Master Gardener Program

The Master Gardener Program trains garden enthusiasts to learn, grow, and teach others about plants and gardening in the home landscape. Participants receive 40 hours of training via webcasting, face-to-face, and hands-on workshops, while interacting with others of similar interests. After completing their training, Master Gardener Interns volunteer 40 hours of service in county approved projects related to gardening education to become active Master Gardeners. To maintain active status, Master Gardeners must attend at least 10 hours of county approved continuing education and volunteer at least 20 hours of service on county approved projects.

Become A Master Gardener

JCMG Thymes Blog

Johnson County Hortline: 

The Johnson County Master Gardeners are staffing the Hortline for area homeowners and garden enthusiasts. With Covid-19 safety precautions in mind the Hortline, staffed by volunteers, will be open 9-11am on Tuesdays and Fridays.

You may speak to a Master Gardener by calling 319-337-2145, leave a message, email or stop by the Johnson County Extension Office, located adjacent to the Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds at 3109 Old HWY 218 S. You may also email your questions to the Johnson County Master Gardeners at and they can assist you with questions ranging from lawn care to fruit/vegetable production to ornamentals to pest management and much more.

Steering Committee Meeting Agendas & Notes

2023 Meeting Agendas & Notes

No December Meeting
November 2023 Meeting Notes
November 2023 Agenda
October 2023 Meeting Notes
October 2023 Agenda
September 2023 Meeting Notes
September 2023 Agenda
August 2023 Meeting Notes
August 2023 Agenda
No July Meeting
June 2023 Meeting Notes
June 2023 Agenda
May 2023 Meeting Notes
May 2023 Agenda
April 2023 Meeting Notes
April 2023 Agenda
March 2023 Meeting Notes
March 2023 Agenda
February 2023 Meeting Notes
February 2023 Agenda
January 2023 Meeting Notes

January 2023 Agenda

2022 Meeting Agendas & Notes
2021 Meeting Agendas & Notes

December 2021 - No meeting was held.
November 2021 -

Agenda (110.17 KB)
Notes (163.68 KB)
October 2021 - Agenda 
Notes (179.32 KB)
September 2021 - No meeting was held.
August 2021 - AgendaNotes 
July 2021 - No meeting was held.
June 2021 - Agenda | Notes
May 2021 - Agenda | Notes
April 2021 - Agenda | Notes
March 2021 - Agenda | Notes
February 2021 - No meeting was held.
January 2021 - Agenda | Notes
2020 Meeting Agendas & Notes


Master Gardener Committee and Projects

Steering Committee Chair: Jackie Wellborn
Steering Committee Vice-Chair: Melissa Close
Steering Committee Past Chair: Doug Geraets

Master Gardener Project Brochure (Full size or Tri-fold)


Approved Core Projects

Yard & Garden Information Table

Yard & Garden Information Table

Project Chairs: Jackie Wellborn, Kay Mohling

The Master Gardener Attended Display volunteers; staff booths, answer questions, educate the public, give out pamphlets, and promote the Master Gardener Program at community events. These events include:

  1. Bur Oak, Prairie Preview
  2. Project Green Plant Sale
  3. Master Gardener Plant Sale & Flea Market
  4. Johnson County 4-H Fair
  5. Farmers Market
  6. Plum Grove guide Sundays May-July
  7. Other periodical events as they are requested.
2023 Annual Project Report
Butterfly House at Fairgrounds

Butterfly House

Location – Johnson County Fairgrounds (next the Heritage Barn)

4265 Oak Crest Hill Road, Iowa City

Project Chairs: Carolyn Murphy, Mike Murphy

Project Goal: Teaching the public about native butterfly’s life cycle, habitats, and providing educational material on gardening for butterflies and other pollinators.  We are helping raise awareness regarding the survival of the Monarch and the shrinking population of butterflies and other pollinators in Iowa.

