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Planning, training and promotion

March 22, 2018

We have been really embracing the zoom technology lately, and it seems we have opportunities to use it every week.  Today, I had a meeting with the azalea society folks and we went old school and did a phone conference call.  We are getting down to the wire and needed to wrap up some of the details.   This afternoon I drove to Lonoke to speak to their MG training.  They had an eager group of trainees and one of their largest classes.  This is the county that is leading the salad table enterprise.   I wrote an article for the paper on Saturday and they have been inundated with orders and phone calls. They are going to be busy building for a while.  Luckily, they are getting a big new class of potential builders.   I just got home a little while ago and need to pack and prepare for the rest of this week and the week ahead.  I have a really full week ahead–even for me this is going to be a packed schedule. I drive up to Fulton County tomorrow for their Ozarks Sports and Outdoor Expo on Saturday.  There is a lot of activities going on at this event

I am speaking from 10-12 on bulbs and then butterfly gardening.  I will drive home after that and have a night at home before heading to Harrison on Sunday afternoon.  I will be in  Harrison Monday morning for the District Dig In where we will also be conducting our MG Monday zoom session from 1-2 p.m.  From there I head to Mountain View on Tuesday for their evening Meet the Masters Event.  Home on Wednesday and then out overnight to Fort Smith on Thursday night for our planning session for MG conference.  Home in time to go to Mama Mia on Friday and then Sheridan on Saturday for a garden talk.  It is definitely a BUSY month.

I also want to share some good PR we received in the River Valley edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sunday.  Pope County MG Frank Russenberg was featured in an outstanding article for their MG of the Year.  It is a great article and excellent publicity for the MG program.  Great job Frank!  

Please send us copies when your members or county program is featured in local media. These would also be great to attach to your county histories, that I hope you are all writing this year.

Where did spring go? Planning for a 30 year celebration.

March 20, 2018

We went from a balmy 80 degree, sunny day yesterday to a cloudy, cold and windy day today.  We were outside a good portion of the morning and it was NIPPY!  I even had a fire in the fireplace tonight since I have turned my heat off and really don’t want to turn it back on.

Julie, Randy and I met with Joyce from P. Allen Smith’s staff and our caterers today at Moss Mountain to take the 30 year MG celebration a step further.    We talked about where we would set up tents for food, cake, drinks, station guest speakers, park cars and buses and looked at some potential merchandise.    We did not walk the entire garden because of the cold, and also it is not fully growing yet.  There are beautiful fields of daffodils and tulips.    We did take a sneak peek from the windows before we left.    Regardless of the season, Moss Mountain is a beautiful locale and a fitting setting for our celebration of 30 years of the MG program and Joyce could not be easier to work with.   Master Gardeners need to mark their calendars for October 13.  It is going to be a spectacular event.  I think we were all excited as we drove back to the office thinking of all the things we were going to do.

I spent time in the office working before heading home in time to do a zoom session this evening with our online MG class participants.  Again, a wonderful way to communicate with a lot of counties in an easy setting. 

It is supposed to get to 39 degrees tonight in Little Rock, so much colder in outlying areas.  Let’s hope this cold disappears quickly.

District Dig In, El Dorado

March 19, 2018

What a fabulous day we had today in El Dorado.  We had a great location for our second of three District Dig Ins.

We had a nice crowd to hear several topics, exchange ideas and share a wonderful meal.  Our first speaker was Kerry Heafner, a regional agent from LSU.  Kerry talked about their Louisiana Super Plants program and how those plants would fare in Arkansas.  We got some great ideas for plants to try.  We then heard a brief description and welcome from County 76 president Linda Soffer district dig in el dorado (11)and then I discussed the past, present and future of the Arkansas MG program, followed by lunch

and then new plants. We had plenty of time to answer questions.  A big thank you goes to Union County MG’s for securing our location, helping us set-up and organize things.  It was a good event.

Our drive home had the air-conditioning going full blast with 80 degree temperatures outside.  The redbuds were blooming,redbud_tree_entire_01-21-14 wisteria was beginning to bloom2-wisteria-close and we saw so much Carolina jessamine–some so entangled in a crape myrtle that it looked like a yellow blooming tree!

It really is amazing at the differences in our plants and their growth from the top to the bottom of the state.  Our official first day of spring is two days away, but spring has sprung in south Arkansas at least!

El Dorado and spring is sprung

March 18, 2018

I had a little time at home and did have a lovely brunch this morning with friends brunch mar18 (1)before loading up and heading south to El Dorado.  The further south we drove, the further along the plants were.  We saw a host of deer feasting on the side of the road and there were loads of blooming Carolina jasmine in the trees all along the drive.

There was even a bloom on the rose outside of our hotel, rose mar 18.18and the flowering pears were full of leaves with no blooms left.  It is definitely light years ahead of NW Arkansas down here.

Julie and I are here tonight so we can be at the church early tomorrow to set up for our second district dig in.  We had a nice meal tonight downtown and Julie had to have the local dessert. julie dessert march18 (2)

We have a nice crew coming tomorrow and the weather is supposed to be 71 degrees.  Spring is definitely here!

