2 June 2010
In The Garden With the Fluvanna Master Gardeners
By Irene C. Burke - Fluvanna Master Gardener
Fluvanna County Extension Office: 434.591.1950
Pastimes and passions like gardening have their formalized national and international associations. Along with websites and periodic gatherings, there are annual conferences, and educational tours. After attending a few and listening to the experiences of those who have, I have some observations that make help you enjoy them more.
Many in the northern hemisphere are scheduled for early spring to anticipate our seasonal planting frenzy.
Housed in cool cavernous settings, theyre peopled by commercial exhibitors: growers, landscape designers, nursery or garden suppliers. Their intent is to introduce you to their products and services hoping youll become a permanent customer. They stage promotional sessions, hand out free samples (a baggie of dry worm compost), catalogs, calendars and the like.
Often nonprofits like garden clubs or defined interest groups (iris, bonsai, native plant, rose or horticultural societies, for example) use convention space to inform, fundraise and recruit new members.
In the U.S., the EPA, USDA, state cooperative extension service, forestry or natural resources agencies may be there to promote horticultural best practices with educational literature and presentations.
These garden fairs come with competitions for the best displays, which are generally the result of ratings by attendees, frequently by independent judges from one of the non-profits.
From the massive to the minor garden expos have their followers. In late May, the open-air, Chelsea Flower Show in London with 157,000 visitors is the ultimate. The early March, Philadelphia Flower Show is the equivalent, attracting more than 250,000.
Garden tours are exactly as the title indicates: local or international excursions through private or public gardens, botanical parks and arboretums, flower plantations, tropical tangles or arctic-alpine terrain for one day, one month, or whatever your budget allows or the tour defines; from self guided to groups led by prominent horticulturalists, garden writers or naturalists.
In the U.S. youll find weeklong garden tours from late April through June. Some span the entire season with weekly opportunities to visit a regional cluster of homes and gardens.
Whats the reason for garden hopping or show stopping? Having a purpose narrows focus and delivers more benefits than if the choice were random idle entertainment.
How much will this cost? Food lodging and travel
Will the location and expected displays offer insight into current practices or are you going to expand knowledge base about another part of the world another climate, topography
How do you get the most from your experience? Are there guides that address the topic and offer advice on how to get the most from your experience from those whove been there much like a Fodors or Rick Staves travel guide.
Back in your garden: What will you change or celebrate?
Bring small note pad and pen, sturdy shoes, over the shoulder handbag
Bring small note pad and pen, sturdy shoes, layered clothing, over the shoulder handbag, wide brimmed hat.
Tip of the Week
Tuck pant-legs into your socks or garden boots to discourage ticks from beginning their ascent to more luscious body parts. Gather shirts into pants waist, and sleeves into gloves. Bare arms detect their scramble to more secluded areas, so brush or blow them off. Do a tick-check in your clothing, hat included, and on your body before you come in for the day.