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Mastering the art of gardening

Master Gardener Joe Suda

By Carolyn Marnon – Do you feel good when you drive down the street and see a beautiful yard? What about when you take a walk and see flowers blooming in a garden? There are many people who are lucky enough to have green thumbs. There are those who are lucky enough to get their newly purchased plants into the garden before they die from neglect. Let me introduce you to two Master Gardeners who live in Wayne.
A member of the Wayne Garden Club for ten years, Ruth Wenzel, along with her daughter and two friends, decided to take the Master Gardener class offered through the Michigan State University Extension in 2002. She loved everything garden-related, so she thought it would be a great experience. “The program offers opportunities to meet people, see new places and share what you learn,” said Ruth. “Fifteen years have gone by quickly. I’ve a been member of the Wayne Garden Club for 10 years. I have chaired the club’s bi-annual garden walk and was on the committee for our 100-year celebration. I was vice president for 4 years and am now honored to be president. I look forward to new adventures in gardening and new friendships in the best garden club. Wayne Garden Club is always open to new members.”
Being in the MSU Extension Master Gardener Program (MGP) requires only an enthusiasm for gardening and a willingness and commitment to volunteer. Applicants attend training classes to learn basic horticulture principles and environmentally sound practices. Once they complete at least 40 hours of community-based service, they earn the title of certified Extension Master Gardener. The MGP wants to train gardeners who will then educate others in their community about environmentally and economically sound practices through horticulture-based volunteer activities.
After covering 14 topics that include annuals and perennials, lawns, vegetables, fruits and fruit trees, pest management, plant science and soils for plant growth, supported by a 1000-page Master Gardener training manual, the student then commits to completing 40 hours of volunteer service before receiving his certification. That’s not all! To maintain the Master Gardener status, the volunteer must complete a minimum of 15 hours of community service and five hours of education each year. Volunteers can design gardens with schoolchildren, create garden therapy programs at senior centers, help neighborhood beautification teams with site and plant selection, and many other worthwhile efforts.
Volunteerism is something Joe Suda takes seriously. He became a Master Gardener in 2015. He had been a gardener all his life but as he got older, he figured he should go ahead and take the classes now. He says he paid about $300 for the class, although they do offer scholarships.
A resident of Wayne since 1962 when he came here after leaving the marines, Joe worked at the Wayne Assembly plant as a skilled trade apprentice for 47 years before retiring.
He gets satisfaction from seeing a picture in his head of a garden and then designing and creating it in the real world. His wife, Mary, is not a gardener. Joe met a few ladies at St. Mary’s church who were members of the Wayne Garden Club. They invited him to a couple meetings of the club; he found the members were very welcoming to him. He joined the club last year, becoming the first known male to join the club in its 100-year history.
Several garden club members joined him recently to plant four Knock-Out roses around the Blue Star Memorial on Michigan Avenue. They also planted hydrangeas and geraniums. Alas, someone admired the roses so much that they dug them up (all four of them!), covered up the holes and absconded with the plants that others worked so hard to pay for and took the effort to plant.
Joe has many photos of gardens he has volunteered in. He recently helped plant sedum around the clock at Michigan Ave E and Wayne Rd. Last year, he helped move hostas and roses at Goudy Park. He has done weeding at St. Mary’s. Mondays and Wednesdays are spent at the former Gleaner’s Farm (at the DTE Training Center on Cherry Hill Rd in Westland) where he has set up compost bins. Last year, he spent three months cleaning up the garden beds at Turtle Cove Waterpark. He’s volunteered at the WIC garden located at Venoy and Van Born. He likes flowers, and he is always willing to learn.
One of the more unusual things Joe has done as a Master Gardener was help uncover tombstones in a centuries old cemetery in Plymouth. He was impressed with all the high school kids who came out to help.
How does he hear about all these different projects to participate in? He keeps up with information on the Master Gardener website. He’s also a member of the Romulus Garden Club. He keeps his ears open to hear of other opportunities through the Wayne Garden Club and Wayne Main Street.

Flowers and plants are being stolen
Someone must have a very nice garden, thanks to the hard work and efforts of other Wayne residents who volunteer their time and donate their own funds to plant flowers in gardens throughout Wayne.
In addition to the roses that were stolen at the Blue Star Memorial, plants have disappeared out of the planters that Wayne Main Street maintains on several street corners, including the four at Wayne Rd and W. Michigan Avenue. Cannas have disappeared from those planters and from around the clock at Wayne Rd and E. Michigan Ave. Hanging planters have disappeared off the porches of residents. It is reported that someone in Wayne had their lawn ornaments taken.
While you are out and about doing your business in Wayne, keep an eye out for possible mischief, especially if you see someone digging plants up or taking flowers out of planters. Even if you aren’t able to help take part in the beautification activities, you can help by being alert to vandalism. Let’s work together to keep Wayne beautiful!

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