The Johnson County 4-H Fair is scheduled for the last week of July each year.  The Butterfly House exhibit will be open Sunday thru Wednesday with training on Saturday (day before). Consider helping when we send out an email with details.  The schedule will be set up in shifts each day, although you are welcome to sign-up for more than one shift and days.  This project requires 60 Master Gardener volunteers to effectively host the 6-7,000 visitors.

No experience is necessary, a training class will be held before the fair.  It is a fun way to get core hours and meet other Master Gardeners that share an interest in butterflies and butterfly gardening in a county fair atmosphere.  Contact Carolyn & Mike Murphy,, if you have any questions.

This project came together as a community partnership with the Johnson County Master Gardeners/Carolyn Murphy, Johnson County Agricultural Association/Charlie Isaac, and Forever Green Nursery/Lucy Hershberger in 2012. In 2013 the first Butterfly House exhibit was held during the fair.

The Johnson County Butterfly House was selected as one of the Iowa Master Gardener Search for Excellence Award winners in 2015.  The awards go to innovative and impactful projects that Master Gardeners lead.  The JC Butterfly House was chosen because of the number of Master Gardeners involved in a project that reached many people.

2023 Annual Project Report

Historic 1876 Coralville Schoolhouse

Historic 1876 Coralville Schoolhouse grounds and garden
310 5th Street, Coralville, Iowa

 Project Chair: Karen Martinek

This is a brick memorial patio and bench surrounded by a perennial garden, featuring many native plants.  Also there are new plantings around the foundation and in front of the schoolhouse, as well as various beds along the perimeter with Hosta, hydrangea, daylilies, hollyhocks, and the like.  The City of Coralville provides the grass mowing, and JCMG provide the bed maintenance.  Periodic maintenance will include spring cleanup, then throughout the summer weeding, deadheading, pruning, battling garlic mustard and burdock, and re-mulching.  Work sessions are scheduled about once a month, usually on Saturday mornings, but there is always additional work that can be done individually or in pairs, on your own, whenever time allows.  Construction work is being completed this fall along the north perimeter of the property (sidewalks and street) so the 2016 growing season will no doubt see some restoration/replanting necessary in that area.

2023 Annual Project Report

Ecumenical Towers

Ecumenical Towers, 320 E. Washington St., Iowa City, IA 52240

Project Chairs:  Michael Hesseltine, John Weeg

Ecumenical Towers is a 13-story apartment building on Iowa Avenue in downtown Iowa City next to the Senior Center. The residents are of various ages and abilities who meet certain income criteria. The Master Gardeners take care of the front garden while the residents maintain the back garden. Working at Ecumenical Towers is a great way to help the residents enjoy their outdoor space while enhancing our local community through garden beauty.

2023 Annual Project Report

Demonstration Garden

Demonstration Garden at the Johnson County Fairgrounds

Project Chairs: Chris Sedrel, Laurie Roehl

This Garden Project is showcased at the Johnson County Fair in July. It demonstrates the planting and design of a garden bed including annuals, perennials, and vegetables.

2023 Annual Project Report

Downtown City Gardens

Downtown City Gardens involves improving and maintaining Iowa City-owned properties located primarily in the downtown area, but range to the City’s Northside Neighborhood and as far as City Park, Ashton House and other city locations. Collaborating with Iowa City horticulturist is a necessary to protect desirable plants, and avoid and remove infestation of those less desirable. Throughout the growing months tasks might include planting, watering, weeding, deadheading, picking up and disposing of litter in garden beds. In the spring and fall season, removing and disposing plant debris is a requirement. Work days and schedules are flexible and weather dependent. Volunteering includes opportunities to work with University of Iowa REACH students and others to plant bulbs and flower gardens, clean and prepare flower beds for fall and winter.
Project Leader Description: Volunteer(s) must have a flexible schedule and provide his / her own transportation and garden equipment, including gloves, which are required. Coordinating with Iowa City staff is essential to prioritize work / areas and to avoid duplication of effort. The ability to locate available plants from outside sources is very desirable. Volunteer(s) must have the capacity to work with others who have little or no gardening experience.
Note: Not all gardens experience success in challenging urban environments.

