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Fall is perfect time to plan for spring
Garden expo vendors will be selling plants and garden art
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Gardeners, don’t let fall’s cool evenings and lower temperatures fool you into thinking your garden’s done for the year.

In fact, fall is the perfect time to start planting perennials, said Dave Rusk, president of Hall County Master Gardeners. That’s why this weekend’s Fall Garden Expo is the perfect opportunity to get some plants and let them take root during the winter.

"Demand is not as great for plants in the fall, but we’re trying to change that," Rusk said. "The argument being that fall is really the best time to plant shrubs and a lot of perennials, and the reason is that the roots get established over the winter. When spring comes, the roots are already established and they’re ready to go."

Gardeners can find a variety of plant vendors at this fall’s expo, including many varieties of trees and shrubs, as well as annuals such as pansies and mums, which are appropriate flowers for planting in the fall.

"Well, mums are sort of a perennial, but they die back and come back," Rusk added. "Point is, there are some annuals you can plant in the fall."

This year’s expo also will feature many artists selling their garden-appropriate art. Rusk said garden art seems to get more popular every year.

A couple vendors sell recycled metal art fashioned into 4-foot-tall accordian-playing frogs and other fun characters. Others sell bird houses, painted windows and concrete figurines.

"Garden art is those things that accent features in a garden," Rusk said. "They draw attention to sort of a focal point and generally they’re just placed among the plants and flowers, not to distract from the plants and flowers but to provide a focal point."

Rusk makes painted windows which can hang in the garden. He said he has one hanging from a trellis, above a metal bench in his garden.

In past years, the Fall Garden Expo was held the same weekend as the Fall Master Gardeners’ Symposium, Rusk said, but because the two events always put a strain on the number of volunteers required to run both — and many master gardeners wanted to attend both events — the symposium has been moved to Oct. 11.

"So, we’ve separated that back out and that gives the master gardeners the opportunity to go to the symposium, and it eases the burden on the number of volunteers we need for both," Rusk said.

But like the Spring Garden Expo, representatives from Gainesville will be on hand this weekend to give away free mulch, and Habitat for Humanity will also offer different items to raffle off to benefit the organization. And the Junior Master Gardeners’ group from Chestnut Mountain Elementary School will be selling tulip and hyacinth bulbs as a fundraiser.

The mulch is a good deal, Rusk added.

"They have truckloads of it," he said. "Last spring I looked up and there were 18 pickup trucks lined up. So the word is out ... people are looking for it. It’s cheap and it’s excellent mulch."