garden, a 60 by 20 ft vegetable garden, and fruit trees and bushes, all grown organically and nourished by compost, which Pat’s husband maintains in several bins. From August 9 to the end of the growing season alone, the family harvested 400 lb of vegetables!

Pat loves gardening, both at home and in the community. She says that the greatest boon in being involved in the community are the friendships she has made.

Hostas and more.  
The herb garden, prairie flowers, and a bench to enjoy the view.
Install a Rain Garden this year!
The Madison Area Municipal Stormwater Partnership is sponsoring two ways to improve surface water quality and protect our groundwater.
  • Register for a workshop on how to install a rain garden to be held on March 12 from 9am to noon.  The fee is only $5.  Register here.  The workshop will be held at the Lussier Family Heritage Center.  
  • Order native plants for the rain garden at only $1.90 apiece.  Orders are due March 23.
Schools, non-profit organizations, municipalities and residents in Dane County may purchase these plants.  For more information, see this poster.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • Like communicating your interest in gardening?  Join the communications & editorial committee to help with the newsletter and/or website.  Send an email to
  • Join the Demonstration Prairie team at the Dane County UW-Extension Teaching Garden.  Team Leader Jane Graham has a plan and will share her knowledge.  Contact her at
  • Want to help maintain a section of the Teaching Garden?  For more information about the Adopt-a-Garden go to
  • Help Falk Elementary School students work on their garden.  Work with small groups.  Contact Anna Biermeier for more information.
  • If you like to play in the dirt, the Monona Public Library is looking for Summer 2016 Garden Volunteers.  We assign each volunteer his/her own garden and let them do their magic!  This is a fun and easy way to earn MGV volunteer credits.  Please contact Leslie Johnson for additional information.
  • The UW West Ag Research Station is looking for MGVs to collect and count apple pests on a weekly basis.  Training will be provided.  The duties consist of hanging sticky traps with pheromone lures inside on the apple trees, and then counting the number of adult moths in the traps each week.  Every so often a trap needs to be replaced to freshen up the sticky pad and lure. The whole task takes about 30 minutes.  A volunteer can expect to get to know the workers out in the field, who are wonderful and knowledgeable people.  Contact or call  (608) 216-8846
  • The Lussier Community Education Center at 55 S. Gammon Rd is seeking a pair of experienced gardeners to care for the decorative garden in front of the community center. 
          Key responsibilities include: 
          - Design 2 ornamental spaces and 10 small boxes (approx. 200 sq ft)
          - Purchase plants & supplies with funds provided 
          - Plant and maintain the garden by weeding & plant upkeep 
          Volunteers will need to provide their own tools. 
          For more information call Cristina Johnson at (608) 833-4979
             or email 
  • Volunteer at one of several sites on Madison's near westside--Glenwood Children's Park, Wingra Park, or the SW Commuter Path.  Install and maintain prairie, woodland, and edible plants in these public greenspaces.  Contact or 608 233-1955.
Job Opportunity
Russ Hefty retired as the Madison Conservation Resource Supervisor in January. Russ did great work in building a restoration program for the Conservation Parks over the past 25 years. The City has just started accepting applications to refill that position. The job description and application process is on the city website:

MAMGA members who have completed their training are eligible to apply for grants to purchase plants for schools and other public facilities.  Applications are due by March 20 and should be mailed directly to Jim Scorgie, 8411 Airport Rd, Middleton WI 53562.  Information and a budget sheet are available at
Evergreens, conifers, and pine trees--what's the difference?  We often use the terms interchangeably, but they are not equivalent.  As Master Gardeners, we want to be aware of the differences.  A plant that keeps its leaves and stays green all year may be described as an evergreen.  An evergreen is a descriptive term for a plant that could be a tree, a shrub, or even a vine such as ivy.  Conifers are trees named for their seed-bearing cones and are members of the gymnosperm taxonomic class.  The seeds of gymnosperms are not encased by the female parts of the flower as are angiosperms.  Think of pine seeds (gymnosperms) compared to seeds of an apple (angiosperms).  Conifers include pine trees as well as spruces, cedars and firs.  Coniferous trees generally have needles (or scales) year round compared to deciduous trees, which have leaves that drop in the fall.  And just to make things interesting, the tamarack is a conifer that drops its needles in the fall.  Next month, we'll list the native conifer trees individually.
Consider a Native Conifer in Your 2016 Garden Plan - Part 1
by Kimberley Patullo
I recently returned from my first visit to Colorado, and all I can say is “Trees!  Glorious Trees!!!”  At Vail and Beaver Creek, the towering evergreens were so stately that they took my breath away, that, and the altitude and freezing temperatures!  

