About 7,000 garden enthusiasts will visit the 39th annual Master Gardener Spring Fair this weekend.
“They’ll be looking for anything garden-related,” says Master Gardener Linda Holder. “Our number-one draw is plants. Plants of every description. There will be vegetables and flowers ... ornamentals, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, bonsai ... literally every plant you can think of.”
All of the plants at the fair will be compatible with Southern Oregon’s garden regions.
“We don’t have terribly cold winters here, but we do get below freezing,” Holder says. “So plants for this region have to withstand cold, and even more importantly, they have to withstand the heat of the summer ... because we’ll hit 100 degrees.”
One drought-resistant flowering plant is lavender, others include ornamental grasses.
“Any of the plants that come from the Mediterranean are generally heat and drought tolerant,” Holder says. “These plants are always a big draw at the fair, along with the tons of vegetable starts for those wanting to grow their own vegetable gardens.”
The vegetables selected to grow well in the Rogue Valley include the mainstays of gardens: tomatoes, peppers, squash, cantaloupe and others, including strawberries and cane fruits such as raspberries and blackberries.
“There will be a lot of herbs as well,” Holder says. “For those who like to garden and cook, herbs are important in the kitchen. A number of vendors will offer selections of culinary and landscape herbs, like lavender. It’s not used so much for cooking, but it’s a beautiful landscape plant.”
More than 100 growers, vendors and garden experts will be at the garden fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 5, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 6, at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. Admission is $3; kids 12 and younger get in free. Parking is free. Proceeds support Jackson County Master Gardener Association educational programs. Call 541-776-7371 or see jacksoncountymga.org.
Along with plants, vendors at the fair will offer all types of items used for gardening: tools, books and soil amendments and items geared toward outdoor living, such as pavers for walks and patios, outdoor furniture and garden art.
The fair gets new vendors every year. New to this fair is outdoor furniture made from wood branches and pallets, bells made from discarded fire extinguishers, chainsaw art, lawn sprinklers handmade from copper, hand-thrown glazed pots and vases, a mosaic artist and a landscape designer, to name a few.
“Things that can be incorporated within a garden to make an outdoor setting,” Holder says.
Holder, who recently moved from the country to town, finds her gardening space limited this year.
“I probably won’t have a vegetable garden, but I’m into ornamentals, particularly perennials, and I will have a lot of flowering perennials that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and all kinds of pollinators.
“We’ve just renovated the backyard, and we put in honeysuckle for the hummingbirds, all of the salvias, and a plant called penstemon, or the beardtongues. It’s a favorite for hummingbirds. Native milkweed is, of course, the plant that monarch caterpillars feed on. I also put in a water source that butterflies can drink from. They need a perch to stand on and water that is not moving.”
The Master Gardener charter states that the organization exists to educate, and there will be three displays of educational material at the fair. Two of the displays will have information about pollinators. A third will be about plant families.
“We’ll have lists of plants for those interested in creating hummingbird and butterfly gardens,” Holder says. “Most of the plants that attract pollinators are actually very pretty. It takes the bright reds to attract hummingbirds, and they like to drink from tubular flowers, like honeysuckle. And bees love lavender, among many other plants.”
Activities for kids are on the slate for the fair.
“The people who run the children’s garden here at OSU Extension will have activities such as making sun visors and potting marigolds,” Holder says.
Others will offer face-painting, coloring books and a coloring station for kids.
Master Gardeners will raffle a “chicken tractor,” or mobile chicken coop, at the fair, for $1 per ticket. A cart full of plants and gardening supples will be raffled by 4-H. Tickets are free, but donations to 4-H will be accepted.
Free how-to classes will be taught by Jackson County Master Gardener Association experts; plant clinic volunteers can diagnose problems and answer gardening questions; and attendees can get a well-water sample tested for free.