Master gardeners ‘buzzing’ about upcoming symposium in Holyoke

Mar 2 2019
Published by under Events, Gardening, Holyoke

It will take place March 30 from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 for sign in) at Holyoke High School.

Plans are humming along as The Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association Inc. gets ready for its Lower Valley Symposium with the theme, “Bees, Butterflies and Bounty: What’s the latest BUZZ in Gardening.”

It will take place March 30 from 8 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. (doors open at 7:30 for sign in) at Holyoke High School.

There will be 18 classes, six in each of three sessions.

George C. Kingston, of East Longmeadow, will present on gardening for the birds, butterflies and other pollinators. “Get a jump on spring. Put yourself in a garden state of mind,” he said to encourage people to attend the symposium.

Workshop topics also will include, native plants and meadow gardens with a special program on gardening for the birds, butterflies and other pollinators.

There will be a class on landscaping with northeast native plants including shrubs. “Our pollinators have evolved with our native plants and make good use of them,” commented Toi T. Graham, Lower Valley Symposium co-coordinator.

New this year will be a two-part program on creating a meadow garden, which, Graham said provide the cover and pollen needed by the many varied pollinators native to this area.

There will be a beginner class on vegetable gardening and one on “Ecological Edible

Landscaping: How to Integrate Edible Plants into Your Flower and Foundation Beds.”

There will be classes about new annuals and new perennials. “So much has been happening in plant breeding that a trip to a local nursery can result in confusion over plants one cannot identify,” Graham said.

For those fighting Japanese knotweed, bittersweet and what she called “their ilk,” the symposium will have a class on invasive plants and controlling pests naturally.

“Because so many of our trees are under siege right now, especially from emerald ash borer sand gypsy moths,” she noted that there will be workshops on trees and their care and pruning trees and shrubs. “The healthier the trees, the better they can withstand pests,” Graham said.

Other topics include hypertufa, creating trellis and fencing with twigs and limbs, water features, growing roses, growing succulents and creating container gardens.

The purpose of the symposium is to educate the public in good gardening practices.

“Basically we want to share with the public our collective many years of gardening experience and that of our speakers,” Graham said. “If we can prevent the attendees making some of the mistakes we have made in the past and make their gardening more successful, we will have achieved our goal. Gardening must be successful in order to be fun.”

Kingston said the three top concerns of gardeners as they look out the window in March are: Are the snowdrops up yet? What will I do differently this year? When can I get out there and start digging?

“It isn’t about how big your garden is, it’s about how much of yourself you put into it,” he added.

The cost for the symposium is $35. Registration materials will be available online at WMMGA.org; print the registration and mail it back with your check or register online.

A boxed lunch will be available for $6.50, or participants can bring their own lunch.

There are also symposia in South Deerfield and the Berkshires with different topics and on different dates; check the website for more information.

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