Winter Months and Gardening

Lots to Learn!

Not much gardening gets done in January and February, unless you count taking care of houseplants as gardening. The winter months are a time to pour through seed catalogs, dream of spring and warmer weather – and attend garden seminars. The first two months of the year are downtimes, too, for horticulture professionals, and many take advantage of that time to further their knowledge. We have two such opportunities within an hour of us: the Piedmont Landscape Association’s annual PLA seminar and the Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium sponsored by the Waynesboro Department of Parks and Recreation.

*The Piedmont Landscape Assocation Seminar*

The PLA will take place in Charlottesville on Thursday, February 16th at the Paramount Theatre from 8am until 5pm with three stellar speakers. I have heard all three at one time or another and can vouch that all three are excellent.

Dr. Allen Armitage is probably the most notable perennial expert in this country, the counterpart to the woody plant guru, Dr. Michael Dirr, who spoke here at the first GROW symposium in 2014. Armitage is the recipient of the American Horticultural Society’s National Educator of the Year, is a prolific author and public speaker, and even has his own YouTube channel. He’ll be speaking on the best perennials for the Piedmont area and talking about his life in plants. He is an engaging and humorous speaker.

Nancy Ross Hugo is one of the other speakers. She, too, spoke at the 2014 GROW symposium and it was the consensus that she was the best presenter in the lineup. Warm and inviting, she charmed the audience. In Charlottesville, she’ll be speaking on trees, her favorite subject and inviting us to look closer at their structure.

The third speaker for the PLA Seminar is Peggy Singlemann, Director of Horticulture at Maymont in Richmond. Next time you are in Richmond, be sure and visit this 100 acre Gilded Age estate complete with opulent Victorian mansion, beautifully landscaped grounds, a Nature Center, wildlife exhibits and Children’s Farm. Singlemann has been the garden curator at Maymont for over thirty years. She will be speaking on “Native Shrubs: The Middle Layer”.

Shenandoah Valley Plant Symposium

A little closer to home, the Waynesboro Symposium is held at the Best Western Inn and Conference Center just off of Rte. 64 at Exit 94 on Friday, March 24. This, too, is an all day event, 8am – 4pm.

Dr. Doug Tallamy is the keynote speaker and probably the name most familiar to you. Author of the seminal, Bringing Nature Home, entomologist Tallamy is one of the country’s foremost experts on planting natives for habitat.

If you want to learn more about permaculture, come hear Landscape Architect Will Hooker, a professor of horticulture at NC State, talk about his family’s home, an internationally recognized model of urban permaculture. Hooker will also be doing a second program on ephemeral bamboo sculpture.

Ellen Ogden, author of The Complete Kitchen Garden and co-founder the The Cook’s Garden seed company, is the third presenter and her expertise, obviously, is vegetable gardening. According to Ogden, a beautiful kitchen garden and a productive one are not mutually exclusive.

The final speaker is Vince Simeone, Director of Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park on Long Island who will be talking about the latest trees and shrubs.

I am out of town for the PLA Seminar, but I’ll be at Waynesboro. I’ll see you there!


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