Meet the Master Gardeners: Laurie McLane-Higginson


When did you start gardening?

I didn’t garden growing up, but my parents were enthusiastic gardeners. I started when I bought my first home on Vermont Street here in Lawrence. Owning land for the first time, I was excited to have space to try to grow things. I had lots of sun so I did flowers like zinnias and sunflowers. We also had a small vegetable garden.

What are your favorite plants?

Because we have mostly shade at our current house, I love hostas, ferns, caladiums, impatiens, begonias, coral bells, astilbe, and coleus. There are so many varieties of each!We also have a plot at the Pearl Clark Community Garden where we grow vegetables and flowers. It has been so much fun to have a 10’ x 14’ plot with sun! There are lots of new challenges and successes with a group of people to share ideas about gardening.

What is the focus of your garden?

I try to make each area of gardening have something to draw your eye in to seek more. I also love to have as many different textures as possible. I love color, and that is a challenge when shade gardening, but I find that the impatiens, caladiums and coleus are showy and help to make a splash.

What is your favorite gardening tip or advice?

Be patient with gardening. It takes time for a garden to mature and for you to know what you like. If something does not work in one place, dig it up and try it someplace else. Read about plants all winter to make informed decisions about planting for the next season.

Describe a gardening mistake you’ve made.

Where do I start? Probably putting a sun/partial shade plant in too much shade. I do that frequently.

What Extension Master Gardener activities have you participated in?

I became a Master Gardener in 2016. I have helped with the Garden Tour, the Native Plant Sale, the Garden Show, Hotline, Farmer’s Market, and most recently, the Enchanted Evening at the Garden event.

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

I am a retired art teacher. I taught K-12 in my 27 years in the Lawrence Schools. I started as the only art teacher for all 17 elementary schools. Whew, that was wild! Then I taught at Quail Run for 12 years, at West Junior High for 4 years, and then 11 years at Free State High teaching drawing, ceramics and jewelry. Now I substitute at the high schools, mostly in the art department.


Laurie and her husband Charles in their plot at the Pearl Clark Community Garden.

Article written by Laurie McLane-Higginson.  First photo credit: Charles Higginson.

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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