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Bobbie Jinright #045; a pass-along gardner

Bobbie Jinright is a master gardener. It's a title she wears with humble pride.

"I was raised on a farm and I love to see things change and grow," Jinright said. "Like farming, gardening gets in your blood."

Jinright's dad farmed cotton, peanuts, corn and soybeans and also ran a truck farm. She and her siblings worked in the produce fields right along with the hired hands. Watching plants grow and bear fruit fascinated her and so did her grandmother's flower gardens.

"My grandmother was a pass-along gardener," Jinright said. "She grew the old-timey kinds of plants and passed them along for others to root and enjoy. Back then, people didn't have a lot of money to buy plants, so they would pass along clippings - gardenias, geraniums, ferns, hydrangeas - plants that rooted easily.

"When you grow up with something, you can't help loving it and I love gardening."

When Jinright married and had her "own little place," she wanted to make it look as nice and possible. She had the desire and knowledge to do so and both came from her background on the farm.

Now, 34 years later, she is certified as a master gardener and, therefore, a qualified pass-along gardener.

"I've always enjoyed passing along plants to others that wanted clippings," she said. "I shared with others what I had learned through reading and watching television. One of the requirements of the Alabama Master Gardener program is that each participant donates 40 hours to "passing on" what they have learned.

Jinright is often asked to advise friends and neighbors on "how to" have a prettier yard year around. She gladly shares what she has learned. "By hard work."

Pretty lawns and gardens don't just happen. They take a lot of planning and even more hard work - year around.

Jinright said the best advice that she can give is to develop a good "bone" structure for the garden.

Bone structure for a garden? Not something that most people think about but it is extremely important for a pretty yard year around, Jinright said.

"The bones of a garden are the shrubs and small trees of different colors and textures that will keep your yard looking good all year long. You can add color with seasonal plants or annuals. You should work to have good bones before you add decorative plants."

Jinright said it is also good planning to establish one area at a time.

"If you try to do the entire yard at one time it can be overwhelming, especially if you have a large yard," she said, adding that her yard has been a 34-year labor of love. "Sometimes I think that I have too much because a pretty garden takes a lot of care. But, it's good exercise. That's the positive side to all the hard work it takes."

Jinright has introduced perennials to her gardens that bring color and variety to her yard year after year. But, she has found an easier way to benefit from the color that annuals add.

"The soil here is so dry that it's hard to keep enough water on many of the annuals," she said. "I've found that I can pot the plants and add color to the gardens by grouping them. People that have small yards can have an entire garden in one large pot."

Jinright has designed the gardens around her home on Union Hill Road, but she has had some help.

"Jerry will dig a hole for me," she said, laughing. "And, he says that I've moved every plant in the yard three times. That may not be completely true, but I have to find a place where my plants can be happy."

Jinright said her "master gardener" status hasn't really put any additional pressure on her to do more to her gardens.

"But the class did help me to be a better gardener," she said. "This was the first Alabama Master Gardener class offered through the county extension office and it was outstanding. We had people who were novices and we had advanced gardeners and every thing in between and we all learned. If you want to be a good gardener and have pretty gardens, you have to learn and keep learning."

Jinright is one of many who will take advantage of the Fall Lawn and Garden Expo from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Sept. 13, at the Cattleman Complex.

The expo will be co-sponsored by the Pike County Extension System, Auburn University, The Messenger and WTBF.

Gardening information sessions will be presented by local horticulturists and instructors from Auburn University.