Gardening for Success 2018 - a resounding success


April 26, 2018

Courtesy Mike Heath

Garden Hat contestants strutting their "stuff"

The Gardening for Success 2018 regional conference closed Sunday after finishing an information packed weekend with a lot of fun mixed in. The conference kicked off Saturday morning with Scott Skogerboe's presentation on edible landscapes. His presentation was the beginning of a morning of seminars on trees, plant diseases, soil composition, herbs and flowering plants. Whew! With so much to take in, how do you do it all? Well, the answer is that you don't. Attendees had to pick and choose what was more appealing to them or what they needed most. I was one of the fortunate few that came with someone else so we could split the seminars then exchange notes later. My son, Chris, came with me and we attended different seminars. He really got excited about the class on the medical uses of herbs and couldn't wait for the follow-up class on making herbal teas.

The afternoon was spent with more in-depth seminars on many of the topics from the morning with a few different topics thrown in just for more colorful interest. Chris attended a seminar by Chris Hilgert from the University of Wyoming on strawberries. Mr. Hilgert is the strawberry "guru" in Wyoming. When he came out of the seminar, Chris' eyes were alive with excitement with what he'd learned. Now he knows more than just the fact that they taste good. He's now telling me what I need to do with our strawberry patch. Maybe I'll let him take that on as a project.

After supper contestants from around the state competed in the annual "Garden Hat Contest". That was a blast. No, they weren't hats that are actually worn in the garden. They were all made up and just for fun. There was a hat shaped like a frog, a "Minnie Pearl" hat and many others. The we had a special speaker, David Salman, from Santa Fe, New Mexico who gave a tremendous presentation on salvia. And, no, I didn't know what salvia was. It's sage. I had no idea there are so many types of sage. I had always thought sage was just that smelly plant that antelope ate. Ooh, did I get an education.

Sunday started with a seminar by Tyler Mason who used to be the assistant horticulturalist at the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Now he's working on his PhD at Colorado State University and gave us an overview of his work with developing new vegetable varieties.

Then it was back to the general topics. I only took two of the Sunday topics because I needed to help my wife, Linda, at our vendor's booth. The two I took were on berries and lawns. I didn't really think I'd learn much, but I sure had that wrong. LeRoy Johns, the horticulturalist from Platte County taught berries and I learned more about how to grow berries than I'd even realized was out there. Then I went to the lawns seminar and thought sure I'd not hear anything new. Hmm...I'd already taken the same seminar with the same instructor a couple of years ago. Well, I blew that one, too. Either I didn't listen the first time or Dr. Koski changed the seminar. From my personal standpoint, the greatest thing I learned was how to eliminate pocket gophers, vole and such. Great information. Chris went to a seminar on roses that I had to chuckle at. If you knew my son, you'd understand why. But, once again, he came out all fired up, but this time about roses. He can even tell you what George Washington's favorite rose was.

By the end of the day, though, we were all ready to go home. We tallied the number and found that we'd had a 23% increase in attendance from last year. It's no wonder we were tired. It was a wonderful, information packed weekend, but intense at the same time. I know I slept very well that night and even a little bit late Monday morning. Glad I didn't have to get up and go to work. Next year, I hope to see you there. In the meantime, if you have any questions, ask a Master Gardener. It's what we do.


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