WellesleyWeston Magazine

SPRING 2018

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

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mulched; how they're watered, when they were planted." Showing their best Master Gardener manners, Parker and Skinner composed a polite email with a dozen questions, including — most importantly — can you send us a photo? The Master Gardener computer files are packed with photos of dis- eased trees, creepy insects, overgrown bushes, and unidentified plants. Besides spring questions about planting and fall questions about har- vesting, inquiries about mysterious flora are among the most common questions. If they don't know the answer, the volunteers comb the Internet — sticking to noncommercial sites (.edu and .gov) that specialize in the New England region — or send email blasts to their 600 fellow Master Gardeners. The queries come from all over the world, such as questions from Zanzibar about jacaranda trees. "We figured out where jacaranda trees grow and sent them to Master Gardeners in Florida," said Parker, who owns a landscape business but honed her interrogation skills during a previous career investigating workplace injuries and child labor viola- tions out of the state attorney general's office. Sometimes the questioners are beyond help. Skinner recalled one woman who sought confirmation that pruning rhododendrons was hazardous to their health. Her mother lived in an assisted living facility, which needed to trim the bushes back to repaint the building. "She went on and on about how fabulous these rhododendrons were and how everybody knows you can't prune them," Skinner said. Despite the help line's staff 's assurance that pruning was not only safe but healthy for the plant, the woman apparently wasn't satisfied. Two weeks later, Skinner overheard another help line staffer answering the exact same question — and it turned out from the same woman. To that woman's disappointment, she got the same answer. "We were being used," Skinner said, adding that it became clear that the woman's concern was less about the rhododendrons than about the paint color the home had chosen. * * * Kanter admits to having had doubts about the Master Gardener program when she looked at the first page of the curriculum for certification. "Oh my gosh, soil for an entire day," she recalled thinking. "Could I listen to six-plus hours of a college professor?" The answer was a resounding "yes." "I've never looked at dirt the same again," Kanter said. "It was fascinating how she could make a boring topic so interesting." M E D I A B A K E R Y / E L E N A E L I S S E E V A 60 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 Master Gardeners

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