Project Chairs: Linda Schreiber

2023 Annual Project Report

Fair Grounds Flower Beds and Rain Garden- Fair Grounds Beautification

Fair Grounds Flower Beds

Project Chairs: Chris Sedrel, Laurie Roehl, Lavon Yeggy, Megan Garrels

This includes flower beds and patios  on the north side of Montgomery Hall and the Memorial garden on the west end of Montgomery Hall; flower bed in front of Bldg. "C"; the flower beds around the fairgrounds bldg. (not extension office but the grey bldg.); the plants in front of the butterfly hoop house;  the hostas around the trees and flowers by the highway around the signs.

We plant a few annuals in the spring, do spring clean up, mulch flower beds, and do general maintenance of deadheading,  and trimming as needed during the summer. We also do a fall clean up after the frost kills back the plants.

We do not have set hours to work on these flower beds so you can set your own hours and day  to help maintain the flower beds.

We want these flower beds to be well maintained during the summer months and especially during the county fair. The fairgrounds are used for many events so it is important that the beds are neat and well kept.

Any major landscaping needs to go through Johnson Co. Ag Association Fairboard.

Rain Garden at the Johnson County Fairgrounds

Landscape of the Johnson County Fairgrounds are maintained by Master Gardeners to show examples of home landscape.  A special project is a rain garden which showcases water conservation and management.

2023 Annual Project Report- Fairgrounds Flowerbeds

2023 Annual Project Report- Rain Garden

Firefighters' Memorial

The Iowa Firefighters Memorial in Coralville is to forever honor, celebrate and inspire the spirit, courage and service of Iowa firefighters-past, present and future. The Master Gardeners invite you to come, enjoy the gardens, and pay tribute. The gardens are planted and maintained for the public to have a peaceful place to appreciate.

Project Chairs: Barb Schintler

-- Annual Project Report

Plant Sale/Flea Market

JCMG Plant Sale & Flea Market
2023 Sale Date: Saturday, May 20, 2023
Money raised goes to support the Jo. Co. MG program including but not limited to scholarships and awards sponsored by the group. 

Project Chair: Emil Rinderspacher 

2023 Annual Project Report

JCMG Plant Sale & Flea Market Additional Information


The Johnson County Master Gardeners are staffing the Hortline for area homeowners and garden enthusiasts. Hortline, staffed by volunteers, will be open 9-11am on Tuesdays and Fridays.

You may speak to a Master Gardener by calling 319-337-2145, leave a message, email or stop by the Johnson County Extension Office, located adjacent to the Johnson County 4-H Fairgrounds at 3109 Old HWY 218 S. You may also email your questions to the Johnson County Master Gardeners at and they can assist you with questions ranging from lawn care to fruit/vegetable production to ornamentals to pest management and much more.
2023 Annual Project Report

Hortline Advertisement Flyer

Please note above we are currently not operating under typical hours.
Typical JCMG Hortline Hours:
April - October Tuesdays 9-11am, Fridays 9-11am 
November - March Thursday 9-11am

Project Chair: Mary Starry

Hospice Gardens

The Hospice Volunteer Site at Willow Creek Park

The Willow Creek Park project is located along the bike trail not far from Benton Street in Willow Creek Park.  The site is dedicated to volunteers who give their time to Iowa City Hospice.  It has three stone benches set in a forested setting and offers a place for quiet reflection.

Melanie Haupert meets with Master Gardeners at the park on Thursday mornings at approximately 9:00 AM for about an hour.  We begin the year in early April with clean up in preparation for the Hospice Walk for Dignity which begins at our site on the fourth Sunday in April.  We continue meeting on Thursday mornings throughout the year, ending sometime in late October.  Many years ago we planted 1,000 daffodils.  Most falls find us planting 100+ daffodils to maintain and increase the beautiful show for the following spring.  Iowa City Landscaping put in a path for us two years ago.  We have added a hosta garden, which is a work in progress.

