Monday, November 30, 2015

Secret Life

Since Labor Day I have been living a secret life ... and hiding it from you.  Hiding my secret life as a coed.  Well, maybe not quite a "coed", but i am back in school. 

The Virginia Community College System has a strong emphasis on one- and two-year professional training in a zillion specialties.  This is not the traditional college-transfer stuff, but rather preparation to go into the work force in just one or two years.  

[Full disclosure:  my first two jobs out of grad school were in the VCCS system, so I am a fan!]
Entrance to campus
Fortunately for me the local CC specializes in Horticulture, among many other things.  The Hort program is centered on their western campus, which is about 30 minutes west of me, but their central campus is only 5 minutes away and some of my classes are held there, too.

In September I started in "Principals of Horticulture" - a survey course - and "Landscaping Plants I" - woody plants.  For this semester we have studied trees and shrubs that bloom in the fall and winter, as well as the conifers.  I've learned something nearly every week, and, I have loved every minute of it. 
Four greenhouses for propagation and winter storage
Once a week I volunteer a few hours working in the greenhouses and demonstration gardens.  I've been doing things like weeding, planting pansies, digging out dead annuals, deadheading perennials and cleaning up inside the greenhouses .... in other words, exactly the same things that I have been doing at home ...  well, except for the greenhouse part!

A demonstration space with conifer garden behind it

Cleaned-up perennials in demonstration beds
Winter beds ready for covers

and, covered

My favorite view of the demo spaces
Exams are the next two weeks and then I can register for Landscaping Plants II.  Once I have finished that, I will move into the landscape design classes, and maybe a bit of flower arrangement.
I can hardly wait!


  1. Hi Webb,
    You are one ambitious "retiree" for sure! Good luck with the Hort. classes and am sure you will ace those exams. Do you follow Garden Rant, which is a co-op collective Blog? It's wonderful and very educational. I burned out volunteering at the Dencer Botanic Gardens here but it took five years. Hope that doesn't happen to you!
    Diane in chilly
    but sunny Denver

    1. Am not familiar with that blog, but will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

      Everyone tells me to do the Master Garden program, or to volunteer at the local botanical garden, but am not sure I want to make that big a commitment yet. I want to enjoy my space a bit, first. Raining here yesterday, today and tomorrow - yuck! but at least it means i don't have to water the new shrubs this week.

    2. Hi back Webb,
      Too bad you can't ship some of that rain out here -- or to California, even better. When we lived in the Tidewater years ago, it was in military housing on a Naval Air Station and we couldn't garden in the M.O.Q. All these years later and knowing what I now know about gardening, I would love another shot at Southern Maryland. :-)
      Master Gardener programs are very very demanding and my friends who have gone through it say it is almost like having a job. I bet volunteering at your beautiful Botanic Garden there (Ginter, is that right?) would be a lot less stressful. Hope you will visit their lovely holiday light show and again post about it. Best regards,
      Diane in Denver

  2. How cool is that?! Are you doing this "just for fun" or do you see another career on the horizon? I feel I have missed my calling (should have had an outside hort job instead of indoor high tech one), perhaps you have too? Lifelong learning is wonderful, there is so much out there fun and interesting. You go, girl!

    1. This is purely for me. I wish that things like architecture or landscape arch. had been open to girls when I was in school. Coming from a whole family of engineers, I think i would have like either, but i was training to be a wife and mother - neither of which worked out so well!

      Am really enjoying learning some of the science behind all the things that Grannie (sic!) and my best aunt taught me. Plan to never work for a check again!

  3. Hey, just catching up. I'm reading with interest about you going back to school around horticulture. Very cool.

    I was just accepted into the Master Gardner program in RI which starts in January. It looks a bit daunting but I'll let you know how I make out.