Book shares stories of why gardeners love plants

(WBIR-Maryville) You know the dogwoods are beautiful here in East Tennessee but how much to you really know about what plants are best for our particular location?

A book written by local experts is not a botanical manual but a story book written by plant lovers.

Her beautiful yard in Maryville reflects Lisa Phipps' love of gardening.

"When you clean your house, two hours later it looks terrible. When you clean a flower bed, it's like that for months," Lisa Phipps said.

She is one of more than 100 Master Gardeners in Blount County. They are volunteer educators with extensive training who work with extension offices.

James Hutchison is president of their group.

"We answer the questions for the home gardener and help with problems they're having," he explained.

Lisa Phipps said, "Once I became a Master Gardener... then everybody comes over and I go to their house and we just share, we just share."

They share their expertise with the public. The Blount County Master Gardeners get a lot of questions from retirees who move here.

"Usually their questions are about the plant they grew in Michigan that doesn't grow here. So we thought so why not just put out a book that would tell them our personal stories of what works here," Joan Worley said.

Joan Worley encouraged her fellow Master Gardeners to write about their favorite plants. She served as editor for their book called "Right Here! Plants That Thrive in East Tennessee."

Elin Johnson said, "It's not just a book that says plant things four inches deep. It's people's experiences."

Joan Worley explained, "Some of them include a lot of straightforward here's when you plant it, here's what it does, give it lots of water. Others wrote more fanciful things."

Elin Johnson said, "It just simply was things that people love and they wanted to talk about."

She wanted to talk about hostas.

"Hostas are wonderful shade plants, perfect companions for the wildflowers and ferns on our East Tennessee woodland hillsides. And nothing is more beautiful than a big Blue Angel Hosta growing among a clump of Japanese painted ferns," she read from her story in the book.

The book is available at several places in Blount County for a $10 donation to help with Master Gardener projects.

Foothills Farmers Cooperative in Maryville

Amburn's Market

The Market at High

Out of Eden Garden Center

Vienna Coffee House in Maryville

Trillium Cove Garden & Gifts in Townsend

The book covers about 60 plants.

"It starts with, I think the first one is Abelia and the last one is Vitex," Joan Worley said.

They are in alphabetical order but it sure doesn't read like an encyclopedia.

"This is the way I ended the article. Warning: hostas can become addictive," Elin Johnson said.

Last year alone the Blount County Master Gardeners Associations logged 5,000 volunteer hours.


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