HOUSTON – The Waldens have been Master Gardeners for years and their expertise and eye for landscaping shows in their yard on Hamilton Street.
John and Peggy Walden’s home was chosen as the Prettiest Place in Houston by the Houston Master Gardeners recently and John Walden, who has been a Master Gardener since 2006, said this was the perfect opportunity to explain the program and urge other to take the course.
“I’ve been working in this yard since 1971, but really didn’t start putting this all together until I became a Master Gardener,” said Walden. “Teaching people about color wheels for flowers, plants that bloom at different seasons, how to prepare your soil and how to have a goal are all taught to Master Gardeners.”
The Houston Master Gardeners are the group that picks the Prettiest Place in Houston. The winner is recognized with the placing of a sign in their yard for a month.
“We usually get nominations from people who tell us to go look at this yard or that yard,” said Virginia Rowlett, who was a member of the first Master Gardener Class in Houston in 2003. “There are so many nice yards in Houston, we really do have a hard time some months picking a winner.”
The Prettiest Place in Houston is picked every month during the spring, summer and fall growing season.
“You have to have a Houston zip code,” said Master Gardener Carolyn Skelton. “We urge people to call us or talk to a local Master Gardener if they want to be nominated for Prettiest Place in Houston.”
Rowlett and Skelton said picking Walden’s yard was not political. They urged the community to drive by and see what the Walden’s have done with their yard.
You don’t have to be a Master Gardener to win the Prettiest Place, but Walden, Rowlett and Skelton said being a Master Gardener does help you get and keep your yard in optimum shape.
Walden said preparing the soil and buying the right plants are his secret.
“I make my own compost and all my leaves and clippings are recycled,” said Walden. “I try to find plants that fit into my garden. Some require more maintenance than others.”
He also said his wife is due much of the credit for their yard.
“She picks the plants and buys what she wants,” said Walden with a smile. “It’s my job to plant it and make sure it grows.”
Walden said he likes Zoysia and Peggy likes St. Augustine grass. He said that is how people can tell who tends what in their yard.
Peggy grows a herb garden with chive, rosemary, thyme, basil, sage, dill, mint and parsley.
“I cook with them all the time and you can taste the difference,” she said. “They are not that hard to grow once you learn what they need.”
John Walden said his love is roses and he has 22 plants on his property.
“You can’t have a showcase yard in one season,” said Walden. “It takes time and you really do have to enjoy it. But there are things you can learn and plants you can plant that really do cut down on yard work and still give you a nice looking yard.”
Rowlett and Skelton said pretty yards improve property values and neighborhoods.
“Nice yards say so much about a community,” said Rowlett. “And usually when one yard in a neighborhood starts looking nice, people start taking an interest in their own yard and the whole street looks nice.”
And one of the neatest things about being a Master Gardener is you have to dedicate so many hours of community service to earn the title.
“We helped build the Master Gardener Park next to City Hall,” said Skelton. “They used it for a wedding a couple of weeks ago. It really is a nice place in Houston to hold a ceremony or just to sit and enjoy.”
Anyone wanting to nominate a yard for Prettiest Place in Houston can call Rowlett at 456-2377.
Anyone wanting information on becoming a Master Gardener can call the Chickasaw County Extension Service at 456-4269 and ask for Scott Cagle, Extension Agent.