Volunteers weed, deadhead the roses and hosta flowers when needed.  In the spring we rake the rose beds and the flower beds along the bike path.  Occasionally we plant new hostas.

We have a relaxed attitude regarding our work at the park.  Although we have many volunteers who give their time, we may have as few as two of us or as many as 8 or 9, depending on the need for help.  The site is an example of the benefit of consistent work in the garden.  Only occasionally do weeds threaten to run rampant.  We enjoy the camaraderie working together and chatting with passers by who appreciate our work.

Project Chairs: Melanie Haupert

2021 Annual Project Report

Buckets of Flowers & Scarecrow Contest

Johnson County Fair 4-H Buckets of Flowers and Scarecrow Contest

Johnson County Master Gardeners judge Horticulture, 4-H Buckets of Flowers and the Scarecrow Contest  annually during the Johnson County Fair last full week of July.

Project Chairs: Sharon Rude

Oaknoll Garden Project

Oaknoll Garden Project

Oaknoll provides exceptional retirement living and health services through LifeCare. Master Gardeners are paired with residents to plant and maintain the facility landscape and individually assigned raised beds. 

Project Chairs: Vicki Siefers

2021 Annual Project Report

Plum Grove

Plum Grove

1030 Carroll Street, Iowa City
Open to public May 31-Oct 31
Johnson County Historical Society oversees the site.

Johnson County Master Gardeners maintain the 3 heirloom gardens.

Project Chairs: Lavon Yeggy, Carolyn Murphy, Darlene Clausen

Honorees: Joanne Leach

Volunteer Opportunities:

Mid-April – October – Saturdays 9:30 a.m.- noon & Wednesdays 5:30 p.m.

(Note: Plum Grove is a locked site and requires a key to open. Contact chairs if you wish to work flexible times)

Schedule: Everyone Welcome!
February/March - Planning the garden for coming year, ordering seeds (held at the extension office). Order seeds for the heirloom tomatoes. Bring your heirloom seed catalogs and join the fun.

Set the date for Taste of the Heritage Garden & confirm with the fair manager the use of the tables & chairs. Set date of Heirloom Tomato Taste and confirm the date and use of tables/chairs with fair manager.
April/May - Start seed, make repairs to fences and signs, clean garden after winter, planting.  Start the planning the Heritage Taste menu
June - Planting, weeding, mulching, tending compost pile, update garden maps and labels or plant lists, planning the Tomato Taste.
July - Weeding, compost, Tasting Party.
August - Weeding, compost, Tomato Tasting Party.
September - Weeding, compost, cleaning up garden to get ready for next year.

As a group we plan the gardens, Taste of the Heritage Gardens, Taste of Heirloom Tomatoes, and anything that may come up (such as fence repairs).  
Most of the work at Plum Grove takes place in May and June.  We try to have the gardens fully planted by June 1.  The two Tasting parties take some additional work and attention.  One of the largest tasks is getting Master Gardeners lined up to help with those.  Working at Plum Grove is a continuing summer commitment, however, it is a beautiful & peaceful place to work.

The Committee Chairs job at Plum Grove is to show up every Saturday or assign someone to open, help direct the work each week and make sure any interns or new people are occupied and feel comfortable.  In general, we just make the gardens look good and make any repairs that are needed.
Project Chairs: Carolyn Murphy, Lavon Yeggy, Darlene Clausen

2023 Annual Project Report

Solon Public Library Garden

Solon Public Library Garden

NEW! Partnership with the Friends of the Solon Public Library Landscaping Committee. Assist with new plantings and maintenance. Efforts are being made to transition some of the plantings to native plants. Incorporating educational opportunities through the library to share horticulture knowledge.

Project Chair: Kathy Erenberger

2023 Annual Project Report

Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau

There is no location for our group as we arrange for speakers to talk on a variety of garden topics at the request of different groups around Johnson County.  As the chair Jackie Wellborn arranges the talks and get a Master Gardener to speak. We have a number of master gardeners that are willing to speak on a variety of topics.

