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The first in our new Meet the Masters series profiling McHenry County Master Gardeners

Meet the Masters: Milena Buck

Published: Friday, Sept. 30, 2016 2:31 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Milena Buck

Milena Buck

Hometown: Woodstock, formerly New Jersey

Year you became a Master Gardener: 2007

What is your background, and how did you get started gardening?

I actually have a background in sales/training in the skin/hair care industries and an MBA in Business. After moving to Woodstock more than 20 years ago from New Jersey, it seemed only natural to have my own garden since I had more space. While raising my two sons, we would visit orchards and you-pick farms. I tried to get them involved with gardening, which only increased my love for gardening and for learning as much as possible about gardening.

What is your gardening specialty and why?

I especially love vegetable gardening. There’s nothing like the taste of the first tomato off of the vine! There’s always so much to learn about vegetable gardening. I volunteer at the community garden in Harvard and have learned so much about vegetable gardening. It changes daily.

I used to be creeped out by insects, but now I find them fascinating. I love seeing the variety in my garden.

What’s in your garden? Tell us a bit about it.

My garden is a more natural, mostly shade garden. That doesn’t stop me though from planting and experimenting with sun-loving plants. I do have a vegetable garden, where I mostly plant tomatoes and peppers. My borders are planted with hostas and daylilies. I like to incorporate vintage flea market finds throughout to add some interest.

What motivated you to become a Master Gardener? What projects do you volunteer for within the organization?

I enjoy learning and was drawn to the idea of learning more about many areas of gardening. I wanted to share gardening with children, including my own. So, when the opportunity to become a Master Gardener presented itself, I jumped at it.

I have been involved in so many areas. The great thing about being a Master Gardener is you have many opportunities to become involved. I have been the president/vice president and secretary, chair of Gardenfest, on the Extension Council Board, involved with Ag in the Classroom, a Gardenwalk volunteer, Harvard community garden volunteer and more.

What tips do you have for someone who is just getting started, either with their own garden or in training to become a Master Gardener?

In your own garden, don’t be afraid to experiment and learn. Plant what you like and learn how to do it correctly from the beginning.

Training to become a Master Gardener is a lifelong learning experience. We always say we don’t know anything ... we are always learning. The group of Master Gardeners are the most wonderful people you will ever meet, and they share a common interest. You will have fun learning while volunteering.

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