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Green Thumbs Up at Westford Acad.

September 28, 2018

By Scott Shurtleff

sshurtleff@nashobavalleyvoice.com

WESTFORD -- Westford Academy will serve as a one-day mecca for area green thumbs.

On Sept. 29, the high school will be a learning facility of a different type when four prominent horticulturists will be available to plant some ideas.

The all-day symposium will introduce the limited audience to everything from rock arrangements to bug benefits. Whether its weather-related issues or plant-related plans, the experts will explain, through lectures as well as question and answer sessions, how to best grow vegetables and how to murder weeds.

The $90 admission might seem like a lot of lettuce but it includes -- beyond the professional tips on tilling -- lunch, a silent auction, refreshments, socializing and door prizes.

September 22 is the deadline for registration for the 2018 Massachusetts Gardening Symposium, which is presented by the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association.

Visitors will get all the latest dirt on the latest dirty ‘F’ words like flowers, fertilizer and foliage. Vendors will be on hand to peddle petals or sell soil.

The day’s first lecturer, at 9:15 a.m., will be Peter Hatch, author of the popular book “Thomas Jefferson’s Revolutionary Garden,” a look at historical horticulture through the lens and vision of our third president. Hatch is the former caretaker of Monticello grounds and gardens.

The morning session will end when rock garden aficionado Joseph Tychonievich discusses everything from modernism to the classic art of rock gardens, at 10:45 a.m.

This is the third annual symposium for the MMGA, a non-profit group that helps certify master gardeners and educate novices.

The second half will begin with Jessica Walliser talking about how to attract helpful insects. She is the author of “Good Bug, Bad Bug” and a former organic farmer. She talks ticks at 12:45.

Kelly Norris is a noted educator of botany and will be the day’s last speaker. His 2:15 speech will focus on “plants with style” and the harmony that grows from plant combinations and people’s relationships to the earth.

The auditorium inside Westford Academy hosted about 300 people last year and Ann Morgan, MMGA’s marketing coordinator, expects about as many this year.

“About 20 percent are first timers,” she said.

The mission of MMGA is to provide horticultural education and service throughout the year. The theme and objective of the symposium is “inspiration for next year,” she said.

“We give them ideas and tips on how to get started in the spring,” she said. “We cannot take walk-ins because we need to count the number of registrations so we can properly organize. We have to prepare lunch and handout material so an accurate count is important.”

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