Neil Bell
Senior Instructor II, Community Horticulturalist

I oversee the Master Gardener program in Marion County and Polk County and work with my volunteers to assist homeowners with their garden problems. 

Marion County
Polk County
Department of Horticulture
OSU Extension Service, Marion and Polk County
1320 Capitol Street NE, Suite 110
Salem, OR 97301
United States
(503) 373-3765

Research

My research interests involve evaluating evergreen shrubs for un-irrigated landscape applications in western Oregon. Since 2001, I have done evaluations of Ceanothus, Cistus and Halimium at the Oregon Garden in Silverton and at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center in Aurora. Currently, I am evaluating Grevillea and Arctostaphylos for hardiness, growth and flowering at NWREC. We have used the results from these evaluations to design low-input landscapes for the region that emphasize year-round ornamental appeal.

Teaching

Together with Dr. Jay Pscheidt, I developed and deliver an online course on plant problem diagnosis which was offered for the first time through E-campus in spring term 2012. The course is HORT 349, Diagnosis of plant problems-an introduction.

Biography

I was raised in Victoria B.C. and earned my B.S. degree from the University of British Columbia in Plant Science in 1990. I came to OSU to study Horticulture and received an M.S. in 1992. The research area for my Masters degree was berry crops, and the thesis looked at yield components of 'Marion' trailing blackberry.

Publications

Bell, N. and J. Altland. 2010. Growth, flowering and cold hardiness of Rockrose in western Oregon. HortTechnology 20(3):652-659.

Bell, N. 2009. Evaluation of Growth, Flowering and Cold Hardiness of ceanothus in Western Oregon. HortTechnology 19(2):411-417.

Bell, N, D. Sullivan and T. Cook. 2009. EC 1629-E. Mulching woody ornamentals with organic materials.

Bell, N. 2007. The other rockroses: Halimium and XHalimiocistus. Pacific Horticulture. April-June. 68(2):16-20.

Outreach and Extension

I oversee Master Gardener programs in Marion County and Polk County. The MG chapter in Marion County has approximately 225 members and the Polk County Chapter has approximately 160 members. The main role of the MG's in each county is assisting home gardeners with their garden problems, and the volunteers collectively field about 4,000 enquiries from homeowners annually. They also sponsor an array of other programs within each county, including clinics at community events, presentations to community groups and on local radio, seminars and workshops for the public, educational presentations to elementary schools, assisting community gardeners as technical advisors. Acvtivities of both Marion County and Polk County Master Gardeners are self-funded by means of an annual plant sale.

I also personally assist homeowners with their garden problem, typically about 300 enquiries per year. I have authored OSU Extension publications on water-efficient landscape plants, soil amendment and mulch use. I also revise the home garden sections of the PNW Insect Management Handbook yearly and write a weekly column entitled the "Master Gardener Question of the Week" for the Salem Statesman-Journal. I make presentations to local gardening groups throughout the year. As an extension of my research activities, I am available to help community groups with design and install of drought-tolerant landscapes anywhere in the Willamette Valley.