Back at my home in Middleton, I enjoy a number of conifers that are at least 15 feet tall.  Perhaps I've inherited an appreciation for these trees from my mother.  Shortly after her arrival for a summer visit, she found herself beneath the fragrant mammoths growing on my property, under the guise of weeding, of course.  I know she just couldn’t resist the joyful act of hiding in a special nature wonderland. 

Since moving in, I have planted an additional 6 conifers in my back yard.  Unfortunately, I bought trees that were on sale, six non-native Colorado blue spruce.  Last year, I lost one, probably due to drought.  I did some research on the Colorado variety that are so prolific in the Vail region only to learn that millions have been lost in the past few year due to a spruce beetle epidemic.  I personally learned all too well about the devastation one bug can have on a monoculture.  In my prior home in Connecticut, my one-acre hemlock grove was wiped out in 5 years due to the woolly adelgid.

With my rekindled enthusiasm for the conifers and a growing interest in planting trees native to Wisconsin, I decided to research what would be good additions for my yard.  I found a wonderful publication by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources titled So What Should I Plant?  It covers trees, shrubs and vines that have value for wildlife and gives recommendations for deciduous and conifers for all areas of the state. 

I've learned that biological diversity has decreased all across Wisconsin.  The state is facing invasion by non-native plants and trees which out compete beneficial native plants.   Native trees help maintain the original biodiversity and are part of the natural history.  Planting an assortment of native trees will not only help minimize risk of losing everything in case of disease, but also helps support wildlife, offering berries and seeds and places for birds to nest.  With this new information, I'll be looking to plant the evergreens that are native to the southern part of the state.

I recalled a journal entry about pine trees from my husband's great-grandfather, Walter O. Terry.  He wrote that if he could, he would “place, for every person upon the earth, one great pine tree with low reaching branches…” His wish was for each person to lie quietly beneath that tree for one hour and meditate as a means to bring about peace.  By planting native species, we can enjoy the beauty of the trees themselves, while we provide better habitat for wildlife.  

In Part 2 to be published next month, we'll learn about  the individual conifers that are native to southern Wisconsin.
Compost bins and rain barrels will be available for purchase on May 7 at the Alliant Energy Center.  Order by April 18 and save $10.  For more information, see the MAMGA website.

Know Your MAMGA Board Candidates

Three members are running for election to fill three vacancies on the 2016 MAMGA Board.  They are:  Laura Jirsa Dille, Deb Pienkowski, and Sally Kefer.  Three current Board members are running for re-election:  Ed Meachen, Bonnie Mitchell and Dennis Tande.

The next MAMGA board meeting will be on Monday March 21, 6pm to 8pm at the Dane County Extension Offices.  The Board will elect new officers, examine the membership renewals and its impact on the 2016 budget, and make new committee assignments.
Below left:  Dennis Tande WIMGA representative, candidate for re-election
Below right:  Sally Kefer, candidate for Board vacancy
Dennis Tande  My love of gardening started in my Dad’s backyard greenhouse in Britt, Iowa when I was 5 years old and lives on by working in our own back yard, numerous volunteer activities and continuing education.

Our yard includes perennial and vegetable gardens, plus prairie and oak savanna restorations. Our gardens were featured in the Waunakee Garden Tour in 2007.

