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Master Gardeners host first Iredell Garden Fair

By Sandra Phillips

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    If your group would like a speaker for a group interested in horticulture, call the Iredell County Extension Service at 704-873-0507 to schedule .



The Iredell Master Gardener Volunteer Association and a new class of 17 interns are spring cleaning.

They work in their demonstration garden on Thursday mornings. It’s located behind the Iredell County Extension Service Center at 444 Bristol Drive, Statesville.

Members have raked and deposited leaves into compost bins, pulled and sprayed weeds and mulched. Freed from winter’s debris, water cascades into the pond and new foliage emerges around perennials.

In conjunction with the Extension Service, the master gardeners are preparing for the first Iredell Garden Fair. It will be held 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. April 20 at the center.

During the free event, volunteers in the teaching garden will answer questions about the ornamental plants and vegetables. Visitors can browse among raised beds, herbs, fruit trees and experimental test sites.

Lee Hollifield, event chairman, encourages people to bring samples of plants, weeds and bugs to the “Ask a Master Gardener” booth. Volunteers will identify them and suggest solutions for baffling problems.

There’s something for everyone from the novice to the veteran. Exhibits range from vertical growing systems for people who lack outdoor space to worm composting for those interested in breaking down kitchen refuse.

Margaret Willett, president, said vendors will have all kinds of garden-related products. In addition to items like potting benches and lawn equipment, ornamental shrubs, trees and plants will be for sale.

Hollifield and Willett have combined their skills to organize the fair. Hollifield refers to Willett as “the detail person.”

“He knows the people in the community,” she said.

They have assembled four speakers familiar with gardening in the Piedmont.

Jan Enright from Enright’s Creations will discuss “Achieving Curb Appeal” at 10:30 a.m.

In 2010, Enright drew a landscape plan and suggested plants to unify areas of the demonstration garden. The theme “Celebrate Circles of Life” incorporates circular walkways, planting beds and half circles.

“Enright cares about this garden,” said master gardener Martha Hazelton who worked on the project with her.

Healthy plants require good soil. Hollifield and Willett visited Daddy Pete Farms, a North Carolina Century farm in Stony Point, to learn about composting methods.

Sales manager Melvin York will speak at 12:30 p.m. His expertise is “Raised Beds and Square Foot Gardening.”

Following York, Terrell Sharpe from Statesville will share tips for lawn care. Like ornamental plants and vegetables, lawns require regular maintenance.

Visitors who view Ellie’s Rose Garden will want to learn more about roses at 2:30 p.m. David Pike from Witherspoon Rose Culture in Durham will discuss “Five Simple Things That Every Rose Needs.”

The Garden Fair is a new venture for the master gardeners. It’s another opportunity to interact with the community and expand the public’s knowledge of gardening. In addition to maintaining the demonstration garden, the group coordinates special projects and provides speakers for organizations interested in horticulture.

Training programs for volunteers are offered each year. Master gardeners also increase their knowledge through continuing learning opportunities and hands-on work.

“Members have fun,” said Hollifield, a master gardener for five years. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have a good time.”

Willett, a master gardener for six years, agreed. “The friendship is worth it all,” she said. “I have learned so much since I’ve been a master gardener.”

Visitors can benefit from this collective knowledge April 20.

Sandra Phillips is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Sandra? Email her at maggieretrieve@windstream.net.
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