Green with anticipation

Learn about great plants for Dayton soil at the 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference Learn about great plants for Dayton soil at the 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference

Learn about great plants for Dayton soil at the 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference

Your Spring Garden is just around the corner

By Valerie Beerbower

With January’s snow and frigid temperatures, it can be hard to picture yourself outside, up to your elbows in soil, preparing your garden or landscape, but because spring really is just around the corner, there’s no better time to hone your gardening skills—and the 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference is your ticket to lush floral beds and robust vegetables.

This year’s conference is set for 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 5, at the Sinclair Community College Ponitz Center. Keynote speakers include Dr. Peter Del Tredici and Jeff Lowenfels. Del Tredici, senior research scientist of Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum, bridges the gap between horticulture and botany in his talk on wild urban plants.

Del Tredici’s interests are wide-ranging and cover such topics as plant morphology, conifers, bonsai, urban horticulture, plant/microbial symbioses and tree architecture. A member of the Garden Writers of America Hall of Fame, Lownefels is a leading proponent of gardening using the concepts of the soil food web. A life-long gardener, he has written countless articles, hosts a popular gardening TV show and founded a successful program for soup kitchens called “Plant a Row for the Hungry” that is active in 48 states and has resulted in over 14 million meals fed to those in need. A native New Yorker, this Harvard graduate and now works as an attorney in Alaska.

Your information-packed day consists of several sessions (design, plant selection, growing techniques, gardening for all ages and a joint session) from which you may choose your skill level (beginner, advanced or vegetable gardening tracts). Participants also may take advantage of hands-on demonstrations taking place in the hall during lunch and afternoon breaks.

Other featured experts include MetroParks’ Grow with Your Neighbors Supervisor, Luci Beachdell; Ohio State University Extension State Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator, Pam Bennett; Chris and Tony Carpenter, owners/managers of Beyond The Greenhouse garden center and landscaping; owner/operator of Smaller Footprint Organics, Doug Christen; Marvin Duren, owner of Marvin’s Organic Gardens, greenhouse, nursery and landscaping, and Wes Duren, organic gardening expert from Marvin’s Organic Gardens; MetroParks’ Grow With Your Neighbors Assistant, Kasey Henneman; Jim Jasinski, assistant professor, Ohio State University Extension; registered Horticultural Therapist Karen Kennedy; Rich Pearson, Cox Arboretum MetroPark horticulturalist; Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark Youth Education Department Assistant Tim Pritchard; Eric Sauer, landscape architect and principal of Cypripedium Landscape Architecture Studios; and Youth Education Supervisor Bernadette Whitworth.

Three new features were added to this year’s gardening conference: Check out a cooking demonstration presented by Chef Gabe Gardner of the Culinary Arts Department at Sinclair. Sign up in advance for this class. You could also opt for some one-on-one time with the keynote speakers. The Coffee with the Keynotes question-and-answer session allows you to meet our fabulous speakers and learn from their vast store of plant and gardening knowledge. Finally, be sure to take a peek at the Practical Garden Demonstrations taking place during the lunch hour and the afternoon break. Experts will be on hand to demonstrate worm bins, structural pruning, organic rose care, rain barrels, rain gardens, dynamite containers, backyard habitat, and cell phone apps for gardening. You can even register to win an iPod Touch loaded with helpful gardening apps.

Get the most out of your garden this year by signing up for the 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference. The cost of this day-long program is $50 or $25 for full-time students now through Feb. 18. This covers breakfast, lunch, snacks, hand-outs and other printed materials, parking, and all the information and networking opportunities throughout the day. The fee, after this early-bird special up to the day of the event, increases to $60, so register now.

Get the complete schedule, including session topics, available programs and the full line-up of speakers and featured experts at Log on to register and secure your spot for this year’s event. For more information, or for alternative registration accommodations, please call Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark at (937) 277-6545.

Remember, whether you’re a seasoned gardening veteran or a novice who has trouble keeping even a cactus alive, there’s an opportunity waiting for you to enhance your skills and make your beds their best ever.

The 16th Annual Miami Valley Gardening Conference is Saturday, March 5 from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Sinclair Community College Ponitz Center. Please call (937) 277-6545 or visit for more information.

Reach DCP freelance writer Valerie Beerbower at

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