Master Gardener Shelley Ryan was the producer/host of WPT's The Wisconsin Gardener for the entire run of the series. The series, which premiered in 1992 and taped its last season in 2013, aired statewide, providing gardeners and homeowners with tips and practical information on gardening and landscape-related topics specific to Wisconsin. Viewers can still find the program broadcast on the Wisconsin Channel.
"Gardening is America's number one hobby, but gardening isn't the same everywhere, and sometimes it's hard to find the answers you need when you have problems in your own garden."
Ryan, who earned the status "Master Gardener" from the Dane County Horticulture Extension Office, became interested in plants during high school. "I had two great teachers who really inspired my interest," she said. "I remember going on a field trip to the University of Wisconsin Arboretum and being really impressed that our guide could identify all of the plants. I was hooked from then on."
Her first garden consisted of only a few vegetables planted in a gravel ditch near a rented apartment. She and her husband Dennie designed their gardens of heirloom and native species surrounding their Victorian home in Blue Mounds.
Since the birth of their son Kably in 1996, gardening became a real family affair with mother and son sharing time together in the vegetable garden. With his sandbox inside the fenced-in vegetable garden, Kably grew up snacking on home-grown produce such as peas, beans, zucchini, tomatoes and raspberries.
Ryan always considered herself a true gardening enthusiast, and could talk about gardening all day and every day. That's why hosting and producing The Wisconsin Gardener was the perfect job for her.
Shelley Ryan passed away in 2014 after an extended battle with breast cancer. Her legacy lives on in the gardens, and gardeners, she helped to inspire.
"I have found horticulturists, scientists and master gardeners to be some of the nicest and most enjoyable people to work with. They all love to share their gardening experiences, and I get the opportunity to learn while talking with my guests."