Macon County Master Gardeners

The Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners are a group of dedicated volunteers who give back to their communities through educational programs on gardening and community projects. Master Gardeners provide unbiased horticultural information and education to the public based on proven research, specific to the climate, soil and other growing conditions of our county.

To become trained as a Master Gardener, individuals must attend the 30-hour classroom core training and agree to provide 30 hours of volunteer service to their community. Then Master Gardener trainees are required to give 30 hours of volunteer service back to their community in approved University of Missouri Extension activities.

Contact: Jennifer Schutter, Horticulture Specialist.

Mary Beth Jennings holding her award plaque.Mary Beth Jennings, of Macon, was honored at the recent Missouri Master Gardeners Association State Conference in Jefferson City with the 2021 Master Gardener of the Year Award (small chapter category). Mary Beth is an active certified member of Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners and serves as chapter vice-president. She is respected for her integrity and for her knowledge of horticulture. When Mary Beth walks into the room, energy walks into the room! She exudes confidence and humility. She looks for opportunities to share new gardening ideas and to hear what others are trying. She loves gardening and those who garden! In 2021 she gave an interesting, well-organized program about growing orchids for her Master Gardener chapter and served on the Bylaws Committee. She far exceeds the minimum number of required volunteer and continuing education hours. Mary Beth arrives at monthly meetings with her pickup filled with plants she wants to share. She travels miles to learn about gardening. In 2021 she attended the Gardener’s Palette in Quincy and drove several fellow Master Gardeners to tour Whistle Stop Peonies, Gorin. Her interests are insatiable.

Mary Beth volunteers at least an hour a week at the Samaritan Hospital Healing Gardens during the growing season. She watches as nurses take their lunch breaks, families gather to visit, and staff assist patients with their physical therapy in this place of peaceful solitude. Mary Beth has revamped soaker hoses, added new mulch, planted new plants, deadheaded roses, cleaned up debris, tackled the Japanese beetles, and watered. She says it is a pleasure to be part of a team of several fellow Master Gardeners who maintain a place so many enjoy. Mary Beth has worked the past four years with Master Gardeners from several chapters, including Macon-Shelby, Magic City, and Kirksville Area chapters, to spruce up the Missouri Veterans Cemetery, Jacksonville, for Memorial Day. The red, white, and purple vincas they plant thrive in several small gardens that start at the entrance and line the cemetery roadway. Mary Beth also tends to the pollinator garden that has been established near the administration building.

Mary Beth has long been a “bug” person, but years ago when her daughter did an entomology project for 4-H her interest was piqued! Now she plants habitats for monarchs at home, gathers their eggs, and raises them in an enclosed butterfly house when they go into the chrysalis stage. In 2021, Mary Beth released 200 butterflies she had nurtured. For at least the last five years, Mary Beth has volunteered at the Native Butterfly House at Jefferson Farm and Garden, Columbia. Last year she assisted with the Butterfly Festival and delighted in the children’s enjoyment of the butterflies and the giant pollinator field. Mary Beth has taken the Master Pollinator class twice and has hosted tours of her farm for the class participants.

Mary Beth’s participation in community education has been a way of life for her since becoming a certified Master Gardener. Prior to 2021, she volunteered time at the Veterans Urban Farm (Columbia), the Bradford Farms Tomato and Pepper Festival (Columbia), the Jefferson Farm and Garden’s Fun Family Fishing Night (Columbia) and the downtown beautification project (Hannibal). She has shown an orchid at the St. Louis Botanical Gardens! She taught a seed starting class at Hannibal-LaGrange University. A couple years ago she gave her fellow chapter members a tour of her greenhouse and flower and vegetable gardens including a moon garden with only white flowers. Mary Beth’s fellow Master Gardeners marvel at her energy and dedication to sound, science-based gardening practices.

Mela Linn holding her award plaque with Jill Williams to her right and Jane Young to her left.
Left to right, Jill Williams, Samaritan Hospital Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Mela Linn, and Jane Young, Samaritan Hospital Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) in the Healing Rose Garden.

Mela Linn, of Macon, Missouri, an emeritus member of the Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners, was honored at the recent Missouri Master Gardeners Association State Conference in Jefferson City with the 2021 Master Gardener Project of the Year Award (small chapter category) for her work in planning and overseeing the maintenance of the Healing Gardens at the Samaritan Hospital in Macon. The Healing Gardens, though maintained by the local Master Gardener chapter, receive a great deal of support from Samaritan Hospital staff and the community.

In 2011, the Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners voted to create and maintain the two interior courtyard gardens at Samaritan Hospital. Mela Linn drew detailed plans for the hardscape and gardens. Iron railings and paving stones form a patio and seating wall in the white-themed Tower Courtyard. The larger Healing Rose Garden features twenty-two fragrant yellow roses, a Japanese maple, hydrangeas, and boxwood hedge. Bricks, purchased in memoriam or in honor of someone, encircle the rose bed. A sidewalk, patios with tables and chairs, and a fountain complete the lovely setting.

The gardens provide a beautiful sanctuary, a natural space, for quiet reflection and respite for patients and their visitors. They provide an area where doctors and clergy can meet with patients and their families and therapists can provide physical therapy. Hospital staff find the gardens to be a place to relax so they can be refreshed to return to work. The gardens provide a site for the Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners to exhibit scientifically sound horticultural practices promoted by MU Extension and Master Gardeners.

Approximately 25 Master Gardeners assisted over three years in the construction of the gardens. Since then, eight to ten Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners, under Mela Linn’s exceptional leadership, have volunteered annually to keep the redbuds, Japanese lilacs, Japanese maple, deutzia “Chardonnay Pearls”, hydrangeas, yellow roses, boxwood hedge, daisies, daylilies, hostas, Siberian irises, jonquils, salvia, grape hyacinths, lavender, and asters looking beautiful.

A bed of yellow roses.
The yellow roses in the Healing Rose Garden.

For more information about Macon-Shelby Master Gardeners, please contact your local MU Extension Center.

Master gardeners gardening

Get in-depth horticultural training and join the Master Gardeners in “helping others learn to grow.”

Missouri map with a dogwood flower overlaid on it

Missouri Master Gardeners, use this online system to report your volunteer hours.

garden journal on table with gloves

Put your plans, thoughts and results on paper to help ensure successful gardening.