We are always trying to recruit gardeners to speak on topics that they might have an interest in. Sometimes two gardeners join together and give a talk.  If you decide you would like to sign up it’s a good way to get hours. The talks are about 30-45 minutes and time for driving. Also, hours can be counted for research on the topic and any handouts needed for the talk.

Most of the time we get calls or emails from community groups that are eager to listen to anything about gardening. Topics of interest have been: garden set up/take down, good vegetables to grow, low maintenance yards, organic gardening, flower gardening in yards with deer, bees in the urban yard, hostas, starting vegetables and flowers from seed, and many more.

Project Chairs: Megan Garrels

2021 Annual Project Report

Thymes Newsletter

Thymes is the official newsletter of the Johnson County Master Gardeners (MG). The newsletter is published for MGs to communicate information about MG events, community activities, and to publish articles on topics of interest to MGs. It is published monthly except for January and August.

Each issue features a MG birthday list, a listing of MG Committee Heads for projects, and volunteer opportunities. MG projects including the Butterfly Garden, Demonstration Garden, and Plum Grove activities are also highlighted.

MGs and MG interns are encouraged to contribute information or articles for publication in the Thymes by contacting Melissa Serenda at

2023 Annual Project Report

Project Chairs: Melissa Serenda, Doug Geraets

Other Projects

Other Projects are personally chosen projects which are not on the approved core project list however still meet the standards of being educational in nature, a benefit to the public, and you are not getting paid for.

Additional Committees:
Social Events: Beth Fisher
Treasurer: Jean Holzhammer
Master Gardener Educational Sunday Training:  Linda Schreiber
Secretary: Barbara Robinson
Intern Fall Training Class: Shannon Bielicke
Volunteer Hours: Shannon Bielicke


Educational Hours

Programs which you attend to expand your horticulture knowledge. These programs need to be educational and research based.


Members Only

How to Report Service Hours

Hours requirements are as follows:

  • Interns must complete 40 volunteer hours (at least 20 of those need to be Core project hours) during their first full calendar year in the program.
  • Master Gardeners who have completed their internship will need to complete 20 volunteer hours (at least 10 of those need to be Core project hours) and 10 educational hours during each calendar year to maintain their certification.
  • Visit the Master Gardener Reporting System website to report your volunteer and educational hours online.
    • Drop Down Menus have been programmed in to help you report your Johnson County specific Core projects. Please use this Reporting Hours Help sheet when recording these hours.
  • Helpful VRS document from ISU Master Gardener State Coordinator:

CONNECT AND LEARN about your fellow Johnson County Master Gardeners
Johnson County Master Gardener DIRECTORY- please contact Shannon Bielicke, for a copy. This list is for Johnson County Master Gardener use only

Educational Opportunities

2024 Community Speakers Series

Johnson Co. Master Gardener Community Speaker Series, March 3, 2024

Natalie Ross, owner of Ross Land Studio, Designing a Natural Garden,

Chant Eicke, Senior Project Manager at Impact7G Sustainable Environmental Solutions, Rain Gardens Enhance the Environment,

Zac Hall, Associate Professor of Parks, Natural Resources, and Conservation in the Agricultural Sciences Department at Kirkwood Community College, Using Ornamental Grasses in the Landscape,

2023 Continuing Education Speakers

2023 Johnson Co. Master Gardener Continuing Education Event
Sunday, March 5, 2023


Kristine Nemec from Iowa Tallgrass Prairie Center presented about Native Plants.
Aaron Steils, ISU Consumer Horticulture Extension Specialist presented about Community Gardening.
Nick McGrath from Trees Forever presented about Planting Trees for Tomorrow.