Growing an Ozark Green Thumb and Happy St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2018

It was a packed room today for the 24th annual Growing an Ozark Green Thumb gardening seminar hosted by the Baxter County Master Gardeners.  It was so well-organized and flowed perfectly.  They had booths all around the room with posters of their projects and how-to sessions, plus time with each speaker during the breaks. They had tables loaded with garden magazines to share, items to bid on with tickets, and a sign up for their monthly newsletter (which I think is a great idea).     Event chair Jane Druff had things handled well and was still smiling as the day progressed.   As with any MG event, they also made sure folks were welcomed and well-fed, besides being educated.   Someone had a clivia in full bloom at their talking station and I am so impressed. I do love these flowers.  It was good to see so many people from all across the state.

It was a pleasant drive home and the storms and rain that were predicted did not materialize in any parts of the state where I was the past few days.  I will say that Baxter County is behind us on the spring event with very few trees leafing out except Bradford pears. There were daffodils, flowering quince and forsythia in bloom, but the rest is just beginning to emerge.

The further south I drove, the more color and green I saw.  When I did make it home I walked the garden and actually watered for the first time this year.  Many of my new plants were quite dry and of course many more still need to be planted.  When that will happen is anyone’s guess.  I also discovered I need to replace my hose. I have numerous splits and cracks in it and it leaks like a sieve.

I wore my green today, and so did many MG’s (it is nice that their shirts and name tags are green, so it was easy).  Clay and I also tag-teamed our annual corned beef and cabbage dinner. He had it going in the crockpot and I added the potatoes and cabbage after I got home. It was a very tasty meal, and my purple shamrock they gave me is already going to sleep for the night.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

The weather has definitely warmed up. We have every window in the house open so it might get nippy overnight, but it is delightful right now.

Greene County to Baxter County

March 16, 2018

I am so impressed with the Greene County Master Gardeners!  Today was their spring gardening event on native plants and fauna.greene co garden event.mar18 (7)They are a small to mid-sized group but they do mighty things!  When I arrived this morning, greene co garden event.mar18 (2)the normal room where they hold events was doubled in size, and they filled it before the seminar began.

As always with this county, they had enough food to feed the county, replenishing it after every break.  No one went away hungry.greene co garden event.mar18 (5)

They had three speakers. I started off with native plants, then Dr. Dan Schieman from Arkansas Audubon spoke on creating a bird friendly yard, with the final speaker being the director of horticulture of the Dixon Gardens in Memphis, Dale Skaggs on gardening with nature. It was interesting to hear all our perspectives on native plants and their reason for being planted.  My talk was very similar to Dale’s with a very similar plant list.  I think everyone brings their personal perspective to native plants and what they hope to achieve.  A birder wants to favor the birds, while butterfly gardeners want host and nectar plants, and the bee gardener wants plants for bees year round.  Then you have horticulturists who want a variety of plants, entomologists who live for insects and on and on.  I think there is room for all, and the key is to work with what you have and garden for YOUR enjoyment and YOUR desires for what comes to your yard.  There is no one way to garden, and I think that is what makes gardens so interesting.  There is no such thing as a cookie cutter approach to gardening. Grow what you want and what works in your yard, just make sure it isn’t going to be invasive.

When it was over, I drove to Baxter County on roads I had never been on before. I went through a whole host of towns I had not heard of before.  Ravenden had a large Raven statue,ravenden town.mar18 and I saw fields of daffodils all over.  It would have been a prettier drive in sunshine, but I only went through a few bouts of light showers on the drive. It is semi-sunny in Mountain Home.  While not a short drive, it was an easy one.  I did stop in to pick up a few things at the local WalMart when I arrived and was not surprised to see a huge selection of tomato and pepper plants outside, but their bare root fruit crops–grapes, blueberries and more were inside the heated store and growing quite nicely with not a whole lot to support their growth.bareroot plants growing (1)

They did have some pretty gerbera daisies and a really nice petunia.

I did not buy anything because I have plenty to plant already and am not home to do any gardening!  Tomorrow is the Ozark Green Thumb Event in Mountain Home.  Then I will drive home and have a night home before heading south on Sunday to El Dorado.


New Technology & Paragould

March 15, 2018

I spent half a day at the office. I met up with our County 76 merchandising team to load in my car a supply of gardening gadgets to bring to Paragould for sales tomorrow at the Greene County MG event.  We also spent some time organizing the activities for the rest of the month for us. I am on the road more than I am in the office so we have to take whatever time we can to get together and plan. We did get a lot accomplished.  I hear that our online record keeping system is getting closer to going live.  Keep your fingers crossed!

This afternoon I drove to Paragould since I am the first speaker tomorrow.  It was a beautiful day for a drive–temperatures in the low 70’s.  I had to have the air conditioner on all the way up.  Quite a change from freezing temps in many parts of the state most mornings this week.

As I was checking into my hotel I noticed signs in the hallway for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I ran into some friends I know who were up here selling their new package.  Newspapers are trying new things all over the country and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is cutting home delivery in some of the more northeastern counties.  It started in Blytheville and they are now in Paragould and soon Pocahontas.  Instead of a paper newspaper, for a regular monthly subscription, you get a free iPad so you can view your paper online.  What a deal! and it has been met with very good reviews.    While many people still like the actual paper in their hands, I have been reading it on-line during the week for a while now. I still get the paper on the weekends, but I am gone so much that I donate the paper newspaper to a local school during the week. You can still read all the stories (and the most up-to-date issue) but just via an iPad–which you get for free, with pointers on how to use it!

So if you are near the Holiday Inn Express in Paragould tomorrow until 4 p.m. stop in and sign up.  They will be visiting many of the NE counties in the coming weeks, so contact the newspaper to find out when they may be in an area near you.


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