Marilynn Beltz started gardening as a little girl alongside her mother and she hasn’t stopped since. Today, she shares decades of her gardening expertise with the Findlay community as an active volunteer.
Gardening is both a relaxing and a challenging avocation for Marilynn. She enjoys the simple pleasure of working in nature with the sun on her back and her hands in the dirt. Yet she also appreciates the challenge of trying to grow new plants and keeping her garden thriving in Northwest Ohio weather.
Tending a variety of plants
Marilynn’s three-quarter acre city plot resembles a cottage garden. In the height of summer, her beds and borders are packed with an assortment of annuals, perennials and vegetables that explode in a riot of colors and scents. “I dabble in everything,”Marilynn explains. “When I acquire a new plant, I walk around the garden and look for an open space to put it. Nothing is coordinated in my garden, I just do it!”
Indoors, Marilynn turned her porch into a four-season room so she could bring tender plants in from the garden during the winter months. She also tends to a cockatiel, a rescue Chihuahua mix and more than two dozen houseplants. “Whenever a plant needs a home, I’m willing to take it,” she said.
Devoting time to volunteer work
When she retired in 2003 after a 38-year career as a nurse at Blanchard Valley Hospital, Marilynn began devoting more time and energy to volunteer work. She became a Hancock County Master Gardener through the Ohio State University Extension and took on an active role in the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club.
Every year, Marilynn plays a key role in setting up and volunteering at the master gardener educational booth at the Hancock County Fair. She also helps children who are registering pumpkins and sunflowers in the county fair, and she oversees the judging of these categories.
At Findlay’s Community Garden, she fields questions from novice gardeners and helps to plant, weed and harvest the plot maintained by the Master Gardeners. Last year, the Master Gardener plot produced 6,300 pounds of produce that was donated to local food banks to help families in need. In the winter, Marilynn coordinates the highly popular wreath-making classes sponsored by the Master Gardeners. These classes, which take place at the Findlay-Hancock County Public Library and local churches, teach people how to make a holiday wreath using fresh greens.
Beautifying the community
Marilynn also helps to maintain the beautiful Triangle Garden located at the intersection of Tiffin Ave. and Fostoria Ave. Previously, the site was a dumping ground filled with rocks and trash that people threw out their car windows. Now, thanks to the Men’s and Women’s Garden Club, the roadway plot is filled with luscious flowering plants from spring through fall. Marilynn meets fellow garden club members at the Triangle Garden every Thursday morning to plant, weed and water. Afterwards, the volunteers socialize over coffee and doughnuts at the nearby Fort Findlay Coffee & Doughnut Shoppe. “I’m a people pleaser,” says Marilynn. “I always appreciate it when we are out working in the Triangle Garden and people drive by and shout out compliments.”
Marilynn typically spends 30 to 40 hours a week gardening. However, she encourages everyone—even those who only have a few minutes a day to spare—to grow something. “You get a lot of pleasure watching something grow and bloom,” she says. “Take time to enjoy those simple things. Stop and smell the roses.”
Q&A with Marilynn Beltz
What are your favorite plants? My favorite plant is lily-of-the valley. My favorite vegetables to grow are tomatoes and my favorite houseplants are orchids.
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t gardening? I enjoy sewing—embroidery and crochet, antiques and painting. I paint the pumpkins in the fall for Brinkman’s Country Corner and put together their gift and fruit baskets for the holidays.
After a hard day of gardening, what are your favorite local restaurants to grab a bite to eat? I don’t eat out very often, but when I do, I enjoy Olive Garden, Cedar Valley Café, Café Marie and Logan’s Irish Pub.