Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Master Gardeners Visiting Oxford in May for State Conference

drought7Spring and the gardening season are just around the corner, even if it seems like they will never arrive. For the Master Gardeners in Lafayette County, the approach of warm weather means they’re getting closer to hosting the Mississippi 2014 Conference & Garden Expo.
The conference will be split into two events, the conference that’s strictly for Master Gardeners who are registered to attend, and the garden expo that’s open to the public.
Any locals with a green thumb have three days to shop for flowers and plants, gardening tools, equipment and supplies, some homemaker crafts and even garden-related art. The garden expo will be at the National Guard Readiness Center, while the Master Gardeners conference will be in the conference section of the Oxford Conference Center.
“We’re going to have about 20 to 25 various vendors from all over the state of Mississippi,” said Colleen McChesney, publicity committee chairman for the Lafayette County Master Gardeners. “We’ll have just about everything, for anybody who wants to find something for the garden.”
The garden expo is planned for 1:00 to 4:30 p.m. on May 20; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on May 21; and 8:30 a.m. to noon on May 22. Local Master Gardeners will be on hand to help customers and answer questions at the expo. The conference theme is “Gardens Grow Communities.”
Master Gardeners live in 50 Mississippi counties, and the Lafayette group has about 80 members. Statewide, more than 1,500 volunteers work in local communities as Master Gardeners.
Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener must complete 40 hours of training in the first year. At that point, the initiate is considered a master gardener intern, according to McChesney. In the second year, interns must complete 40 hours of service, and are then given a Master Gardeners card and certification, becoming an official member of the association. There is a fee for certification.
The association brings in professors and horticulturalists to train future Master Gardeners, on subjects from ornamental plants and soil analysis to the various bugs, pests and diseases that may affect native plants. The training includes readings and some hands-on experience, McChesney said.
Regular registration for Master Gardeners is still available for the conference, until April 30, and late registration will be from May 1 to May 17. All registration is completed online.
About 10 speakers are planned, several from Mississippi State on gardening and others as far away as Chicago. Tours will be offered for Master Gardeners of the University of Mississippi campus and Rowan Oak, on both that Wednesday and Thursday. A self-guided walking tour of Historic Oxford and the University Museum are also planned, along with some tours of private gardens on North and South Lamar.
– Gretchen Stone is associate editor. You can contact Gretchen about this story at

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