My first year on the MAMGA Board included work on the "Footsteps to our Future" strategic planning process, developing a new MAMGA brochure, serving on the Executive Committee and WIMGA representative.

I have volunteered for many years for the Dane County Parks prairie restoration projects including organization, seed collection, cleaning, weighing and sowing. I have been most active at the Yahara Heights site, just north of Cherokee Marsh.

This spring I am starting my seventh year as a seasonal worker at a local greenhouse, planting and assisting customers with questions, planning and plant selection.

I look forward to another exciting term, working with the Board to promote this incredible organization which provides a variety of educational, volunteer and social opportunities.

Sally Kefer retired from Wisconsin DNR in May 2014 after working with natural resources for 33 years. She is licensed in soils and hydrology in Wisconsin.

Sally and her long term partner Rick grow vegetables at their rural home in southern Fitchburg and produce and sell value added products at community events. This summer, she plans to expand their emerging pollinator gardens. Sally and Rick have 2 successful beehives as they enter their third year of beekeeping.

Learning about and supporting community needs for green spaces and gardens is a priority. Sally also has a goal of raising awareness and programming for better nutrition within the community. She believes that green spaces, vegetable and flower gardens, farmers markets and trees and flowers in public spaces all enhance and build community.

She looks forward to contributing and expanding her knowledge and expertise as a member of the MAMGA Board. The board’s strategic plan and working committees will ensure that the new and returning board members work toward common goals along with having some fun as an organization!

My name is Deb Pienkowski (photo above left) and I am running for the first time for the MAMGA board. I have been a master gardener volunteer since 2012. I have always enjoyed working on teams and driving improvement. We have a great group of people and I believe with the number of MGVs there are in the area, we can drastically grow our membership and do more good for the community. I have been active on both the graduation committee and event committee and  participated in the strategic session held last fall. My gardening interests include berries, grapes, fruit trees, vegetables, prairie, ornamental perennials and annuals, water plants, seed starting and seed harvesting. I also coordinate the Wisconsin Heights Community Garden.

Bonnie Mitchell's photo is shown above on the right.  Here is her statement:  My willingness to serve a second term on MAMGA's board is due to the friendliness of my fellow board members, to my interest in the changes coming from "Footsteps to the Future," and to my laziness--I served on the nominating committee and would have had to find my replacement.

For many years I have served as president of the Greentree Garden Club, an active group of gardeners on Madison's far west side. We are currently working with the city to rehabilitate Sherwood Forest Park which lost all its mature trees in the 2014 tornado.  The club maintains the garden at the Westside Post Office on Struck Road, the landscaping around the Greentree Neighborhood sign at Piping Rock Road and Whitney Way, and the areas around the neighborhood's park signs.  Every other year the club holds a plant sale that provides an opportunity to educate and interact with neighbors.  This year we hope to spread the word about invasive Asian jumping worms.

Working in my own garden gives me great joy.  I proudly display the granite marker from 2003 when Olbrich selected my garden for its tour and hope that each year since has brought improvements.  I like to think that I paint with flowers and that every spring provides a new canvas.  I can't wait to start this year's masterpiece! 

Learn about prairies and help restore and protect these endangered plant communities.  This prairie lily (Lilium philadelphicum) is found growing in dry-mesic to mesic areas on the Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie. 
Photo courtesy of Jane Graham

Volunteer and Learn at the Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie
Southern Wisconsin is world-famous for its features formed by glaciers, an example being drumlins -- the elongated, cigar-shaped low hills that were formed by the passing of the glaciers more than 11,000 years ago.  The Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie contains two dry upland remnants of original prairie on drumlins.  This preserve was once a part of a 7,000-acre treeless prairie that had been in place for over 4,000 years.  Only a fraction of original prairies remain due to fire suppression and other land uses.  Conservation organizations are working to preserve these magnificent features, but more volunteers are needed.  

Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie was acquired in 2011 by The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE) and is managed by the Empire-Sauk Chapter. TPE is a private nonprofit committed to the protection and management of native prairies and savannas of the Upper Midwest. TPE is a member driven organization and provides many opportunities for volunteers to engage in hands on prairie management.

Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie, a Wisconsin State Natural Area, is home to a number of rare plants and prairie insects and is located 18 miles southeast of Madison.  The preserve supports over 110 native prairie species including stunning displays of early spring wildflowers such as bird’s foot and prairie violets, prairie smoke, and blue-eyed grass.  As the summer progresses, more grasses and wildflowers add to the beauty of the site.

Join a fellow master gardener and Smith-Reiner assistant site steward Jane Graham in volunteering at Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie. You will meet knowledgeable people who are committed to conservation and preservation. You'll earn hours towards your Master Gardener Volunteer certification and have the satisfaction of helping to bring a piece of the native landscape back to health.  

MGVs can become involved in many conservation and educational activities at Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie including seed collecting, processing and planting; invasive plant and brush control; prescribed burning; citizen science projects such as monarch larva monitoring; conducting plant, bird, or wildlife surveys; photographing events and more.  To receive information on work days please contact and see for more information. 

Plant Sale - May 22 

Mark your calendars for the annual Plant Sale to benefit the Dane Co/UW Extension on Sunday, May 22nd from  11 am to 3 pm.  Watch for more information.  

Gardening in Israel - Part 2 

 by Percy Mather

While I was in Jerusalem in January, I visited the botanical gardens which were tucked in a steep valley surrounded by residential areas.  This gave me a chance to learn the names of the unfamiliar local plants and learn more about their distribution.  Many plants we grow in the US are native to the Middle East.  On an earlier trip, I discovered that the cyclamen is native to the area (see the photo at the top of the newsletter).  In the winter and spring, areas are carpeted with them, especially the shady areas near streams in the northern part of the country.  Daffodils are native and widely distributed in the Mediterranean.  In the coastal city of Caesarea, I spotted a clump growing on the aquaduct about seven feet above the ground.  This national park contains several amphitheaters built by King Herod.

Another plant growing on a cultural feature is the thorny shrub (Capparis spinosa) whose unopened flower buds are pickled to become the capers that are used in cooking.  These plants grow from tiny seeds that settle in the spaces between stone slabs.  These are hardly ideal conditions yet these plants survive.  The photo shows them on the Western Wall, the remaining feature of the Biblical Temple, the holiest site for religious Jews.  The Wall is in the news occasionally due to conflicts over access.

The papyrus reed, the first "paper," is native to wet areas and makes a very decorative addition to a water feature in the botanical gardens.  It's not just flora that caught my eye.  On a rocky coast, a colony of hyrax lived happily on vegetable scraps provided by local farmers.  These rodents' closest relative is actually the elephant.  A flock of pigeons shared the snacks.  Not pictured are numerous feral cats that cluster around dumpsters in Jerusalem and the ibex, a type of wild goat that lives in rocky areas.  Looking for interesting plants gave me a better appreciation of this historic and dry region.
Above left:  The Western Wall's women's section provides capers with a home
Above right:  Wild daffodil growing on a Roman aquaduct
Below left:  Papyrus growing in a water feature
Below right:  Israeli wildlife:  hyrax and pigeon
Photos by Percy Mather
Thank you!
It takes a committee to produce a newsletter, starting with Jane LaFlash and Janie Starzewski who keep our database up to date.  Then we have our technical advisors--Janie, Becky Bray, and Emily Meier, who taught us how to use MailChimp and answered questions.  Many thanks to members and Board candidates who contributed articles, photos, and information and to those who proofread and provided feedback:  Jane Gahlman, Dana Warren & Joanne Brown.  Comments, suggestions, and submittals for publication are welcome at  We reserve the right to edit submissions.

Thanks for being a part of MAMGA. For questions about renewing your membership, upcoming events, and more, we encourage you to visit our website and Facebook pages, and to contact us anytime at
Copyright © 2016 Madison Area Master Gardeners Association
 All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is: or MAMGA, P.O.Box 259318,
Madison WI 53725-9318

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