p>There is so much information to be shared among gardeners throughout the area that one start-up program aims to be the source of much of that information.
For Judy Kirkland, a master gardener and president of the After Six Garden Club, the decision to organize the program was a no-brainer.
"Pat Hathaway, the president of the Augusta Council of Garden Clubs, gave me a flyer at our Jan. 21 executive board meeting and asked me if I would be interested in organizing and chairing the basic horticulture classes," said Kirkland. "Of course I was interested. It turned out to be bigger than either of us realized, and we have called in reinforcements and co-chairs."
While many of the details such as meeting location and cost are still being finalized, the basic program outline is moving forward.
"The basic horticulture sessions will be one-day classes offered on Saturdays about one month apart," explained Kirkland. "A participant must register for each separately, so he (or) she can take one or several classes."
Individuals who take all seven classes will receive a certificate. Classes will be taught by local gardeners and will include a morning classroom setting followed by an afternoon tour of a garden or nursery.
"There is always something to be learned," said Kirkland. "Rules change as science and experimentation take hold. For example, gardeners used to be told to dig a hole and enrich the soil before planting trees. Now, they are told not to enrich the soil because the tree's roots get too comfortable in the enriched soil and will not venture out, much like a root-bound potted plant."
Additionally, many new cultivars are being developed, and there is a desire to share those with other interested gardeners.
"For example, we now have sun coleus and impatiens," explained Kirkland. "These former shade plants have new forms that will take more sun. And coral bells come in multiple colors."
Kirkland said that the horticulture classes will be offered on a more convenient scale than most other gardening classes in the area.
"The Garden Club of Georgia offers some two-day sessions about six months apart that are too demanding for some people to take," she said.
"The difficulties also apply to Master Gardener sessions, which were some of the best sessions I ever took. That requires a commitment of two days per week for three months and a test to pass, plus 25 to 50 volunteer hours. Again, some people cannot make such a commitment. I could not until I retired."
Among topics that the basic horticulture classes will explore will be food gardening and soil preparation; trees and shrubs; native plants; improved cultivars; herbs; indoor gardens; and annuals, biennials and perennials. Registration for the classes will start next month with the first session slated for early June.
To defray cost of the program, the Augusta Council of Garden Clubs is currently holding a fundraiser. To order bulbs, garden sculptures, gardening-related gift items and other plant products, e-mail Kirkland at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (706) 556-3417 or (706) 533-1149.
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