Henry Master Gardeners unveil ‘Summer’s End’ Seminar

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Gardening aficionados in the area will have a chance to further enhance their craft in the coming weeks, thanks to a new offering by the Henry County Master Gardeners.

The organization will host its first “Summer’s End Gardens Seminar” Sept. 9 from 9 a.m., to 3:30 p.m., at the University of Georgia Extension Office, 97 Lake Dow Road in McDonough. The cost to attend the seminar is $35 until Aug. 31, and $40 afterward.

L. to r.: Rick Barnes, Stephanie Fenton, Kathy Henderson and Mark Maher will be featured at the Summer’s End Gardens Seminar September 9. Special photos

The event is designed as a way to shine a light on gardening techniques and new developments in the horticulture arena, said Master Gardeners President Sue Kilgore.

“It’s part of our purpose to reach out to the community and educate them about gardening, and to provide an interesting day of bringing in speakers who they might not otherwise hear,” she said. “We will also have an assortment of vendors for the community to purchase things from. We’ll have everything from plants to goat’s milk lotion, shiitake mushrooms, garden art, door prizes, coffee and pastries and lunch.”

The seminar will feature presentations by gardening authorities Kathy Henderson, Rick Barnes, Mark Maher, and Stephanie Fenton.

Henderson has worked in the gardening business since she was 20 years old. She currently operates a small farm and greenhouse in Locust Grove, and contributes a gardening column for The Henry County Times.

For her presentation at the seminar, Henderson plans to focus on winter gardening.

“Winter in the South is one of the best times to garden,” she said. “We don’t get a lot of cold weather, and we don’t get a lot of insects like we do in the summer. The sun is not so high, so we don’t get a lot of heat damage. Most of our plants are damaged by heat more than they are by cold.”

Henderson noted that winter gardening is more prevalent in this part of the country than it is up north.

“Gardening doesn’t stop in the South,” said Henderson. “Twelve months of the year, we are planting something. There is something to do every month. We work as hard in the winter as we do in the summer.”

Rick Barnes has been an active horticulturist in Atlanta for more than 35 years and is a business developer at Downey Trees, Inc. At the seminar, he will share his insight regarding gardening with native plants, with an emphasis on plant communities.

“I focus on assessing your home landscape in terms of the natural plant communities in Georgia,” he said. “Most people want to put the right plant in the right place. This is just a different way of looking at that.”

Barnes said for his presentation, he will hone in on the Native Plant Garden at Georgia State University.

“I’ll be using that as a model because it has a lot of the native plant communities in it,” he said.

Certified Plant Professional Mark Maher is a Georgia representative for Alabama-based Flowerwood Nursery. He has worked in the horticulture industry for more than 30 years, and will talk about gardening from the perspective of a well-known national publication.

“I’m going to be talking about the Southern Living plant collection – just extending the color and the landscape, new plant introductions and new plant pairings, different plants that would go well together in the landscape and complement each other,” said Maher. “In addition to the Southern Living plant collection, I’ll be talking about Encore Azaleas – evergreen azaleas that bloom spring, summer and fall. We’ve got a new variety that’s going to be introduced in the azaleas called Bonfire Encore Azaleas. It blooms red and grows to three feet tall. Encore Azaleas not only bloom three times a year, they prefer more sun than traditional azaleas.”

Maher emphasized that plant professionals are always coming out with new plants and plant varieties.

“They just breed different plants together and they get new varieties with different breeding methods,” said Maher. “It happens a lot. There’s constant change in the industry – new and different colors, longer flowering and different-colored foliage.”

Master Gardener Stephanie Fenton lives on a 14-acre farm in Henry County, and is a columnist for Georgia Gardening Magazine. She will appear at the seminar to expound on the subject, “So you think you want to be a farmer.”

Fenton said she is looking forward to the event. Adding an element of mystery to the occasion, she said she is keeping the exact details of her appearance under wraps for now.

“Hopefully everyone will enjoy this humorous presentation, which remains a secret until the seminar,” said Fenton.

Vendors are invited to participate in the seminar for $10 each. Space is limited, and registration is required. Registration forms are available online at http:// ugaextension.org/content /dam/extension-county-offices/henry-county/anr/ Symposium%20Flyer.pdf.

For more information, call the Extension Office at 770-288-8421.