15 Picnic Table Setting Ideas

Picnics are such a marvelous way to satisfy our need to get outdoors, away for apartment walls.  Here are 15 lovely picnics and picnic table settings ideas to get you started.  

Enjoy beautiful picnic table settings right at the table using simple or elaborate centerpieces, table cloths, and of course a lovely set of dinner and flatware.  The latest collection for outdoor dining ware can be found in attractive melamine dinnerware in stores such as Pier One Import, William Sonoma, Plow And Hearth, and Crate And Barrel.

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Or take your picnic adventure right to the ground–but with style.  Add lots of cushions, colorful table settings, a blanket and even a very low table.

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Going to the beach?  Pack up for an even more comforting picnic also with lots of blankets, cushions and table settings.  

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Check out what’s being use for a low table in this beach picnic idea:  a wood pallet!

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For those beach picnics that run into or start into the evening, be sure to take ambient lighting, such as sparkles and candles in hurricane lanterns.  

Inspired?  I hope so!  See you at the park or beach?

Shirley,
xoxo
 

How To Make A Bold Decor Statement In Small Bedroom

So you have a small bedroom but a vivacious personality.  Well then, start your day waking in a small bedroom that makes a bold decor statement.  Here are five elements you can use.

  • Invest in a dynamic piece of art. Hang it strategically behind a bed, next to it or even an empty side wall.
  • Accent a wall with a modern grand-sized mural.  Paint it yourself, get someone else to do it or apply stenciling.
  • Paint an accent wall.  It’s a tried and true and cheap. Just be sure to use a vibrant color!
  • Add textile that has large commanding patterns.
  • Add at least one outrageously, gorgeous statement piece, such as a chair, a lighting fixture, a rug, a sculpture.
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If the expense of a dynamic painting is out of the question, you can use a folding screen.  Many are available with contemporary city scenes, over-sized portraits and wild life animals.   See my post on A Case For Divider Screens: Five Great Reasons.

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When the word “mural” is mentioned, often images of an idyllic pastoral scene comes to mind.  But thankfully, the concept of a mural has been reinterpreted for modern life styles, and excitingly so, such as this gigantic rose and the soft undulating mountains in shades of grays and blues in the following image.

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Of course, an over-sized world map on an accent wall grabs attention here.  So too does the modern light fixture.  Its straight-line design is emphasized in an overly-extended pole arm and semi-round metal light, almost comically, positioned over the bed.   

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This vibrant Caribbean blue accent wall really pops contrasting with the white, white walls and white accents.  I love how the blues in the painting, the jug, the bed cover and the chair extends the accent wall color.  This is really tiny bedroom with a big feel.

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Again, here a rich coral wall pops when contrasted with the white tufted bed, chandelier, side table and window frame and door.  The neutral cable knit throws and wood flooring cools the whole color scheme just enough to keep you from visually floating away.

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Afraid to use dark walls in a small room?  Don’t be, it a decorating myth that long ago should have been abandoned.  Dark walls, particularly when contrasted with lots of bright accenting elements, in fact make a room feel larger.  Notice how all the critical pieces pop against the dark walls?

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Patterns such as Ikat, chevon, plaid and stripes are timeless.  When woven or printed as over-sized patterns, they make a dramatic statement

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Perhaps you are of a mind that says the more color and patterns, the better.  This small bedroom is fabulous example of how to make it work.  All the colors are vibrant and in the same value.  When mixing patterns, it can some times become too busy.  Give the eyes a place to rest by adding solids as well.  Here too, you can see how the repeated use of white acts as a cohesive color, keeping all of the elements together as a whole.

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In Short . . . 

Small bedrooms can be created to give a big and bold statement when using just one or all of these five elements:  color in art, on the walls and textile.  Mix up the patterns but keep everything grounded with solid colors as well.  Add at least one dramatic statement piece.

Related Posts And More Ideas

May I Suggest A Mother And Daughter Tea?

May I suggest a Mother And Daughter Tea?  Some of the most endearing moments of being a woman, are the intimate tête–à–tête moments between mother and daughter.  Such moments often occur at any time: over a casual cup of coffee, shopping together, a lunch, a birthday–even a short ride in a car.  

