Despite the many ways a pandemic made this a strange and difficult year, 190 Master Gardeners put in more than 1,800 hours of community service in Greenwood County in 2020.

Their service and activities enrich the lives in our community in lasting and meaningful ways. The Lakelands Master Gardeners partner with the City of Greenwood on parks, topiaries, greenhouse growing, propagation, educational tours, kids’ scavenger hunts, Bee City USA, America in Bloom, Tweet on Main and Living Roof birdhouses. Their partnership with Greenwood County will develop the Veterans Center Idea Garden, along with students from Piedmont Technical College Horticulture department, community members and veterans.

A new long-term project with Piedmont Agency on Aging will provide horticulture education, workshops and horticulture therapy for seniors and children. Soon, an educational sign supporting the Clemson Rain Garden initiative donated by the Lakelands Master Gardeners will be installed at the retention pond at the Jury parking lot. And most recently, the organization has agreed to help Eleanor Rice Elementary School’s Roots and Shoots garden with renovations and educational activities.

Kelly McWhorter, executive director of Discover Greenwood, understands the far-reaching impact of the group’s volunteerism.

She said, “The Lakelands Master Gardeners are truly ambassadors for tourism in Greenwood. Without their involvement in the SC Festival of Flowers and City’s Signature Topiary Display project, the necessary work to grow and maintain the topiaries (along with their outdoor flower beds/homes) could not be possible. This display draws thousands to our area. The subsequent consumer spending produces a healthier tax base and allows for more community enhancement and improvement projects. Discover Greenwood is grateful for this wonderful group of passionate gardeners!”

Looking back at 2020 in the garden, these are some of the Master Gardeners’ favorite things in the garden in their own words:

“So many wonderful garden experiences this year but I keep coming back to my lettuce. The simple pleasure of growing something in the cold weather and being able to go out and pick my salad all winter long.’ — Kathy Watkins

“Uptown Market, Thursdays 6:30 am. Greenwood’s astir. People traveling, walking, waving. Pollinators buzzing. Here’s Tom Nelson to help! Laughing, talking, grooming flowers. Pick veggies. 9:00 it’s HOT. Plant trimmings to greenhouse, veggies to Soup Kitchen. See ya next week!” — Glennis Cannon

“Of all blooms, the Christmas rose (Helleborus niger) is my favorite. “Lo, how a Rose ere blooming...amid the cold of winter...”. The pure white bloom is a reminder of the hope, peace, and love of the Christmas season.” — Suzie Martin

“My gardening has shifted from chores to loving acts of kindness. The joy of hearing the rustling of frogs collecting bugs in my leaf mulch to the buzzing and fluttering characters collecting pollen and nectar makes my life meaningful.” — Ann Barklow, City Horticulturist

Though our local extension office is currently closed to walk-in traffic, we are still here to serve you. Contact me at stepht@clemson.edu, or 864-889-0541. Our Clemson Home and Garden Information Center is available online at hgic.clemson.edu. Visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/GreenwoodCoExtension where we will be posting timely information.

Stephanie Turner is the Greenwood County horticulture agent for Clemson Cooperative Extension.