DUQUOIN, Ill. — Although she claims to have something less than a green thumb, Du Quoin’s Karen Glynn she has always enjoyed gardening.
After retiring from a career as a college professor, Glynn taught business, marketing and consumer behavior at the University of Northern Iowa and DePaul University, she and her husband retired in Du Quoin.
In retirement, Glynn returned to her figurative roots, earning Master Gardener status. Earlier his year, she was named an Outstanding Master Gardener by the University of Illinois Extension Service.
“I’ve gardened all my life,” she said. “My husband and I retired down here 10 years ago from the Chicago area. In Chicago we lived in an apartment. Beyond house plants, we didn’t do anything. We have a small corner lot, a small. It’s perfect for us for playing around and doing what we want.”
The Master Gardener program is administered through the U of I Extension Service. Applicants take a 16-week course.
“It starts out with basic botany,” Glynn said. “After you get through with the botany and soil, to soil nutrients, into types of plants, perennials, annuals, shrubbery, turf. It’s very comprehensive. There is enough there you can make it whatever you want. You can keep it very fluffy, or you can get really into how do I communicate very complex concepts.”
She said the program was perfect for her needs.
“It serves three things I require – it had to have an intellectual capacity, you can really get into the botany and science and things, or you can keep it within ‘that’s really a pretty flower,’” she said. “Another requirement for me is it had to have a physical component. The last reason, I wanted something with a social component. It’s very social. There are only 12 master gardeners in Perry County. We do a lot of programming. That’s fun, I enjoy that, developing programs for kids.”
And, it is the service component that results in a person being named an Outstanding Master Gardener.
“We ran a part of a program that a colleague of mine put together in the Du Quoin public schools,” Glynn said. “It was a six-week program through the auspices of the 4-H. We took them through basic botany. We had digital microscopes. We took seed, different types of soil, seed germination. We dissected seeds that were germinating and just examined these all pretty closely.
“We provided grow bags for them. They took their plants home and they enjoyed it a lot. They like taking flowers apart. It’s quite fun under the microscope.”
Despite the accolades, Glynn said lack of rain in September and early October took a toll on her garden.
“Right now, it’s pretty horrible,” she said. “It’s been so dry and it’s the end of the season. It was quite lovely. I have some pictures from earlier this summer. I’ve contracted my gardening since I’ve gotten older. I have four raised beds and a little arbor.
``I’m doing primarily the native flowers, the blazing stars, the angelonias. Those are kind of fun to work with. I have a couple different varieties of black-eyed susans, a dwarf and other species. One of the big endeavors is we take care of the gardens in front of the grandstand at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.”
Participating in the Master Gardener program has not only provided mental and physical exercise for Glynn, but has also given her a deeper appreciation for her adopted home.
“It gives me a deeper appreciation of Southern Illinois,” she said. “I knew about Giant City. I knew nothing about the Cache. I maintain two pollinator plots for them (at the Cache River Wetlands Center). I didn’t know anything about the Cache, period. I was like ‘my goodness, cypress trees.’ That was a sheer pleasure. We have a very beautiful area we live in. And, also, to give back to the communities, to promote our communities to each other.”