Meet a Master Gardener Volunteer Series: Shamrock Park Demonstration Garden

Welcome to our “Meet a Master Gardener Volunteer” blog series, where we delve into the inspiring stories and impactful contributions of the passionate individuals who form the backbone of our gardening community. These dedicated volunteers bring horticultural expertise, community spirit, and a love for sustainable practices to the forefront of our Master Gardener Volunteer (MGV) program. Through this series, we aim to shine a spotlight on the diverse projects, experiences, and motivations that drive these green-thumbed enthusiasts. Each interview is a window into the rich tapestry of knowledge and community engagement that defines the MGV experience. Join us as we uncover the unique journeys of our volunteers, highlighting the ways they cultivate not just gardens, but thriving and connected communities.

Headshot of master gardener volunteer.
Master Gardener Volunteer JoAnn Glazewski

Meet a Master Gardener

JoAnn Glazewski is a MGV in Sarasota County Florida. JoAnn, who embraced Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ before graduating as an MGV in 2020, designed a home garden that is “beautiful and comforting to me, requires minimal care, supports wildlife, and minimizes any impact to the adjacent Gulf of Mexico”.

Tell us something about yourself, and what sparked your interest in gardening

I grew up in Connecticut with three siblings, in a family led by a mother who was raised during the Depression. We had a huge vegetable garden, which we harvested and preserved, and which helped feed our family throughout the winter. We were taught how to recognize and utilize plants. Everything was reused and repurposed. Nothing was wasted.

My first culinary specialty was chokecherry pie, which I baked in my Easy Bake Oven.  We helped my mom make jellies and wine from chokecherries, dandelions, gooseberries and elderberries. Jewelweed tea was applied to poison ivy and other skin irritations.

I was always attracted to blooming plants. My personal gardens were filled with mounds of roses and lilacs. Blooming orchids got me through New England’s long, cold, dark winter months.

We purchased our South Venice home in 2010. I still worked as a registered nurse in Connecticut and would only have long weekends and vacation days to spend in Florida. I didn’t want that time to be spent maintaining a yard. My initial goal was to utilize the small space and minimize upkeep.

First, I carved out a weed-free area. I built shell pathways and a shade house for my orchids, which I moved down in suitcases with every visit. I added the largest garden shed available, both for storage and to block weeds. I added shrubs to anchor the garden space and stabilize the terrain.

Connecting with nature

I spend most of my time in natural areas. As I walk the beach or bike the Legacy Trail, I am aware of our native plants. Every day shows me a new blooming display. I note its preferred habitat and realize how useful it can be in my yard. Natives are adapted to survive without my intervention. I know that a bit of nurturing can make them beautiful. The gardener’s mantra is, “I can save this plant.”

I am a scuba diver, and dismayed by the oceans’ degradation. I have researched what causes pollution. This research heightened my concern because we live near the shore. Planting native and Florida-friendly plants allows me to minimize my chemical footprint.

Meandering path through Shamrock Park Demonstration Gardens.
A meandering path through demonstration gardens at Shamrock Park and Nature Center.

Shamrock Park and Nature Center

The demonstration garden at Shamrock Park and Nature Center has always been an inspiring place for me. Today, most plants in my yard garden are also found in the Shamrock Park demonstration garden—and both gardens are set in a scrub environment.

Shamrock Park demonstration garden showcases thriving, mature native and Florida-friendly plants. A goal of the Shamrock demonstration garden is to bring as many of our Sarasota County neighbors as possible into our garden and inspire them to adopt positive Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ choices for their landscaping.

To accomplish this goal, MGVs conduct a docent-led once-a-month tour. The Shamrock Park demonstration garden is well-situated to attract most park goers. It is adjacent to Shamrock Park  and Venetian Waterway Trail. During the garden tour, bikers, runners, or dogwalkers can stop by for a snack. I hide painted rocks to encourage children to wander in from the playground. It is rare to visit our garden when others are not enjoying it, like the children I see who came from the playground looking for Atala butterflies, neighbors walking dogs and gardeners visiting to get ideas.

“MGV prepared plant lists available for visitors in hand-painted info. box at Shamrock Park Demo Garden.”

In the demonstration garden, a library box is always open to browsers, who can read about the selection and maintenance of the plants there, as well as Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ practices.

Tell us about the Master Gardener Volunteer Demonstration Garden at Shamrock Park and Nature Center

As the Shamrock Park demonstration garden lead, I respected the founding gardeners plant selection and placement, and expanded the variety and number of native and Florida-friendly plants. We have a terrific team of engaged MGVs committed to the care of our plants. MGVs connect with the community as members of local garden clubs and plant societies, and provide displays at community events.

I hope our garden continues to provide an important contribution to the Shamrock Park and Nature Center.

To learn more about the Sarasota County Master Gardener Volunteer program, visit our website.

Group of master gardener volunteers holding florida friend landscaping banner
Master Gardener Volunteers promoting Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ through their gardens and tours at the Shamrock Park Demonstration Gardens.

The Shamrock Park demonstration garden is one of several educational gardens supported by Master Gardener Volunteers. It is located at across from the Shamrock Park and Nature Center, 3900 Shamrock Drive, Venice. The UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County Educational Outreach Gardens (EOG), Osprey Trail Junction and Venice Urban Forest are three other locations open to the public.

To learn more about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and native plants, visit our Eventbrite page to register for upcoming events, classes and tours.

JoAnn Glazewski co-authored this post, supplying written answers for questions posed by UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County.

Ashley Ellis, Residential Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator in Sarasota County.
Posted: January 24, 2024

Category: Agriculture, Community Volunteers, Conservation, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Natural Resources, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, Wildlife, Work & Life
Tags: Demonstration Garden, Master Gardener Volunteer, Pgm_HortRes, Shamrock Park, Volunteer

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