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Volunteer Spotlight – Judy Cale

Colorado Master Gardener℠ (CMG) volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing gardening, landscape and horticulture education. This month we are highlighting Judy Cale.

When and why did you join the Colorado Master Gardener program?

This is my sixth year as an Arapahoe County Master Gardener. I joined because I was retiring, and I thought it would be a fun and beneficial way to volunteer. My mother had taught me some gardening skills. I enjoyed flower gardening, and I wanted my garden to look better.

What inspires you about the program?

I love the many different aspects there are to the master gardener program. As a master gardener, I can “get my hands dirty” at one of our nine demonstration gardens and help answer gardening questions that Arapahoe County residents ask through emails or phone calls. I can present on a variety of gardening topics at Arapahoe County libraries, HOAs, gardening clubs or for Girl Scout troops and answer residents’ questions at fairs, information booths, etc. One of my favorite activities is observing bees and recording data through the Native Bee Watch program. As a retired teacher, I enjoy learning and doing research, and interacting with people.

What have you learned that you didn’t know before?

There are so many things that I have learned and continue to learn. For example, how to add soil amendments to our clay soil, the importance of mulch so the soil doesn’t dry out as easily, xeric perennial pollinator plants, and about those annoying Japanese beetles that attacked my roses for the first time last year. The list goes on! Additionally, my husband supports me, has learned many things alongside me, and helped me in the background with a variety of activities. There is so much to learn and integrate into gardening here in Colorado. Our climate, altitude, and soil all affect how we grow plants in Arapahoe County.

What would you want someone to know about the CMG Program that may not be commonly known?

When people learn that I am an Arapahoe County Master Gardener, they assume I know everything there is about gardening. I tell them that I know a little about a lot, but not a lot about a lot! My friends think I can identify every flower, tree, insect, and disease that we come across. I tell them that I can take a photo, research it, and come back to them with an answer. Master gardeners are trained in research. Using fact-based sources and educational websites, we provide answers to all kinds of gardening questions including plant identification, plant disease and diagnostics, and landscape care tips. Finally, I marvel at how knowledgeable and amiable master gardener volunteers are. And several of the volunteers have grown into good friends.

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