Extension event offers wealth of garden tips

On Saturday, Nov. 3, the OSU Master Gardener Association will sponsor the "9th Annual Garden Symposium, Winter Dreams — Summer Gardens," at Stevenson Union on the Southern Oregon University campus in Ashland.

This all-day affair, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a bit different from typical gardening classes being taught elsewhere, where one usually selects a class, or maybe two, from the offerings being taught. At "Winter Dreams," you are encouraged to spend the entire day with instructors and fellow students involved in four sessions of classes.

Participants may take four classes of 90 minutes each, one from each session. There are 38 different topics from which to choose. I can assure you that each class is taught by a knowledgeable instructor who loves to share expertise with local gardeners seeking guidance and advice.

The classes cover a broad range of interests. I am especially intrigued by the scientific aspects of gardening, and in this regard highly anticipate a class taught by Jeff Anderson called "The World of Mychorrizae." If you are unfamiliar with the role that mychorrizae play in plant growth and soil health, this is a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of hearing an interesting person, from a pioneering company, speak on this valuable subject.

There are so many other useful and interesting classes that it would take too much space to list them all here. There are classes on basic botany, organic gardening methods, landscape design, specialty plants like lavender and daylilies and vermiculture. In fact, so many worthwhile subjects will be covered that it will be hard to choose just four. If you're interested in water conservation, there's a class for you. If you want to learn to select, plant and care for shade trees, you can learn that here. How about building water features, or walls and walkways? It's all in one place.

The cost is $50, which includes a delicious lunch, a chance to view numerous garden-related exhibits, and offers an opportunity to meet several authors who will have their books available. I availed myself of that opportunity last year and enjoyed a visit with an author of a new book on wildflowers. It's nice to be able to thank someone in person for his or her efforts and to let them know you appreciate their hard work.

My involvement with the program has been ongoing for several years now. I continue to teach an introduction to gardening in the Rogue Valley. In the class I try to identify the unique qualities of our area and how they will effect your gardening. Coming from a strong gardening background anywhere else in the country may not be enough to prepare you for the challenges you will face here. Our soils, our climate and all the other variables involved in our avocation are so different from the rest of the country that we all need a little guidance in coping with the different problems encountered here. I invite anyone who would like to learn more about local dos and don'ts to join me for a fast-paced, 90-minute overview of gardening in our valley.

Registration packets are available at most local nurseries, at the OSU Extension Center at 569 Hanley Road, Central Point, by calling the Extension Service at 776-7371, or by e-mail at jcmga.sorec@oregonstate.edu. Please register by Oct. 31 to ensure your choice of classes and in order to reserve your spot for lunch. There will be limited registration on the day of the symposium. The Jackson County Master Gardener Association is a volunteer nonprofit organization affiliated with the Oregon State University Home Horticulture Program in cooperation with the Jackson County Extension Service. Proceeds help promote community outreach and school horticulture programs with grants, scholarships and expertise.

Stan Mapolski, aka The Rogue Gardener, can be heard from 9-11 a.m. Sunday mornings on KMED 1440 AM and seen in periodic gardening segments for KTVL Channel 10 News. Reach him at stanmapolski@yahoo.com.

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