Photography Shirley Byrd
Photography Shirley Byrd

In the U.S., there is an official day to honor and celebrate Mother’s Day, and an unofficial day to celebrate daughter’s day.  But I say, any day you’re alive is a good day to celebrate the relationship between mothers and daughters.  Do it with a special tea! 

Setting Up Your Own Mother And Daughter Tea occasion can be up scale or simple or somewhere in between.  It can be for a late morning, lunch or afternoon.

To Create A Basic or Somewhere in Between Tea Occasion

Here’s a list what you’ll need to create a successful basic or somewhere in between tea occasion:

Click to enlarge image.
Click to enlarge image.
  • A plan with a schedule is really critical!
  • Number of guests and invitations
  • A Menu (see menu ideas below)
  • Tea (see how to make a pot of tea at the end)
  • Arangement of flowers for a centerpiece (Optional: add several bud vases with a flower that become a take away gift for your guests)
  • Chinaware to include a lovely tea pot, tea cups and saucers
  • Flatware to include teaspoons and butter knives
  • Servers (three-tier or cake plate/platter), sugar and creamer, and a small bowl if you are serving plotted creme 
  • Linen to include cloth napkins and tablecloth

I always like to have sufficient small plates for just the tea sandwiches and then another for the dessert

 

If you want to serve a grand finale, which I highly recommend, serve a beautiful cake or a fabulous torte.

I promise you, there won’t be a crumb left!

To Create An Upscale Tea Occasion

To create an up scale mother and daughter tea or any tea occasion, follow the list above.  But here is where you break out the fine china ware, the sterling silver flatware, and the very best linen. Definitely include a statement bouquet of flowers.  Your menu items may even be more elaborate.  Without a doubt, I strongly suggest a three-tier tea tray.  Use the very best and elegant tier tray your budget can afford. In short, pull out the stops.

Styles And Where To Buy Tea Sets, China and Flatware

When it comes to styles, you won’t be disappointed with the wide range of designs from the very traditional to contemporary and minimalist to Asian, material contents and price points.  You can go with a very traditional style and purchase so that every piece matches as a unified collection.  Or just have a lot of fun and create a tea collection that is eclectic, such as different tea cup designs.  

White there are so many designers and companies to choose from, here are just a few to get you started:

Wedgewood Butterfly Bloom Teapot
Wedgewood Butterfly Bloom Teapot
  • Royal Albert of England for the traditional flower patterns in fine china. The company has been around since 1904 and the selections are simply divine. 
  • Lenox ™ carries beautiful fine china tea sets in the traditional floral and butterfly patterns to the solid colors for the more contemporary look.
  • A. Raynaud & Co from France offer an exquisite limognes collection 
  • Wedgewood Tea & Teaware, since 1759, offers a selections tea china that is simply to die for!!  You’ll find selections from the traditional to the traditional patterns with modern interpretations to contemporary.

Replacements, LTD is a company that offers an extensive selection in finding replacements pieces for china, crystal and silverware, old and new. You will need to know the brand and pattern name.

Menus Ideas

One of the fun activities for a mother and daughter tea is deciding what to serve.  A classic serving will of course include a tea often black or green.  Herbal teas are also available.  But frankly, I must say black is the first choice with green coming in second.  Why waste a perfectly good tea occasion with a herbal tea.  Okay, I’m probably just a tea snob!!

Want to know how to make the perfect pot of tea?  Start with instructions from Yorkshire Tea, U.K.  There are of course instructions on the box of tea bags, which I would recommend.  If using loose tea, The Tea Spot is a great site that even breaks down how much to use based on the type of tea.

Next high on the menu list should be scones, jam and clotted cream. In the U.S., clotted cream can be difficult to find, especially when you don’t live in or even near a big city.  I did find a wonderful recipe on All Recipes.com for a ‘mock’ clotted cream.  It was labeled easy clotted cream but that’s simply not the case.  I made it and followed a reviewers suggestion to strain the sour cream over night.  I loved it.

Ingredients for a mock clotted cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar 

Preparation:  Using a wish attachment on the mixer, whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Remove from mixer.  Hand wisk in sour cream and confectioner’s sugar until just combined.  Store in refrigerator.  

