Meet the Master Gardeners: Bob and Diane Oakes


When did you start gardening?

Diane: I dabbled in things like tomatoes when I was employed, but I didn’t give gardening my full attention until I retired in 2008.

Bob: Diane is the gardener.  I’ve always just been the hired help.  I do the heavy lifting in the projects, like recently creating a new garden bed in the front of our house for annuals.

What are your favorite plants?

Diane: That is like choosing which child I like best! It depends on the day. When we started we planted a large amount of coneflowers.  Our daughter majored in biology and chemistry and did a research project on echinachea. She gave us a lot of her extra plants. From there we started expanding the garden a section at a time.

Bob: My favorite plant is the bottle brush buckeye shrub, which is the only plant I have ever picked out and planted on my own.

What is the focus of your garden?

Diane: We have an eclectic garden because I pick out whatever I see at the garden center that looks pretty.  We have a lot of shade, so our plant choices are predominantly shade-loving plants.

What is your best gardening tip or advice?

Diane: Just try it! Put the plant in the ground and see how it works.  If it doesn’t grow, it’s okay!

Bob: It is better to err by putting a sun-loving plant in the shade rather than putting a shade-loving plant in the sun.

Describe a gardening mistake you have made:

Diane: Putting a plant in an area of the garden that it will not grow well in.

Bob: Continuing to plant squash.  You barely get any fruit before the bugs eat it.

What Master Gardener activities have you participated in?

Diane: I joined in 2008.  I’ve helped coordinate a previous home garden tour and garden show.  I was President of the organization in 2015, and our home has been featured on the home garden tour.

Bob: I joined in 2013. I like doing physical work.  I have volunteered at the Monarch Watch garden in the past, and now I work at the Fairgrounds garden.  I help as needed in areas like setting up for the garden show, etc.

What is/was your occupation?

Diane: I worked in non-profit management and retired as the CEO of the Girl Scouts of Kaw Valley Council (northeast Kansas).

Bob: I retired from Westar as the Director of Regulatory Services.

If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, please see the “Apply” tab on the website header.

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