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State Master Gardeners to convene in Gainesville
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Georgia Master Gardeners annual winter conference
When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, reception and juried art show and sale; work sessions rum from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: First Baptist Church Conference Center, 751 Green St. NW, Gainesville
How much: $75 for conference, $10 for reception on Friday (admission to conference includes Friday reception)
More info: 770-535-8293 or register at the door on Saturday morning

Coming Friday

Find out how garden expert Pamela Crawford, who will be speaking Saturday at the state Master Gardeners conference, tests thousands of plants to see which ones survive in containers. IN LIFE

Just because the ground is near frozen doesn’t mean you can’t be thinking about gardening.

At least, that’s what hundreds of attendees will be doing on Saturday as the annual Georgia Master Gardeners’ Statewide Winter Conference rolls into town, opening on Friday with a reception and art show and continuing Saturday with speakers on a variety of gardening topics.

But while the conference is organized and targeted toward Master Gardeners, it doesn’t mean avid gardeners can’t join in the lectures. In fact, said Georgia Master Gardeners president Brenda Beckham, the public is encouraged to attend and share in the expert speakers.

“It is a Master Gardener program, but anyone who’s excited about gardening can go,” she said. “It’s educational and anybody can benefit.”

Speakers for the Saturday seminars are:

  • Carol Reese, a specialist in ornamental horticulture at the University of Tennessee who will speak about gardens as an art form.

  • Pamela Crawford, author of eight books and landscape designer whose gardens have been featured on HGTV and numerous magazines, will speak about easy container gardening.

  • George Sanko, who started the College Herbarium at Georgia Perimeter College along with other plant collections housing thousands of native plants and ferns. He will be speaking on ferns for shade and sun gardens.

  • Walter Reeves, a “garden guru” for the Southeast and regular contributor to radio, TV and newspapers across the region, who will be speaking about “The Georgia Gardener.”

Beckham said the annual conference is held in different areas of the state each year — with past years in counties such as Cobb, Gwinnett and Clarke — but she’s happy to be in Hall County this year. The conference opens Friday night with a reception and juried show and sale of local garden-themed art. Conferences start Saturday morning; all events will take place at First Baptist Church’s conference center.

“Hall County has done a great job of putting that together,” Beckham said. “We try to do a social with a little something attached to it for each conference; most likely it’s workshops, but at the winter conference it’s a bit harder to pull off (outside workshops).”

Crawford, one of the presenters on Saturday, said the workshops will be beneficial not only to Master Gardeners but also to garden enthusiasts who are looking to expand their knowledge.

“It covers a lot; we’re going to be going at lightning speed,” she said of her topic, which covers three books’ worth of container gardening information. “When they’re done, (attendees) are going to know a lot of information, and they are going to know where to go for references. The point is to teach people how to do things.”