 

Tea sandwiches and pastries are an absolute must.  Your choices are huge and will depend on your taste.  Here is what I had included in my mother and daughter tea party above.

  • Vegetable Medley (from MyRecipe.com): thinly sliced cucumbers, summer squashes and radishes on *white bread. Bread should be buttered then add a layer of mayonnaise. Arrange vegetables on bread, slice to form two triangles and top with salt and coarse white pepper.
  • Egg tea sandwich: Sliced hard boiled eggs.  Cut bread into rectangle about 3″ long for (for 3 slices of eggs) and 1-3/4″ wide.  Butter top of the bread and one side.  Add a layer of mayonnaise to the top.  Dip the buttered side into finely chopped curly-leaf parsley. Top with sliced eggs, add salt and coarse white pepper.
  • Smoked salmon: Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut out a piece of white bread (or try a lovely wheat bread).  Top with butter, then mayonnaise, smoked salmon and garnish with dill.  Or try a garnish of thinly sliced of the part of a spring onion.
  • Miniclub sandwich (idea from Traditional Home magazine, May 2001): Generously butter sliced white bread; spread mayonnaise on both top and bottom slices.  Layer bacon, lettuce, tomato, and turkey on one slice.  Add the top bread layer. Cut each sandwich diagonally in quarters to make four triangles.  Use a decorative tooth pick if needed to hold the sections together.  I had used garnished each section with spouts.

Unless you’re a pastry chief, I strongly suggest that you go to a good bakery and buy a cake and pastries until your heart’s content.  As you can see, I had purchased petite fours and a chocolate torte.  I had planned on baking scones (even had dry ingredients already mixed) but ran out of time and found myself dashing off to Starbucks!

*A note on the bread:  use thin sliced bread and always, always, always slice off the ends!  Did I stress this enough?  So now you know my second pet peeve on tea occasions.

Blog Post Wrap Up

I so hope you enjoyed this blog post on mother and daughter tea parties.  Don’t wait just for mother’s day or some special occasion.  Make any day you’re alive a special get together over tea.  Have fun and dress the occasion if you like.  What’s the fun dress attire?  A lovely dress, an adorable hat and white gloves.  Okay, in the U.S., white gloves may be a bit over the top depending upon where you are (home, a friends or some lovely swanky place.)  However, if the spirit moves you, do it!!

But If you have never experienced a tea occasion, first go to an upscale hotel that serves tea, particularly those in major cities, such as New York, Chicago and Washington D.C..  Admittedly, even some upscale hotels can be wanting on serving a good tea. (I must decline to name the one that comes to my mind.) If you’re fortunate enough to travel to England, don’t miss an opportunity to go to tea.  You’ll find many excellent places for tea. (Perhaps some of my English readers would be wiling to name one or two places?  On please do!)  I can also suggest, the Ritz Carlton at Pentagon City in Washington D.C.  

Please do feel free to share your experiences in having had a mother and daughter tea
or any other occasion you took to have tea.

Comments can be left in the little boxes below!

XoXo
Shirley

How To Stylize White Place Settings For Every Day

Often used for formal occasions, white place settings may seem boring for every day use.  I say they’re equally exciting for every day use, especially when stylized with the right table accessories.  Moreover, white place settings are versatile.

The pattern design of a white place setting is what really matters.  How it’s used with other place setting pieces, such as chargers, flatwares, glasses and table accessories .

Fashionable Hostess
Fashionable Hostess

How To Make Best Use Of White Place Settings

Think of buying table setting accessories that complement seasonal uses, such as spring to summer. For every day use, keep your flatware a simply design.  But for a more formal or just to add an element of surprise, use more decorative flatware.

Don’t be afraid to just go wild on these accessories:  glassware, place mats, chargers, napkins, and vases (large and small),   For fun change up, add seasonal ornaments and name places.  Most of all, don’t be afraid to mix up white place settings with other pieces.  Here are 20 examples.

Spring To Summer

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Use clean design white place settings for a modern or minimal look.  You can easily add themes reflected in accessories, such as the coastal look in the place mats and chargers in the above image.

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Adding color in your table accessories with white place settings is always the easiest and often best way to make an every day meal more exciting.

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When the style is very casual, country, shabby chic or even vintage . . .

