If you look up the definition of “gardener”, you will find various meanings some of which include: someone who tends or cultivates a garden; a person who likes or is skilled at working in a garden; someone who has a love of gardening and a passion to share it with others. Although you probably will not see this picture in the dictionary, you should look closely at the one attached here. This is a true gardener; one who personifies the term “Master Gardener.”
Madeline Sullivan is a true “Master Gardener”. Although she was not formally introduced to the Master Gardener program until 1996, when she became a charter member of the Hunt County Master Gardener Association, she has been involved in gardening her entire life. Below you will read in her own words about her life as a gardener.
At an agricultural show at Cross Road Mall, in Greenville, in 1996, Bob Greenway and two or three of his agriculture acquaintances began to tell me about a new program called Master Gardeners. It was to start in the early fall in northeast Texas with five counties participating. I decided to venture out, and I signed up. There were eight people from Hunt County in that first class, and we all finished. Eventually only Louis Boykin and I were left from the first Master Gardener endeavor in Hunt County. Today, Louis and I still serve together, now with a group of about forty Hunt County Master Gardeners.
I have participated with Master Gardeners in a number of ways, some of which are as follows: writing articles for the newspaper, working to get the new Outdoor Learning Center underway, serving as part of the Speaker’s Bureau to talk about wildflowers to clubs in Hunt County, attending many Master Gardener state conventions around Texas, planting daffodils beside the hill of the Audie Murphy over-pass and at the old train station in Greenville, helping to start the Heritage Garden, working many hours in the extension office, always attending the Master Gardener Tour of Homes, and participating in the program planning for the Art of Gardening and the Plant Swap.
Wildflowers are my passion. I have a little wild-flower bed at the Heritage Garden in Greenville. It is up on a hill in full sunshine. We plant it each year with wildflower seeds of different varieties. Then the perennials that are there come up, and it makes a colorful bouquet. There are two other Master Gardeners that help me in this bed, Gisela Grayson and Lissa King. I always loved the outdoors and gardening. From the time I was very young, my grandfather planted a small garden in his backyard in town. He grew greens of all types, okra, onions, and tomatoes. He and my grandmother were both good gardeners. While my grandfather enjoyed vegetable gardening, my grandmother loved to work in the flowers. I went beside her, and she told me about each group of flowers. She was a wealth of knowledge, and I wanted to be just like her. Although my mother had my grandmother’s gift of gardening, she had two little girls to raise and support, so she did not have a good chance to enjoy the pastime.
In 1968, we bought a farm in Hunt County outside of Commerce on the far south side of Scatter Branch Community. From that moment forward, we spent every weekend there working at many projects. I had a big garden, and I canned a lot, and we ate a lot. The garden was a quarter acre in size, and on the weekends, it kept me more than busy. Our son was 15 years old and our daughters were 4 and 2. They always had a dog or several, and each daughter had a pony. We rode over the hills and down the valley and across the creeks and on our road. It was a wonderful time. The years moved on, and when I retired in 1985 from my high school counseling position in Carrollton/Farmers Branch, I moved to the farm to live. A special gardening moment was when I wrote an article about my Grandfather’s Hoe. It was published in Texas Gardener magazine. (The article is attached below.) My grandfather would have been proud that his hoe of many years, which was given to me and I still have and use, was in a publication.
Madeline’s health now keeps her from participating in the activities of gardening, but she has been a true friend and asset to the Hunt County Master Gardeners as well as Texas AgriLife Extension in Hunt County.