Colorado Master Gardener: Thanks, Deb
April 19, 2016
Sixteen years ago next month, Deb Babcock wrote her first gardening article for Steamboat Today. She researched dozens and dozens of gardening topics and created a trusted, well-informed series of gardening articles that have become a must-read for our community. And this spring, she's putting away the keyboard in an effort to find more time for gardening and travel.
The Blue Sky Pottery shop Deb owns and operates in Steamboat Springs has many tributes to her love of gardening. Creating paintings of landscapes, vases to hold flowers and ceramic vegetable garden identifiers labeling, 'Fennel,' 'Carrots,' and 'Not a weed' will fill her time now. I visited her at her shop recently to ask her what it has been like to be the main author of the weekly Master Gardener articles.
When asked, Deb said her favorite subject matter changed from time to time.
"It's kind of like when people ask what my favorite hike is," she said. "It's usually the last one I took."
Researching the science behind different gardening subjects proved as valuable and informative to Deb as the resulting article did for readers. She mentioned that figuring out what kinds of flowers grow best at our elevation brought her the most enjoyment. So did figuring out how different it was to garden here as compared to her native Michigan.
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"My favorite thing that I learned was how to garden in an environment so different from Michigan. Writing the articles was an opportunity for me to learn as much as the folks did from reading them," she said.
All the research Deb did to learn about a subject was key to her own successful gardening. She noted, "I'm amazed by how much research-based information from universities is out there."
Her fellow Master Gardeners sometimes amazed her, as well. She said she was always surprised by the projects other Master Gardeners were working on. She learned about a sensory garden that another Master Gardener was working on at the Humble Ranch, and it inspired her to sponsor and build a sensory garden at the Yampa River Botanic Park.
"Kids are usually told to not play in the garden. This sensory garden has plants that kids are able to touch, smell and even listen to," she said of the garden she tends at the park.
While Deb won't miss the obligation of a weekly submission, she will miss the many comments she regularly received on her articles and subject matter. She continues to be amazed, even after all these years, by how many people stop her in the grocery store or on Main Street, or come into her shop to let her know what an article meant to them.
"It was fun, so many comments like, 'I put your article on my fridge!'" she said. "Now, I'll be able to cut those articles out and learn from others."
With Deb's "retirement" from writing and coordinating the weekly gardening articles, you will see plenty of new writers, most of them CSU Master Gardeners or their guests who, like Deb, will provide solid, research-based information.
There will also be articles promoting many of the gardening events happening around our community. They'll still be relevant, super-informative and 'clipable.' But they won't be Deb Babcock's.
For your knowledge, professionalism and many, many hours of time we all say, "Thanks, Deb."
Todd Hagenbuch is an agriculture agent for the CSU Routt County Extension.