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Spring into the new season at the Hall County Master Gardeners expo
Annual plant sell set for April 1-2 at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center
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Jean Scharle of Randy’s Perrennials and Water Gardens tells Lisa Elliott about some of the plants she has for sale at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center during the 2015 Hall County Master Gardeners Spring Expo. This year's event will be April 1-2 in Gainesville.

Hall County Master Gardeners Spring Expo

When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 1, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 2

Where: Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center, 1855 Calvary Church Road, Gainesville

Cost: $2 adults 18 and older and free for children; no pets allowed

More info: www.hallmastergardeners.com

As winter ends and spring blooms, the time to spruce up the yard and plant a garden has arrived.

For horticulture enthusiasts and novice gardeners alike, the Hall County Master Gardeners Spring Expo offers the opportunity to purchase plants, supplies and accessories. Participants also may learn more about the best way to landscape and structure a garden.

The Spring Expo will be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 1 and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 2 at the Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center at 1855 Calvary Church Road in Gainesville.

Tickets are $2 for adults 18 and older, and free for children. Pets are not allowed.

“(The Expo) is one of the best plant sales in Northeast Georgia,” Spring Expo Chairwoman Lori Knutson said. “We bring in vendors from our area, as well as outlying areas.”

Master Gardener Dena Westbrooks said she looks forward to it every year.

“You find plants that you read about and hear about,” she said.

A large portion of the fare is native plants, or species that grow well in the Georgia climate.

“I mostly go for the native plants because they are important,” Westbrooks said. “They take less care and support local pollinators.”

Along with foliage for sale, a variety of other items will be available for purchase. All will relate to gardening and outdoor lifestyle.

“(It will have) tools, garden art and woodworking, as well as jams and jellies from local artisans,” said Mindy Wade, who has been the Spring Expo chairwoman for the past three years.

In addition, four speakers during the two-day event will give in-depth talks on various garden and outdoor topics.

At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday, lectures will focus on beekeeping and raised vegetable gardens, respectively.

Bob Bradbury, owner of B&B Enterprises and a Hall County Master Gardener, will share his experiences as a beekeeper at 11 a.m. Friday.

“We are dealing with the benefits of pollination, (which are) a tremendous help to a gardener,” said Bradbury, who will also touch on the obstacles of beekeeping. “Most beekeepers lose a portion of their bees every year, and how to deal with that.”

Bradbury also will have his honey and honey-related products for sale at his booth.

At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, two other speakers will advise the attendees on creating deer-resistant gardens and provide expertise on conifers and pruning techniques.

For more personal assistance, a volunteer table staffed with Master Gardeners will answer visitors’ questions.

“One of the key areas is ... Ask A Master Gardener ... located just as visitors come in,” Lori Knutson said. “(It’s a) great place to ask questions.”

Expo visitors are not the only ones who benefit from the spring event. Vendors and entrepreneurs also find items of interest.

Kathy Peake, founder of Bee Blam (a natural health products company), attends the Expo every year.

“I most like Carolina natives,” Peake said. “I get plants that are hearty in the winters and grow healthier in Georgia.”

As well as being a beekeeper and business owner, Peake is a health care science teacher at Flowery Branch High School. She blends honey with herbs and oils to create her organic line of products.

“I buy most of my (supplies) from the Expo, because I can get things that are rare and hard to find,” she said.

Casual browsers can find yard art and advice on growing a healthy and productive garden, while serious gardeners can obtain items and plants to last the 2016 summer growing season.

“You get the old itch to get out and plant,” Bradbury said. “(The Expo) provides an opportunity for gardening folks to get out and buy plants.”

After satisfying their gardening needs, visitors can quench any hunger cravings by chowing down on Sweet Butts BBQ, which is catering the event.

All volunteer-run, the Spring and Fall Garden Expos are the main source of yearly funds for the Hall County Master Gardeners, who pour the money back into the community. The funds help support the Master Gardeners’ programs including the Junior Master Gardener programs at Hall County elementary schools and Gardens on Green.

The gardens at the Hall County Board of Education office teach second-graders a range of lessons including the life cycle of insects and being environmentally conscious. All of the hands-on activities happen in the garden and complement students’ school curriculum.

The overall goal is to impart schoolchildren with the desire to beautify Hall County through the educational endeavors.

For more information, visit www.hallmastergardeners.com.

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