Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

Rite of Spring: River Valley Lawn & Garden Show

Rite of Spring: River Valley Lawn & Garden Show
For three days each spring, gardeners can express all their pent-up anticipation at the River Valley Lawn &?Garden Show, presented by the area’s most enthusiastic horticulturists – the Master Gardeners. Since 1995, the River Valley Master Gardeners, a division of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, has put on this comprehensive garden exposition with educational demonstrations, lectures and numerous vendor booths.

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The Master Gardeners have invited an interesting slate of speakers and experts who will give demonstrations all related to planting and tending flower or food gardens, including fun new growing techniques. In a pop-up lecture hall created to one side of the massive Fort Smith Convention Center, these programs are always well attended. Most of the experts are willing to stick around and answer questions.

While grown-ups may be choosing new varieties of daylilies or checking out high-quality garden tools, children can have a wonderful time with free crafts and activities related to growing things.

Everyone can enjoy the amazing variety of garden and outdoor-related products, even if only via browsing the many booths. There will be eye-catching garden ornaments, both of the beautiful and artfully whimsical varieties. Birders can enjoy shopping for bird-feeders and bat-houses. There are garden flags and plant markers, fencing, watering cans and irrigation systems. Vendors of landscape water features, swimming pools, and hot tubs and rain barrels have exhibited. Garden tools to wield by hand and powered equipment such as mowers are on display.

The star show-stoppers are the living gardens with live flowers, sod and trees that are designed and assembled overnight just for the show. Local nurseries and landscapers outdo themselves each year with flowing waterfalls, stone-ringed ponds and blooming flowers “planted” into spectacular displays. Prizes, including a People’s Choice Award, are given to these live landscapes.

Sunrooms, gazebos, playhouses and storage buildings are erected inside the convention center by the local companies who build them. Handmade botanical products offered, such as soaps, skin care items and home fragrance or organic cleaners, all start from green origins. In past years, wineries have been present to show off the fruit of the vine.

Outstanding living plants, from vegetable starts and herbs to exotic orchids and cacti may be for sale. Trees, shrubs, bedding plants and plants in pots for the porch or patio sprout from every direction from one end of the great hall to the other.

The Extension Service, backed by the UA School of Agriculture, is a deep repository for advice, instruction and diagnosis of potential disease or growing problems. Samples of troubled plants can be shown to the service’s experts for diagnosis and advice for solutions. Proceeds of the show help sustain the education and public service provided by the Master Gardeners from The Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing, its ever-expanding horticultural demonstration facility. Fort Smith Convention Center, Rogers Avenue and South 9th Street, Fort Smith. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. each day. Admission is $5; kids under 12 are admitted free.

Speaker Schedule:

Friday, March 18
10:30 a.m. – Carol McKinney “Herbs”
12:30 p.m. – Betty Harrison “Making Hyper-Tufa Flower Planters”
2:30 p.m. – Clifford Ivy “Butterfly Host Plants”
4 p.m. – Cheryl Anderson “Grow Bucket Gardening”

Saturday, March 19
10:30 a.m. – Bill Schemel “Terrariums and Fairy Gardens”
1 p.m. – Janet Carson “Gardening 101, Getting Started on a Vegetable Garden”
3 p.m. – Jerri Johnston “Farmer’s Co-op” 4 p.m. – Sherrie Smith “Garden Diseases”

Sunday, March 20
10:30 a.m. – Cheryl Anderson “Grow Bucket Gardening”
12:30 p.m. – Lance Kirkpatrick “Managing Fire Ants”
2:30 p.m. – Dee Wilcox “Pruning a Crepe Myrtle”
4 p.m. – Ralph Cooper “Roses”

This article appears in the April 2016 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith magazine.

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Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online