Gotta Garden

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Garden Education: Ask A Master Gardener Symposium

Last Thursday was the seventeenth annual SCMMGA (South Carolina Midlands Master Gardener Association...I think) Spring Gardening Symposium. This is the second one that I have attended...and they both were just terrific.

The folks that put these on work incredibly hard. From the excellent food (included in the price) to more door prizes than you can imagine, I'm just in awe of their efforts. This year, there was also a silent auction with wonderful items all around the edges of the room.

The plant sale this year was also awesome. I'll tell you more about that as I go on. There was also a vendor area where you could purchase garden items and even a bookseller with books not just by the speakers but of related topics and regional guides. For a relatively small selection, it was excellent. Naturally, I found a book to purchase!

Upon arrival, we checked in, got our name tags and were given a cd from the Clemson Extension Office that I think has some episodes of a local gardening show called "Down Home with Tony & Amanda" (I haven't watched mine yet), The day began with everyone finding a seat at a table with very comfortable chairs. We arrived a little early, but not much, so our seating was in the rear of the room. At each place was a packet of materials. The packet had catalogues, a Carolina Gardener magazine, samples (including Osmocote), seeds, an exercise booklet with exercises for gardeners, coupons (including a 25% off one item one for Woodley's....more about that later, too), just tons of good information. Mine also had a card that entitled me to a free bag of potting mix. My sister got one for a thornless blackberry. While munching on delicious muffins (I had blueberry and one that was a combo with half chocolate and half banana nut) and orange juice, we listened to the opening remarks.

The first speaker was Flo Chaffin of Specialty Ornamentals speaking on hydrangeas. Her talk was entitled "What's Old Will Be New Again". By this, she meant remontant or reblooming hydrangeas. It turns out that those new ones on the market that we're all seeing (the ones that bloom on new and old wood vs. just old wood as we're used to) are not really new at all. They're actually old varieties that have been rediscovered. They've been around for maybe as long as 100 years. She suspects some are the same, just under different names. I had no idea...I simply thought they were some kind of new breeding breakthrough...but not at all. Seven on the market now were mentioned but all are most likely renamed...the original names were probably lost.

Ms. Chaffin went through all the categories of hydrangeas giving us her recommendations in each. She must have been quite persuasive as I came home with two, Fuji Waterfall and Purple Tiers. Before her presentation, I would have sworn I didn't need any more hydrangeas!

We then were given a little break. I spent mine out at the plant sales. I found some African Blue Basil and a couple other fun things (a variegated Catchfly and a Heucherella).

Coming back in, we picked two out of three mini classes to attend taught by master gardeners. I went to one on making English Planting Troughs (Hypertufa). It sounded easy enough that I may just try it! I've kinda had a hankering to maybe try some alpines...who knows.

The other one I attended was on "What Can I Do With Dried Flowers and Herbs?" Turns out, you can make potpourri! The speaker was entertaining and made it sound fun and easy. She called it "yard trash", the bits and pieces that you use. We even got to scoop some potpourri to take home.

The class I didn't attend was on Succulent Wreaths. I was given some good advice by a friend of my sister's who convinced me that the wreaths might be more trouble than I thought! At any rate, I enjoyed the two I did go to.

We then all came back to hear the next speaker who was Rita Randolph of Randolph's Greenhouses. Her topic was Contain Yourself: Flowers, Fantastic Foliage and Ornamental Edibles. We saw some incredible groupings, very creative and heard about some of the new plants that can go in them. I liked her terminology for the Rule of Three (my understanding is something for height, something to trail over the edges and then something for pops of color) which were the thriller, the friller and the spiller. She, too, must have done her job as you'll see when I show you some things I found at Woodley's.

Lunch came next and it was yummy! We had a number of choices but (for me) the hands down winner was the grilled veggies wrap. It was delicious!

The last speaker was Dabney Peeples of J. Dabney Peeples Design Associates. His work has been featured in Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens as well as in books and South Carolina publications. His topic was Making Your Garden Uniquely Yours. I hate to admit this, but I had a hard time hearing him (we were sitting in the very back). His slides seemed to have lots of interesting hardscaping in them and he has certainly created some unique gardens and garden settings.

One really nice thing that happened was that the gal seated next to me won one of the door prizes. It was a pair of bright pink gardening shoes. Unfortunately, they were too big for her...and she offered them to me! I had to chuckle when I saw them as I immediately thought of Yolanda Elizabet!

It was such a nice day, it was a shame it had to end. However, after another prowl through the plant sales, it really was time to head home. This group does a most excellent symposium!


Yolanda Elizabet said...

Gotta, you did take them didn't you? I mean, how can anyone resist a pair of pink gardening shoes???? ;-)

An african blue basil? I'm intrigued, what does that look like?

Glad you enjoyed the symposium!

Carol said...

Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a day. But how come you didn't think of me when you go the pink clogs? After all Yolanda has a pair already!! LOL

Gotta Garden said...

Hi YE: Well, of course I did! I'll try to get a picture of the basil up tomorrow night. It was great!

Hey Carol: Gee, I should have, shouldn't I? But, it's just that she's so into pink...It's like Barbie pink or Pepto Bismal, don't you think? Lol! I'm thinking my daughter will claim them when she's home next. I went out in them to check the mail today and they're actually pretty comfortable...but that color...oh my.

Thanks for stopping by you two!

LostRoses said...

Okay, you win the prize for the cutest garden shoes! I've never seen that cutout style. Lucky you!

Gotta Garden said...

Thanks, lostroses! It was lucky!

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