published Saturday, April 20th, 2013

Mastering your garden: Experts offer tips today and Sunday at expo

Hamilton County master gardeners will staff a booth at the Master Your Garden expo today and Sunday, answering questions about gardening. Carol Mathews, left, and Gayle Smith are shown in the master gardeners' booth at last year's Hamilton County Fair.
Photo by Hamilton County Master Gardeners
Hamilton County master gardeners will staff a booth at the Master Your Garden expo today and Sunday, answering questions about gardening. Carol Mathews, left, and Gayle Smith are shown in the master gardeners' booth at last year's Hamilton County Fair. Photo by Hamilton County Master Gardeners

Who are Master Gardeners?

Hamilton County Master Gardeners is an educational program that trains volunteers in gardening and horticulture. The training is shared with the public through voluntary community service.

Master Gardeners receive 40 hours of in-depth training by UT Extension specialists and local horticulture experts. Those who pass the training, meet attendance requirements and complete a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service are awarded the title of Certified Tennessee Master Gardener Volunteer. The certification, valid for one year, is maintained by meeting annual volunteer service hours and continuing education requirements.

Classes are held at the Hamilton County Agriculture Center, 6183 Adamson Circle off Bonny Oaks Drive in the Industrial Park. The registration fee for classes is $160, which includes course materials and first-year membership dues. The fee is $260 for couples who share materials. A limited number of scholarships are available.

For more information, contact Tom Stebbins at 855-6113.

Source: UT Extension Office

If You Go

* What: Master Your Garden Expo.

* When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Today and Sunday.

* Where: Camp Jordan Arena, 323 Camp Jordan Parkway, East Ridge.

* Admission: $5 ticket good both days, children age 10 and under free.

* Information: www.mghc.com.

EXPO LECTURES

TODAY

10 a.m. Rain Barrels

11 a.m. Lawn Care

Noon Butterflies in the Garden

1 p.m. Heirloom Plants

2 p.m. Tree Pruning/Care

3 p.m. Native Plants

4 p.m. Edible Landscapes

SUNDAY

10 a.m. Encouraging Wildlife in the Garden

11 a.m. Vegetable Gardening

Noon Bonsai

1 p.m. Bugs in the Garden

2 p.m. Perennials

3 p.m. Herbs

4 p.m. Rose Care

Source: Master Gardeners of Hamilton County

For avid gardeners, this weekend's Master Your Garden expo "will be like a candy store."

That's the take of Patsy Boles, vendor chairwoman for the expo, set today and Sunday at Camp Jordan. The lawn and garden show returns after several years away, brought by Master Gardeners of Hamilton County in a grassroots project they've been planning since September.

"This is a huge effort by the Master Gardeners to have a show of just garden ideas," says UT Extension Agent Tom Stebbins. "It hasn't been done for about five years."

The former show, The Down To Earth Lawn and Garden Show, was a popular fundraiser of the Downtown Sertoma Club from 2002 through 2008. Sue Henley, Master Your Garden chairwoman, was the Master Gardener liaison to those shows, in which the Master Gardeners always led question-and-answer seminars.

"Most good-sized cities in Tennessee have some kind of garden show, and we felt it was time to bring one back to our area," Henley says. "There will be displays, seminars and demos for the seasoned gardener as well as someone newly interested in gardening."

For this year's event, Boles has gathered 35 vendors who will lead how-to demonstrations, sell yard art and garden-themed gifts and display and discuss the latest in horticultural techniques.

In the Children's Corner, budding gardeners can make bird feeders, watering pitchers and plant seeds.

"We have the Catoosa Performance Learning Center in North Georgia coming, who make yard art in their welding class," says Boles. "We will have a beekeeping exhibit, miniature garden from Bryant's Garden Center in Cleveland, and I think gardeners will be interested in the display from Morton's Greenhouses in McMinnville."

Vendors are coming from four states, including Colonial Wagon and Wheel from Lancaster, Ohio, which will sell metal art for the garden, she says. Some vendors new to town, such as Home Flavors and Stockdales, are using the expo to introduce themselves to local gardeners.

Of special interest, Henley says, is the inclusion of the Notable Trees exhibit.

"This is a traveling exhibit presented by the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council. It is a pictorial history of trees across Tennessee that are 100 years or older," she says.

All proceeds from the expo will help fund scholarships for local residents interested in Master Gardener classes, but who might not be able to afford the tuition. Henley says money raised will also pay for required continuing education classes for Master Gardeners to keep them abreast of the latest gardening practices.

Contact staff writer Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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