If locally raised plants, free gardening classes, helpful demonstrations and used books at bargain prices sounds fun to you, you'll not want to miss the 35th annual Jackson County Master Gardener Spring Garden Fair Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4.
Jackson County Master Gardener students have been busy raising more than 7,000 plants from seeds, cuttings, bulbs and division. More than 2,000 of the plants are ornamentals, from alyssum to zinnias, along with trees and shrubs.
New items this year include hanging baskets, succulent arrange-ments and milkweed, grown in conjunction with the Monarch butterfly project.
Each year, the tomato seedlings grown by the students are in great demand. This year the Master Gardener booth will 2,000 tomato plants, with 48 varieties, including 17 heirlooms and 23 early varieties that do best in the Rogue Valley. You will also find 29 varieties of peppers, nine varieties of eggplant, plus artichokes, strawberries and raspberries, rhubarb and 26 kinds of herbs.
In addition to the plants raised by Master Gardener students, many knowledgeable vendors will set up shop, including nurseries, supply companies and sellers of landscape and garden equipment.
Several free classes will be offered both days, from trapping gophers and bee conservation to composting, seed saving, plant propagation and how climate change might affect local gardeners.
The Plant Clinic will be there, as will a well-water testing booth. So bring your plant, insect and disease questions for the Plant Clinic, and a sample of your well water to be tested for nitrates. Both services are free.
Stan Mapolski will broadcast his Saturday morning "Rogue Gardener" radio show from the fair, so come and meet him, and perhaps ask him a question on the air.
You will be able to buy at a discounted price the two Rogue Valley garden guides written by local Master Gardeners, one covering vegetables, melons and berries, and the other one concentrating on trees and shrubs. There will also be a used book booth that will include gardening, cooking and craft books.
At a booth called "The Gifted Gardener," Master Gardeners will sell top-quality garden items — many suitable for gift-giving — at deeply discounted prices. Proceeds will go to the Master Gardener program, which will help keep the program self-supporting and allow it to continue giving local school grants and a college horticulture scholarship.
The fair will be held at The Expo in Central Point from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 3, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 4. Admission costs $3; free for those 15 and younger. Parking is free.
Carol Oneal is a past president of the OSU Jackson County Master Gardeners Association. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.