Master Gardener Spotlight: Phoebe Frankeberger

Oct 9, 2021

Master Gardener Spotlight: Phoebe Frankeberger

This month we are spotlighting UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Phoebe Frankeberger. She has been with the program for since 2018 and has been a wonderful part of our newsletter team. Her forte is putting all the elements together so the newsletter is reader-friendly and attractive. I have had a behind the scenes tour of what it takes to get our newsletter together and it's a lot of work!! Phoebe's ability to take a bunch of links and pages and bring them to life puts a smile on my face every month! We reach out to the public in many ways from our online presentations to our social media to our in person events, but our newsletter has become one the best ways to reach out to you, our community, in such a large county! We hope each month you are able to find interesting blogs and links and are able to find classes that help you grow as gardeners. If you have attended a class because you saw it on our newsletter, or learned something new from one of our blogs, or are reading this now then we have Phoebe to thank for it!! She is a wonderful, kind and insightful person, and she is able to bring these qualities to our newsletter each month! Enjoy our interview with Phoebe

- Maggie O'Neill, Master Gardener Program Coordinator

Tell us a little about yourself.



I am a wife and mom of two adult daughters. I volunteered with a number of organizations prior to Covid quarantines, but due to some unrelated health issues, my volunteering has been limited to the MG newsletter since that time. I am also a CPA who is now semi-retired but still work for a few chosen clients. My husband is also a Master Gardener and a CPA. One of my designations as a partner of our accounting firm was Creative Director. I had designed and set up our website and any advertising we did. So, when I learned that the Master Gardeners needed help creating a new newsletter, I was happy to sign up, since I've always enjoyed that creative process.


Why did you decide to be a MG?

As empty nesters we were always looking for activities and ran across an ad in the Chino Hills Champion newspaper in 2018 for the Master Gardener class. Being known as avid landscape gardeners around our neighborhood, we signed up for the class. It was so enlightening. We learned about sustainable landscaping, healthy communities, lawn types and water usage, edible gardening, germination, propagation, composting, invasive plants, effects of climate change on our trees and communities, and so much more. I had a small container edible garden the last couple of years and my herbs are convenient to have any time I need them. We have a couple of butterfly plants now and get excited every time our backyard is filled with butterflies. We are more aware of our water usage and more aware of plant types and needs. I am able to diagnose problems much more easily – or at least know where to look to find the answers. I've been able to propagate more plants and have loved growing plants from seed versus store bought ones in pre-planted pots. I've also become more aware of my environment and what it means to be able to compost and recycle. We've changed our life in many ways (and not just because our daughters have pushed us) but because we've become more knowledgeable about the consequences and the ease of doing things a bit differently.


What are your gardening passions?

I love all flowers that make your home look and feel well loved and taken care of. Landscaping with lots of color is my passion. Not really planned out color, like you'd find around a hotel – just patches here and there, like you'd find in nature. I love bunches of plants overlapping each other.


What is a tidbit or two you've learned as a MG that the public reading our newsletter could gain from?

I love every part of our newsletter. Each part is significant to any gardener and our San Bernardino community. The calendar section pivoted to online classes due to COVID-19, but is in the process of changing back again to more in person events. I am so pleased with the “MG Spotlight” feature because it highlights so many different interests of so many different people that have a love for gardening and are drawn to teaching others their knowledge. “Janet's Jottings” and “Coordinator's Corner” are a bit of science and a bit of fun. They are always great reads and their content is easily applied. Our “What's Bugging Your Garden” highlights the University of California's Integrated Pest Management program and all that's available to help you via its website. Our guest writers have been awesome highlighting many different issues from invasive plants, sustainable roses or other UCCE programs such as the Master Food Preserver program or the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education (EFNEP) program. I also love the UCCE Master Gardener Helpline, which is accessible by email or phone to the public to pose any gardening related question or issue they wish. We highlight this great public service every month because we know its benefits.


What attracted you to serving as the chair of the MG newsletter committee?

I love that creative process, which is way outside accounting and taxes. It allows me to play.

By pool


What advice would you give someone considering becoming a UCCE MG?

Do it for yourself – that knowledge base is so important if you have any interest in gardening and want University of California science and research based information. Most of us are limited in our knowledge, we keep doing the same thing over and over each year, even though it's not working as well as we want. The Master Gardener program will open up new territory for you, whether it's soil management or pest management or anything in between. Besides preparing you with a breadth of knowledge to share with the public, it with provide you with personal knowledge and insight to be able to improve your own gardening and landscaping needs and desires.


Anything else you'd like to add?


The newsletter is only a year and a half old. It is still growing and changing, which I hope never stops. We have new Master Gardener volunteers all the time which keep things fun and fresh. I would encourage you, as a member of the public, to consider applying to the Master Gardener program. Who knows? If you have an interest in writing or designing, you may be our newest new team member! And, you Master Gardeners also reading this, contact Maggie if you'd like to join our team!

By Margaret J O'Neill
Author - Master Gardener Coordinator and Environmental Educator

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