Symposium Report – Flowers, Chickens and Bugs, Oh My!
The day was rainy and cold outside but inside the Peppercorn Banquet Hall in Monroe, gardeners from Green County and the surrounding area were dreaming about warm breezes, sunshine and luscious, productive, green gardens. On Saturday, March 9th the South Central Wisconsin Master Gardeners hosted 85 green thumbs to learn about Flowers, Chickens and Bugs, Oh My! The first featured speaker was Mark Dwyer, Horticulture Director from Rotary Botanical Gardens who warmed us up with colorful photos of beautiful flower annuals, those that have been tested and admired by visitors to Janesville’s popular garden.
Next came the girls in the garden – hens in the flock –pleasures and pitfalls of sharing your yard with chickens. Susan Troller shared her introduction of chickens in her farmyard and the stories in her book, “Cluck: From Jungle Fowl to City Chicks”. Having her store, Cluck so close in Paoli makes me want to get those girls in my yard but more importantly, their eggs in my fridge.
At lunch; of wonderful soup and sandwich, Susan and her husband sold, signed and advised on a life and garden with chickens.
Now to the bugs. I had the pleasure of introducing Susan Mahr, long time state coordinator for the Master Gardener Program in Wisconsin. Her expertise is clearly the bugs in our backyards. She provided an overview of the good and bad bugs we’d find in and around our gardens and how to rid them in a safe and sustainable way.
In the afternoon, we broke up into smaller groups to “dig a little deeper “ understanding the art of growing flowers –
Lloyd Ravet, Madison Area Iris Society, shared his expertise in growing the wide variety of iris bulbs (second most diverse plant genus next to orchids). In May, our SCWMGA will visit one of our local Iris gardens, Breezeway Iris Garden owners Myron, Doris and George Bason in Oregon.
My next session highlighted Dr. Ken Cameron,Professor of Botany and expert in the vanilla orchid. He gave us an overview of the exotic world of easy to grow but a challenge to flower – the Orchid. The a-ha moment for me was when Ken suggested that you take your orchids outside for the summer. My home has lots of indirect light but limited air circulation and moisture. It makes sense to let our orchids recover in the wind and humidity of summer after a dried out winter in the house.
The one downfall of inviting 4 flower family experts is that I could only listen to 2. The other two experts shared their passions for Dahlias, Jeff and Monique Volden and the beautiful world of Roses with Sherry Shaft, Madison Rose Society.
We wrapped up the day with prizes for lots of the participants and the close of the silent auction. I was lucky to score one of the four donations I bid on – a basket of antique creations, book and primrose from Franklin Grove in Atica. As we left that day, the rain had stopped but the wind was still blowing. I’m inspired to garden but slowed down by our late spring.
Submitted by Cheryl Rezabek, garden blogger