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from Gracious Home NY
from Gracious Home NY
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Need to Dress Up or Dress Down Your White Place Setting?

It’s really a matter of adding to or taking away.  From At The Picket Fence, in the white place setting below, accessories make it more formal with a gold charger, crystal wine glasses on tall stem, full flat ware setting, and a lovely collection of blue and white ceramic centerpiece.  But notice how in the image below, for a dressed down look just eliminate the charger.  Even the blue and white stripped table runner offers a more casual dining decor.

Fall To Winter

When seasons change is so easy to continue using white place settings by simply changing up the accompanying accessories, particularly with theme accessories for holidays or just everyday use.  Rich, dark colors in place mats, table runners and full table cloths;  acorns and pine cones; ornamental pumpkins; and mum plants are all just a few examples of table accessories that complement a fall to winter white table setting.

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Recap

  • White place settings are not just for wedings and other special occasions.
  • They’re very versatile and can be mixed with other dinning pieces.
  • Designs are available in a wide range of styles, solid colors to accented colors, as well as materials from fine china to stoneware.
  • White place settings are best suited for use when there is limited storage space for dining ware.
  • White place settings absolutely love being paired with other colors.

This is not an argument against pattered place settings by no means.  There are so many absolutely beautifully designed place settings.  When storage and budget are not an issue, by all means indulge your dining experience with decorative place settings.  Otherwise, opting for a white place setting and a variety of complementing table accessories is the way to go.

As for me, yes I do have very contemporary white with a taupe rim stoneware place settings from Denby.  And then a more formal white place setting with gold accent by Vera Wang.  I love them both and often set them out with varying table accessories.  

How about you?  What’s your favorite or wish list place setting?
Please do share.  I would love to here it!

XoXo
Shirley

17 Ideas To Turn A Dark Apartment Into A Coastal Living Haven

So you love a coastal living decor but you live in a dark apartment somewhere in the northern hemisphere.  By dark, I mean you don’t have the luxury of natural light flooding into your apartment through tall wide open windows.  

Indeed Decor  
Indeed Decor  

You don’t have white white walls–not even hardwood floors.  And enjoying the easy going, relaxed life style of coastal living can only be reached through a short vacation.  Still, you long to be there.

Elements for an east coast beach style decor

While it may not be possible to achieve sun drenched light against soft white walls, a sandy floor outside your door and blue blue water to view, there are some key elements you can bring into your apartment–namely through color, furnishings and accessories.  Let’s start with color. 

East Coast Beach Colors for a Dark Apartment

When painting your apartment walls is an option, go for deep intense colors: navy or indigo blue; a deep turquoise; or even a deep coral. 

Navy and blue paired with contrasting white in soft furnishings and accessories is of course a classic nautical theme color scheme. The key is to add lots of lighting fixtures, especially in the corners and next to seating areas.  Add multiple lighting styles, such as ceiling lights, table and task lamps.  

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elle decor
Decor Pad
Decor Pad

This New York apartment uses accent walls in navy blue with white marbling walls, and a sofa, picture frames and lighting and other elements in white.  A few beach accessories, such as pictures and an over-sized sea shell would suggest the flavor of being near the ocean. 

apartment therapy
apartment therapy

Deep turquoise walls can always be made to reference the deep waters in the Caribbeans with a few beach-theme accessories.  Which accessories would you add to glam bedroom such as this one?

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gall home

Of course, nothing is really set in stone, is it! The living room below brings together a lovely light turquoise on the wall and uses shades of blue in furnishings, the fire place, window treatment and accents. Did you notice the turquoise bench seat?

home design lover
home design lover

You may find coral a bit much for your dark apartment living room walls.  I’d have to agree.  However, it does work well in a small powder room, a bath room, even as an accent wall in a bedroom.  

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pinterest

When painting the walls is not an option and you’re looking at apartment white walls, you can reverse where to add coastal colors.  Add these colors in soft furnishings and accents.  With this color scheme you can even go to a lighter hue in blues, turquoises and corals.

