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Into the Garden: Conference draws international audience

By Sara Busse

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 2011 International Master Gardener convention is here in Charleston this week -- a coup for organizers who have worked for years to make this event happen. Congratulations to all involved, and welcome to the 1,000-plus participants from near and far.

"Sustainability and 'green' gardening are hot topics in the horticulture world," said Delores Barber, Master Gardener and conference chairwoman. "More than 1,000 participants from 43 states, two [Canadian] provinces and three countries are traveling to West Virginia to learn from the industry's experts."

The conference theme is "Color It Green in a Wild and Wonderful Way."

Barber and other West Virginia Master Gardeners were fortunate to secure Ball Horticultural Co. as a major conference sponsor. An added benefit -- Ball CEO Anna Caroline Ball will be one of the keynote speakers. She will talk about "Trends in Horticulture" on Wednesday.

Ball Horticultural is one of the nation's largest sellers of commercial seed for flowers and ornamental crops. The company also owns W. Atlee Burpee, a major seed seller to home gardeners.

Another keynote speaker, Joe Lamp'l, is sponsored by Fiskars. He will discuss "Growing a Greener World." He's hosted "Fresh from the Garden," on the DIY Network, and "GardenSMART" on PBS. He's a frequent guest expert on shows such as "Today," "Good Morning America" and "The Victory Garden."

The final keynote speaker, Rick Darke, will discuss "The Layered Landscape." Darke is a widely published author, publisher, lecturer and consultant focused on regional landscape design, planning, conservation and enhancement. His books include "The American Woodland Garden: Capturing the Spirit of the Deciduous Forest," "The Encyclopedia of Grasses for Livable Landscapes" and "The Wild Garden: Expanded Edition."

Day tours for participants include visits to Heritage Farm Museum and Village, Kanawha State Forest, Capitol Market, Left Fork Farm, Spring Hill Cemetery, the Capitol, Huntington Museum, Bob's Market and Greenhouses, Tamarack, Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, Blenko Glass and others. Dozens of experts will hold more than 30 breakout sessions on a far-ranging list of topics.

While the event is open only to registered participants, there's one part that anyone can enjoy: a trade show chock-full of items to purchase and to view.

The free trade show will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 13 in the Charleston Civic Center South Hall.

Show chairwoman Polly Reynolds said there will be more than 40 vendors and exhibits including West Virginia artisan crafts and other gardening items.

Exhibitors and vendors include:

Bob's Market and Greenhouse Inc. (www.bobsmarket.com); National Gardening Association/Gardening With Kids (www.kidsgardening.org); Etc. Designs (www.renatefavour.com); International Greenhouse Co./Greenhouse Megastore (www.greenhousemegastore.com); West Virginia University Extension Service (www.wvu.ext.edu); eXtension (www.extension.org/mastergardener); Penn State Pesticide Education Program (www.pested.ag.psu.edu); Of Nature (www.ofnature.com); DripWorks www.dripworks.com;

Bamboo Ecoline (www.myfirstecopot.com); Hidden Treasures Botanical Tours (www.hiddentreasuresbotanicaltours.com); High Mowing Organic Seeds (www.highmowingseeds.com); Spearhead Spade (www.spearheadspade.com); Peony's Envy Flower Farm (www.peonysenvy.com); Fiskars Brands Inc. (www.fiskars.com); Seamar Gloves (www.seamargloves.com); Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Co. (www.rareseeds.com); Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation (www.ag.tamu.edu);

Cobrahead LLC (www.cobrahead.com); West Virginia Department of Agriculture (www.wvagriculture.org); Hannah's Pottery (www.hannahspottery.com); Brooks Mountain Soap (www.brooksmountainsoap.com); L&M Crafts; Connie McColley Handmade Jewelry; Honeysuckle Hill Gardens (www.honeysucklehillgardens.net); Nature Impressions; Country Weaving; Windbeam Way Nursery; Daniel Vineyards (www.danielvineyards.com); Advanced Water Treatment Inc. (www.awtecowater.com); West Virginia Herb Association (www.wvherb.org); Griff's Loft; Nature's Creations (www.leafpin.com); Less Work Gardening (www.compostcomfort.com);

Foxgloves (www.foxglovesinc.com); St. Lynn's Press (www.stlynnspress.com); The Rose Gardener/Harlan Garden Labels (www.therosegardener.com); Stem Real Flower Jewelry (www.shopstem.com); Green Heron Tools (www.greenherontools.com); Summer Hollow Pottery (www.summerhollowpottery.com); Clyde's Garden Planner (www.clydesvegetableplantingchart.com);

Palmflex (www.palmflex.com); Timber Press/Storey Publishing (www.timberpress.com, www.storey.com); Longnecker Tools (www.longneckertools.com); The American Horticulture Society (www.ahs.org); Landreth Seed Co. (www.landrethseeds.com); Milorganite (www.milorganite.com); Southern Exposure Seed Exchange; Steel Blooming; and North Mississippi Research & Extension Center (www.ext.msstate.edu).

Other conference sponsors are the West Virginia Master Gardener Association and WVU Extension Service.

Reach Sara Busse at sara.busse@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.


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