AP NEWS

Spring Garden Show continuing to grow

March 25, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — Its hallways lined with fragrant, colorful flowers and vibrant leafy greens of all size and shapes, spring truly appeared to be in the air at Michigan City High School on Saturday.

The La Porte County Master Gardener Association’s fourth annual Spring Garden Show drew hundreds of green thumbs from across Northwest Indiana and beyond to the local school building just several days after the official start of spring. In addition to learning more about horticulture and nature from one of 14 featured lectures and demonstrations, guests had a chance to browse a selection of plants, seeds and other products for sale in the makeshift show room, where 50 vendors from across the region set up shop.

While organizers did not have an exact headcount on hand, they believe attendance was on easily on track to surpass last year’s figure of around 400, said local Silver Level Master Gardener Eunice Conway, who co-chaired the planning committee for the show with fellow Silver Level Master Gardener Ann Klosinski. The association ordered 350 tote bags and 500 books to giveaway to guests during the show — all of which were gone by midday, Conway said.

“It’s totally unbelievable this year,” she said.

In addition to the giveaways and deals, the presentations were a big hit with attendees on Saturday, the co-chairs said. The association lined up a diverse range of speakers and topics, including Michigan City’s Sacha Gee-Burns, who spoke on organic gardening practices; beekeeper Doug Anderson, who shared how health-conscious consumers can incorporate more honey into their diet; and farm owner Joe Gady, who gave a class on fermentation that was particularly popular with guests, Conway said.

Freelance horticulture consultant Susan Martin served as the event’s keynote speaker. The Michigan woman gave back-to-back talks in the school’s media center: one focusing on shade gardens and another on advice for growing perennials plants.

“The first four rows didn’t move the entire time — they sat for 40 minutes between her first talk and her second,” Conway said. “They love listening to these presentations.”

While these lectures were aimed at growing the knowledge and passion of veteran and newbie green thumbs, event organizers also reached out to young minds who are just getting their hands dirty in the soil. Saturday’s garden show had a number of activities for children, including a presentation by Ron Taylor with Michigan City’s Friendship Botanic Gardens, who gave children a chance to get up close and personal with live bugs, spiders and other critters.

Besides making the garden show more family-friendly, the master gardener association hoped the activities would plant a love of the outdoors in children that will continue to grow as they mature, Klosinski said.

“Children are our future master gardeners,” she said. “A lot of kids have never been exposed to gardening and are delighted to learn more about it.”

Both Conway and Klosinski — who will earn their gold level badges later this spring — have spent thousands of hours coordinating Saturday’s event, lining up speakers and vendors and placing advertisements online and in print to promote it, they said. Around 50 of the La Porte County Master Gardener Association’s 70 members volunteered on Saturday, while students with the local ROTC program helped set up tables and chairs before guests arrived.

While it may take a large effort to pull off every year, witnessing the rapid growth of the garden show itself has been a great feeling — as well as knowing the association has done its part to deepen the community’s appreciation of horticulture and nature, the co-chairs said.

Whether starting a home garden or just spending a few minutes in the evening sitting on a rocking chair on the front porch, the organizers encourage people to appreciate all that Mother Nature provides.

“I know people are tired when they get home after work, but just go outside and see the beauty,” Conway said. “It makes you feel more relaxed.”

Next year’s Spring Garden Show will take place on March 21, 2020.

Those interested in learning more about the La Porte County Master Gardener Association may call 324-9407 or visit lpmastergardener.com.