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The season is coming for gaining new gardening knowledge

“That time of year thou mayst in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs where late the sweet birds sang.”

— William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 73,” 1609

Sonnet 73 is one of several instances in which the Bard used the seasons as metaphors for human aging. In “The Winter’s Tale” (1610), Perdita welcomes guests to the village’s sheep shearing festival by passing out herbs according to their “time of day.”

“Reverend sirs, for you there’s rosemary and rue; these keep seeming and savor all the winter long.” One of the men replies, “Shepherdess, a fair one are you — well you fit our ages with flowers of winter.”

As a gardener, it’s interesting to note the plants Shakespeare thought of when he wanted to conjure up images for the different seasons: yellow leaves for fall, “savory” rosemary for winter, “violets dim” for spring, “hot lavender” for summertime.

I have my own botanical signifiers for the seasons in Southern Oregon. Autumn arrives, for me, in Medford when the maple trees turn red and gold and our front yard is a mosaic of fallen leaves. Among the evergreen conifers along the coast, autumn greets me when the paths are strewn with green pinecones, dropped by small, gray squirrels as they dart among the branches collecting their winter’s store.

I also associate the fall with learning more about gardening at the annual Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens Symposium, hosted by the Jackson County Master Gardener Association in support of the OSU Extension Service.

I spoke with Rebecca Jurta, who headed up the Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens committee this year with fellow Master Gardener Kathy Apple. In fact, Rebecca decided to participate in the Master Gardener program in 2017 after attending the Winter Dreams conference.

“I really enjoyed the interactions with other gardeners at the symposium and wanted to continue that,” she said.

Rebecca got me excited about the diversity of presentation topics slated for this year’s conference. Thirty-five classes are scheduled in four sessions. New and seasoned symposium speakers include professors from OSU and the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, as well as local specialists in several specific aspects of horticulture.

“We were very intentional about making sure the symposium has something for all levels of gardening experience,” Rebecca told me. Here is the 2019 WDSG lineup by category:

Gardening for the Future

Hügelkultur: An Atmosphere-Friendly Alternative to Burn Piles

Sustainable Landscaping

Including Climate Change in Your Garden Planning

All about Roots and Regenerative Gardening

Regenerative Agriculture: A Powerful Tool for Responding to Climate Change


Managing Your Land for Biodiversity & Resilience Using Native Plants

Native Asters, Bulbs & Lupines for Home Gardens

Chasing Wildflowers

Propagating Native Plants from Seed

Edibles: Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

All about Apples

High Quality Table Grapes from Yard to Table

Producing Blueberries in Your Home Garden on Patio


Herbs: Grow, Harvest and Use

The Best Veggies for the Rogue Valley

Wildlife, Bees & Birds

Dueling with Diggers

Be Bear Aware

Silent Spring 2.0

Top 10 Beneficial Insects to Know and Love

Latest Research on Bee-Friendly Gardens

Annuals, Perennials and Trees

Fall in Love with Annuals and Seeds

The Dry Shade Challenge

The Care & Hybridization of Daylilies

Trees of Southern Oregon

Maintenance: Plants, Gardens and Gardeners

Pruning Tools and Tips

Avoiding the Green Meatball: How and When to Prune Flowering Shrubs

Healthy Gardeners

Soil Fertility in Garden Beds: NPK and Beyond

How to Train and Grow Espaliered Fruit Trees

Get Inspired

The Humble Groundcover: A New Look at an Old Landscape Staple

Basic Botany for Plant ID

Creating a New Garden: What Really Matters?

The Basics of Beekeeping

All about Fragrance in the Garden

Creating a Backyard Bird Habitat

Each 90-minute class will allow time for discussion between the speakers and audience. In addition to the presentations, there will be bulb sales, garden book sales and informational displays. Kristin Lyon from Jefferson Farm Kitchen in Jacksonville will serve lunch, which is optional this year for an additional $10.

The Winter Dreams/Summer Gardens symposium takes place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the RCC/SOU Higher Education Center, 101. S. Bartlett St., Medford. The cost is $45 if registered by Oct. 20; $55 after. For more information about the program, speakers and registration, see the Jackson County Master Gardener Association website at www.jacksoncountymga.org.

Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, teacher and writer. Email her at Rnowak39@gmail.com. For more about gardening, visit her blog at http://blogs.esouthernoregon.com/theliterarygardener/ and check out her podcasts and videos at https://mailtribune.com/podcasts/the-literary-gardener.