Meet the Garden Squad is a way to get better acquainted with some of our CSU Extension Master Gardener volunteers.
Meet Kim Douglas
If anyone is cut out to be a Denver Master Gardener, it’s Kim Douglas. She’s as passionate about learning as she is about sharing what she’s learned.
This comes naturally to Kim, a retired English as a Second Language teacher and a current Library Program Associate on staff at Denver Public Library.
Her part-time work at the library includes programming that ranges from helping people learn how to use their smartphones and tablets to hands-on work with sewing and embroidery.
“I’m on my third chapter,” she said. “I’m excited about getting and giving training.”
One of the library programs she’s involved with is called Plaza. This special program is designed to meet the needs of immigrant, refugee, and asylee populations. Kim helps participants learn and practice English, prepares them to take their citizenship test, and lends a hand to children with arts and crafts projects.
“It’s very rewarding and a wonderful experience to help people in a way where they really need help,” she said.
Kim became a Master Gardener apprentice in 2018, something she always wanted to do and the first thing she did when she retired from teaching.
Part of the attraction was gaining a sense of accomplishment by taking her gardening hobby to the next level.
“I knew I’d get a lot of information about gardening and get a good grasp of the science behind gardening in Colorado, even though I had been doing it for years,” she explained.
One of her big “aha” moments was when she learned about soil compaction and how important it is to not work in wet soil, something she used to do on weekends when she was working fulltime.
Kim’s advice to Master Gardener apprentices is to take advantage of all the information and experience within the organization. “Be active, be involved, go to meetings and special events, get to know people.”
She’s taken her own advice to heart. At last season’s DMG plant sale she designed a better system to standardize the plant signage. From her experience the previous year, she realized signs could be more descriptive to help customers find exactly what they wanted.
Kim said she also enjoys volunteering at the Master Gardener booth at the Farmers Market and helping with the Plant Select plants at the Denver Botanic Gardens annual plant sale.
“It’s fun, interesting and I develop a relationship with those plants,” she said. “I guess it’s just lust—plant lust—that makes me say, ‘I must have that plant’ like the ruby muhly ornamental grass I saw there.”
Her garden is filled to the brim with those love-at-first-sight plants. Part of the front yard is xeriscaped with native and low-water plants displayed in a big swath.
“In my garden I strive for an explosion of colors like gems and fireworks.” One of her favorite displays is a combination of plants that is in full flower around the Fourth of July.
It includes dark red daylilies planted with white Shasta daisies and highlighted with sea holly (Eryngium). She said the “funky, spiky” sea holly plants produce striking purple-blue flowers that look like small glowing thistles.
When it comes to the gem colors, she selects plants that have such rich and vibrant flowers that passersby have to slow down or stop to appreciate them.
Some of the show-stopper plants include ‘Dark Magician Girl’ daylilies, ‘Ebony Dream’ iris, ‘Black Nigra’ hollyhocks, and ‘Queen of the Night’ tulips.
In the backyard vegetable garden she plants tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and tomatillos – “everything to make a nice salsa” – plus eggplants and potatoes.
Kim said she’ll be combining her passions for teaching and gardening this season. She’s on the schedule to present programs on propagating plants and raised bed gardening at several library branches this spring.
Images provides by Kim Douglas
Text by Jodi Torpey
Master Gardener volunteer since 2005