Click here for the Event Flyer with descriptions

Recorded Program can be located:
City Channel 4 YouTube channel: (direct link to the video: )

2022 Continuing Education Speakers

Johnson Co. Master Gardener Continuing Education Event
Sunday, March 6, 2022

Speakers: Tyler Baird, Iowa City Supt. Parks and Forestry; Mike Anderson, LCMG; Jason Grimm, Executive Director, and Claire Zabel, Food and Farm Specialist, Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (IVRCD) and Grow Johnson County.

Click here for the Event Flyer with descriptions

Recorded Program can be located:
JCMG Facebook page:
City Channel 4 YouTube channel: (direct link to the video: )

Tyler Baird, Iowa City Supt. Parks and Forestry:

Mike Anderson, LCMG:

Jason Grimm, Executive Director, and Claire Zabel, Food and Farm Specialist, Iowa Valley Resource Conservation and Development (IVRCD) and Grow Johnson County:

2021 Continuing Education Speakers
Presentations can be viewed on the Johnson County Master Gardener Facebook page or on the Channel 4 Iowa CityYouTube Channel.
The Joys and Challenges of Native Plant Gardening, Speaker Eric Miller 

Recorded date: Sunday, January 24, 2021 

Iowa Master Naturalist Eric Miller has led numerous groups on field trips that highlight the unique qualities of the Iowa prairie. As the only state that is completely tallgrass prairie, Iowa’s landscape has been defined by its tall grasses and flowers. As gardeners, incorporating urban flower prairie species into the landscape will provide enjoyment for the gardener and habitat for wildlife. Goldfinches, hummingbirds and butterflies will take up permanent residence in your garden if you have prairie plants. Eric will cover the challenges of incorporating native plants in your home garden.

YouTube Link for the video:

Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden, Speaker Jo Dillon
Recorded date: Sunday, February 28, 2021 

Linn County Master Gardener Jo Dillon will provide gardeners with suggestions how to please the bees and butterflies. Our lives on planet Earth are intertwined with many creatures, including pollinators like bees and butterflies. But pollinators and their habitats are disappearing. Learn about what is happening to pollinators, what steps are being taken to protect pollinators, and how gardeners can provide much-needed habitat.

YouTube Link for the video:

How to Prepare for Possible Drought Conditions, Speaker Deb Walser
Recorded date: Sunday, March 28, 2021

Master Gardener Deb Walser presenting How to Prepare for Possible Drought Conditions. Ms. Walser will help gardeners prepare for one of the worst things that can happen to a garden – drought. She will offer advice about how to deal with another hot, hot summer like the 2012 summer! Ms. Walser knows that gardeners have to plant! Her presentation will focus on how, what and when to water during a drought and will highlight drought-tolerant plants. 

YouTube Link for the video: 

Delightful Iowa Fungi, Speakers Sarah DeLong-Duhon and Dave Layton

Recorded date: Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sarah and Dave have been hunting and studying mushrooms for decades. Together, they will share the satisfaction of identifying and learning about Iowa’s fungi and the internet tools they use. They will describe the tasty mushrooms that are found in Iowa and perhaps share characteristics of a good hunting spot as well as some cooking methods. Both are members of the Iowa Mushroom Club which is a part of the Prairie States Mushroom Club.

YouTube Link for the video:

When Wild Bees Come to Town: Why We Need Them and What to Do to Help, Speaker Dr. Steve Hendrix

Recorded date: Sunday, May 23, 2021

Dr. Steve Hendrix, University of Iowa professor emeritus, will explore the biology and status of wild bees and honeybees on native prairies, farms, and urban areas in this Johnson County Master Gardener presentation. An evaluation of pollinator supply and demand in urban areas will be discussed, and suggestions to encourage wild bees will be provided. Before retiring in 2015, Dr. Hendrix was a faculty member of the Department of Botany and Department of Biology for 40 years. During his career, he studied the ecology of plant-animal interactions before turning to bees including: insect induced changes in flower sex, effects of herbivory on plant population dynamics, and then, prairie plant reproduction in habitat and fragments. Because many prairie plants succeed as populations only if they have pollinators, he started studying wild bees in Iowa and almond groves of California.

YouTube Link for the video: 


Member Resources