Here, against the white walls coral and blue come together beautifully to create a warm and restful reading vignette.

completely coastal
completely coastal

You can use lots of blues or turquoise in your accents, such as a gallery wall with beach and seaside blues against a white wall.  Note here how the blues make the white wall feel even whiter.

completely coastal
completely coastal

In the image below, the soft light turquoise pillow accent and ottoman keeps the white sofa from fading into a white wall.  Don’t you just love the sea shell collection in the serving tray?

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digs digs

Elements For A Relaxed And Casual Look And Feel

If you want your east coast beach decor to look and feel more relaxed, add slip covers to your sofa and chairs.  Wicker furnishings softly speak relax “in this spot.” Complement your furnishings with your beach theme accessories.

coastal style blogspot
coastal style blogspot
pinterest
pinterest
completely coastal
completely coastal

Elements For When You Already Have a Decor Scheme

You may have the same issues I have:  dark apartment with furnishings and other accessories already in place.  My living and TV rooms already have chocolate painted accent walls.  And I have taupe over-sized sofas.  Moreover, I actually live in a beach town!  But I’m excited having discovered two fabulous examples by just adding a beach theme gallery over a sofa wall.

completely coastal
completely coastal
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completely coastal
completely coastal
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completely coastal

Finally, Be Sure To Have Fun Displaying Your Beach Theme Accessories!

Here’s smile-filled idea to remind you of your last vacation to blue waters, frame your flippers in a shadow box, add a little sand or netting and a star fish:

webkize
webkize

Ready to take the plunge and dare to re-make your dark apartment decor
with happier times at the beach?  Talk to me!  What’s stopping you!

XOXO, 
Shirley

Part 2 How To Satisfy A Serious Gardener’s Itch But You Live In An Apartment

In Part 1 How To Satisfy A Serious Gardener’s Itch But You Live In an Apartment, I discuss becoming a volunteer master gardener.  The benefits of this type of gardening is that you gain a wealth of horticultural and agricultural education and experiences, as well as provide invaluable services to your community.

Part 2 on satisfying a serious gardener’s itch is about participating in community and urban farms.  This too is generally a volunteer service.  The focus, however, is to grow and provide fresh produce in urban communities where such foods are simply not available.

Moreover, it empowers a community through agricultural and environmental hands-on education.  (I once heard a little boy’s first exposure to an urban garden say he thought food just came from the grocery store.  He had no idea that a seed is planted in the ground, is cared for, grows and is then harvested!)

The American Community Garden Association, which serves the United States and Canada, is a great place to start to learn more about community gardens.

 

Shout Out to Growing Power Inc.

This gardening project was started by Will Allen.  His project is located in my old home town, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Perhaps I’m just bias.  But here’s why:

In 1993, Growing Power was an organization with teens who needed a place to work. Will Allen was a farmer with land.

Will designed a program that offered teens an opportunity to work at his store and renovate the greenhouses to grow food for their community. What started as a simple partnership to change the landscape of the north side of Milwaukee has blossomed into a national and global commitment to sustainable food systems.

Since its inception, Growing Power has served as a ”living museum” or “idea factory” for the young, the elderly, farmers, producers, and other professionals ranging from USDA personnel to urban planners. Training areas include the following: acid-digestion, anaerobic digestion for food waste, bio-phyto remediation and soil health, aquaculture closed-loop systems, vermiculture, small and large scale composting, urban agriculture, permaculture, food distribution, marketing, value-added product development, youth education, community engagement, participatory leadership development, and project planning.

— -From Growing Power History page

Rent Space For Urban Garden For Your Own Consumption

Another type of community gardening is where a municipality rents small plots of land to individuals to grow food, herbs, etc. for their own consumption.  Often a large plot is allocated, such as the corner of a block.  The plot is shared by renters with individual spaces separated with a short fence, such as a chain link or chicken wire.  

These types of gardening plots are difficult to find given the value of land in a city.  But it’s definitely worth looking into.  Also, there may be farmer(s) with land just outside of the city who rent small plots of land to individuals.  Check with your local municipality, county master gardening office and other local community gardening programs.

Okay, in short you could say that Parts 1 and Part 2 on How To Satisfy A Serious Gardener’s Itch But You Live in an Apartment is all about volunteering and giving back to the community.  And you’re right!  But what better way to learn so much about horticulture, agriculture and the environment?  You meet and work with a fabulous group of people.  You share what you’ve learned with others.  You enrich your own life.

