Whether it's a long-cherished species of tomato, advice on a drooping rhododendron or simply to find out what's new in the gardening world, the Jackson County Master Gardener Association's 35th annual Spring Garden Fair has something for everyone.
Whether it's to search for a long-cherished species of tomato, advice on rhododendron leaves that droop or simply to learn what's new in the gardening world, the Jackson County Master Gardener Association's 35th annual Spring Garden Fair has something for everyone.
The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4, in the Compton Arena at The Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point. Admission costs $3; it's free for ages 15 and younger.
Every year, nearly 8,000 gardening enthusiasts attend the iconic event — the largest of its kind between San Francisco and Portland — which features more than 150 vendors, growers, exhibitors and booths manned by garden experts. The indoor arena will be filled with thousands of colorful, edible and ornamental plants that are acclimated to thrive in Oregon gardens.
In addition to the opportunity to receive plant advice from the Master Gardeners, the fair will offer classes throughout the weekend on a variety of gardening topics that are relevant to growing in Oregon. A stand-out is a class by Dr. Alan Journet of Southern Oregon Climate Action Now at 2 p.m. Saturday. Journet will discuss recent climate trends and how climate changes will impact agriculture and gardening in the Pacific Northwest.
Preservation is another theme at this year's fair. One such preservation effort sees Jackson County Master Gardeners team up with Rogue Valley resident and nursery specialist Tom Landis to sell milkweed as part of Landis' Milkweeds for Monarchs program, which helps to preserve local habitats for monarch butterflies. Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars eat. This is the first year that milkweed will be for sale alongside the usual stock of fruits, vegetables, annual and perennial flowers, hanging baskets and more.
Another preservation effort will come from the Bee Girl booth, which will have information about preserving honeybees and their food sources in the region. Jacksonville resident and bee expert Sarah Red-Laird is the founder and executive director of Bee Girl, a nonprofit organization that offers community education about bees, beekeeping and the disappearance of bees because of colony collapse disorder.
Red-Laird will present "The Birds and Bees: Conservation through Connections" at 11 a.m. Saturday. Visitors will have an opportunity to learn which native plant species support bees in this area. Many of these plants will be available to purchase.
Other preservation-minded booths and classes include those that feature information and products for organic and sustainable gardening, drought-tolerant gardening, recycling and even food preservation. David Searcy, a conservation specialist with the Medford Water Commission, will host "Irrigation Systems and Water Conservation" at noon Saturday, and "Seed Saving for the Home Gardener" will be presented at noon Sunday by Chuck Burr, founder of Restoration Seeds and president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers' Association.
Innovative gardening techniques and products also will play a prominent role at this year's fair. Examples of new approaches include how to grow a vertical container garden with ergonomically designed planters, the latest in hydroponic gardening and using cutting-edge products to support healthy plants and soil. Master Gardener Chris Hjerrild will offer a class that covers the latest techniques in compost at 11 a.m. Sunday. At 1 p.m. Sunday, Evan Short, founder of Southern Oregon Bokashi, will teach attendees how to use a mixture of symbiotic microorganisms to break down compost and improve soil.
For a complete listing of the vendors and free classes at the fair, see the Jackson County Spring Garden Fair's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/springgardenfairjacksoncounty.