Meet the Master Gardeners: Susan Rendall


When did you start gardening?

I started gardening at my mother’s knee. She tended a fruit and vegetable garden to provide food for our family, but she didn’t demand that I help. When I was in the first grade, I had short rows of my own to plant and care for. I was so diligent about weeding that I pulled the flower seedlings out of the ground because I didn’t recognize them.

I now have an acre of my own that is best described as a Country English Garden, as well as four acres of prairie. My husband, Doug, provides much of the labor in our garden as well as picking the berries.

What are your favorite plants?

  1. True lilies. I saw elegant stands of hybrid and Asiatic lilies at the Missouri Botanical Garden years ago, and I knew that I had to have them in my own garden.
  2. Native trees and shrubs. They support ecology and the circle of life.
  3. Clematis: I like their vertical growth that gives the garden height, and they come in so many different colors. A couple are even Kansas natives.

What is the focus of your garden?

The focus of my garden is beauty and design. My goal is to create a beautiful space that I can enjoy. As I’ve gained experience, I’ve becoming more aware of how native plants support ecology. That was not part of my focus in the beginning, but now I’m trying to bring natives to my garden that are also beautiful.

What is your favorite gardening tip or advice?

First, always read and educate yourself about your plants. If something isn’t working in your garden, research what might be happening. You’ll get the best results if you combine book knowledge with the knowledge you get from working in your garden and becoming aware of water requirements, your soil and sun exposure. Second, gardening doesn’t stop when you put the plant in the ground, so don’t plant a bigger area than you can take care of. This includes mulching, watering, deadheading and weeding.

Describe a gardening mistake you’ve made:

Putting a plant in the wrong location!

What Extension Master Gardener activities have you participated in?

I became a Master Gardener in 2008 after participating in the same program in Wisconsin for three years. I’ve been a co-chair of the Monarch Watch demonstration garden for four years. I’m a member-at-large on the Board of Directors, and I’ve given presentations in the community. My garden has been on the Garden Tour twice. Master Gardeners are hosting a fundraiser in my garden on July 20th, 2019, where guests can enjoy wine tasting, herbal treats, local music, and a Master Gardener presentation on planting common herbs that can be used in cooking. Tickets can be purchased under the Upcoming Events tab on our website.

What is/was your job outside of the Master Gardener program?

I was the costume shop manager for the University of Kansas Theater Department. I worked with many designers and artists as I made costumes for theater productions. I discovered that I could use their design elements in my own garden. All design elements used in art can also be used to add beauty to your garden.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, an application can be found under the “Apply” tab on our website header.  

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