In Part 3 on satisfying a serious gardener’s itch I will focus on a variety of ways you can actually garden on your apartment balcony porch.

So, what do you think?
 Are you already participating in a community garden?  
Please do share your experiences and where are you located!!

Part 1: How To Satisfy A Serious Gardener’s Itch But You Live In An Apartment

This post is Part 1 of 3 on how to satisfy a serious gardener’s itch but your dilemma is that you live in an apartment.  Here are three ideas to scratch that itch.

Butterfly garden in Lake County, FL where I did volunteer work.
Butterfly garden in Lake County, FL where I did volunteer work.

 

  1. You can become a master gardener.
  2. You can rent a community garden space, if your city offers this.
  3. And yes, you can garden in your apartment but just on a smaller scale. 

 

 


First, let me explain what is a serious gardener’s itch:

  • you love getting your hands dirty in soil; 
  • you love planting and watching plants grow; 
  • you can’t go near a garden center without buying a plant;
  • you watch gardening television and cable channels, read magazines and books on gardening;
  • you love planning and talking gardening with anyone that will listen; 
  • you love visiting and touring gardens;
  • you make it a point to know a beneficial bug from one that will destroy your plants; and finally,
  • you can’t imagine life without a garden–any kind, small or large, ornamental or edible.

Part 1 of this three part series is about becoming a master gardener.

Trust me, being a master gardener is one of the most proudest things you can do, not only for yourself but for your community.  I was a master gardener totaling 5-1/2 years over three different states.  The more I learned, the less I knew because there was always something new to learn.  Being a volunteer master gardener is both challenging and rewarding.  

Every county in the U.S. (hope I’m not overstating this) has a Master Gardener program as part of their horticultural extension program.  Activities and requirements may vary but basically they have the same goal:

Advise and educate the community in best practices for gardening and provide the latest information in horticulture.

Here’s how it works:

  • You submit an application to your county horticulture extension office.
  • Once accepted, generally you pay a fee to cover the books and materials you will receive.  This can be a bit expensive but the quality of the books and materials are well worth the cost.
  • You attend classes for about 3 weeks.  Topics cover an introduction to the program; a tour of the facilities; and most important, a wide and very thorough training on plants (ornamental and edible), planting guidelines, lawn care best practices; beneficial and harmful insects, and more.  Your education doesn’t stop with just that class but continues throughout your service through monthly meetings and seminars.
  • You graduate.  Often you are asked to volunteer in the various areas of the program for a certain amount of hours to learn how each area works.  After which you can just volunteer to work in a specific area or just continue to rotate and work in the different areas.
  • You are a trainee until you complete a certain amount of hours.  Then you become a full fledged volunteer.  You are expected to volunteer a certain amount of hours (generally 20 a month) to retain your status as a volunteer master gardener. 

Areas of service may vary but here are a few that tend to be consistent from one county to another: 

set up for the annual plant sale in Lake County FL - open to the public
set up for the annual plant sale in Lake County FL – open to the public
  • Answer questions from the public.  This is done in a variety of ways but is most often done through dedicated methods from answer a telephone hotline to working on the mobile units.
  • Work in one or more of the theme gardens from edibles to ornamentals to lawn care to even a bog.
  • Assist or even lead in annual or semi-annual events open to the public.  Activities can range from plant sales to garden exhibits to field trips to attending or conducting a seminar.

 

Field trip to the Butterfly Rain Forest at the University of Florida.  Did you spot the butterfly in this image?

The white butterfly:

Butterfly chrysalis

White and black butterflies emerging from chrysalis
White and black butterflies emerging from chrysalis

In Summary,

There are many bonuses to being a volunteer master gardener.  I’ve already a few above.  You also get work with groups of wonderful people and you’ll meet a wonderful side of the public.  The knowledge and experience you get, you can bring home to create a lovely garden in your apartment–and with less “crop” failure!  All the while, you’ll be satisfying that gardener’s itch while living in an apartment.

You’ll find lots of information on becoming a volunteer information on your county extension office website.  However, if you have any questions on what’s it like, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me.  I would love to share with you my wonderful experiences of having been a volunteer master gardener.