Green dreams awaken at the River Valley Lawn & Garden Show
Green dreams awaken
at the 2017 River Valley Lawn &?Garden Show
Trigger warning: the River Valley Master Gardeners have every intention of tempting you to “Go Wild Gardening.” Gardeners’ eyes will widen and heartrates increase when entering the indoor Eden the expo’s vendors and exhibitors create inside the Fort Smith Convention Center. Three-day gardening extravaganza that happens each year to open the green season.
Education is one of the missions of the Master Gardener program, a community organization under the wing of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Throughout the show, guest experts and local Master Gardeners will give free lectures and demonstrations. Stop by the Master Gardeners table for friendly garden advice and with questions. They’re here to help!
The convention floor itself sprouts astonishing living gardens and water features surrounded by living trees, shrubbery, grass and beautiful blooming flowers. Enormous display gardens, some with pools and running waterfalls, are created by local landscapers.
Vendor booths offer living plants and flowers from orchids to vegetable garden starts. There are every variety of artful garden ornaments, innovative lawn and garden tools, outdoor furniture and storage buildings, gazebos and trellis structures, herbal products and fresh honey and preserves.
A silent auction area displays items to be taken home by the highest bidders.
The show also features the Fort Smith Council of Garden Clubs' annual flower design show and horticulture judging as well as the Fort Smith Art Center Photo Alliance's photography contest and display of photography competition entries.
Children can find a variety of fun garden-themed activities such as make-and-take crafts.
Proceeds from the Lawn & Garden Show help to support the many projects of the Master Gardeners. The group maintains demonstration gardens at The Learning Fields at Chaffee Crossing, where it also holds classes and activities for the public.
Master Gardeners collectively log thousands of hours of service in tending to the landscape and flower gardens at the Convention Center, a meditation garden at Sparks Regional Medical Center, in city parks, at Miss Laura’s Visitor Center, the Clayton House and more, beautifying Fort Smith.
The Master Gardeners practice environmentally-friendly gardening to encourage the health of honeybees and other pollinators, increase food garden yields and to improve soil and conserve water. All of their knowledge is shared with the public through its educational programs.
Admission is $5, good for all three days. Children 11 and under are free. 10-a.m.-6 p.m. March 17-18; ;10 a.m.-5 p.m. March. 19.
Lawn & Garden Speaker and Demonstration Schedule
March 17 - 10 a.m.
Rhubarb Roots, Red Onions, Pine Resins: Ozark Plant Lore
Susan Young of the Shiloh Museum talks of entertaining Arkansas garden lore.
March 17 - 11 a.m.
Short Demo Rose Pruning by Thell Halstead
March 17- 11:30 a.m.
A Bird Friendly Yard
Learn how to attract and provide habitat for beautful birds with speaker Ann Gordon.
March 17- 12:30 p.m.
Short Demo Newspapers into Containers by Hilda Ross
March 17 - 1 p.m.
Tina Marie Wilcox tends to and teaches at the Ozark Folk Center heritage herb gardens. Know the beauty, culinary and medicinal value of herbs.
March 17 - 2 p.m.
Short Demo Care of Garden Tools by Earle Maxwell
March 17 - 2:30 p.m.
Trees for Pollinators
It’s not only flowers that feed bees, butterflies and other valued pollinators. Jerry McGary identifies helpful trees.
March 17 - 4 p.m.
Frogs and Garden Ponds
Frog Watch USA is a group of citizen scientists who learn to identify the sound of frog calls in order to collect and report data on the health of the state’s frog population. Tom Krohn of Yellville, Ark. coordinates Arkansas Frog Watch. Learn how to identify the amphibious frogs who may be residents on your property and why they’re beneficial.
Recognize Arkansas Snakes
Herps enthusiasts - yes they like snakes -Brad Birchfield and Jeremy Sloan reduce fear by teaching how to identify and observe snakes.
March 18 - 11 a.m. Short Demo Flower Arranging by Tate’s Flower & Gift
March 18 - 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Refresh, Remix, Restyle with Chris H. Olsen
Chris H. Olsen is a nationally known home and garden guru, designer, author, TV personality and landscape designer. Learn ideas to renew your home gardens landscape cleverly.
March 18 - 1:30 p.m. Short Demo Cleaning Gourds by Mary Watts
March 18 - 2 p.m.
Native Plants with Janet Carson
Distinguished garden writer and expert Janet Carson is the authority on what grows here.
March 18 - 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.
Fig Trials at The Learning Fields
Master Gardeners Susan Randolph and Charlie Little talk about fig varieties.
March 18 - 5 p.m.
Betty Harrison shows how to combine three simple, cheap ingredients to make garden planters or create unique garden sculpture.
10 a.m. Square Foot Gardening
Learn from Michael Richardson about the method and benefit of intensive gardening by the square foot.
March 19 - 11:30
Susan Belsinger points out edible weeds and greens that are in season! Belsinger shows what she might forage from the wilds of Fort Smith and wild edibles she harvests from her gardens, backyard and woods. Using both wild and seasonal greens, she will talk while she prepares a Wild Greens Salsa Verde for tasting.
March 19 - 12:30 p.m. Short Demo
Lemon Trees from Seed with Susan Horton
March 19 - 1 p.m.
Straw Bale Gardening
Leslie Wagner discusses this easy, space-saving, no-dig gardening technique.
March 19 - 2 p.m. Short Demo Propagating Succulents
by Susan Randolph
March 19 - 2:30 p.m.
How to Raise a Wild Child
Joyce Mendenhall and Gail Pianalto talk about getting kids into gardening.
March 19 - 4 p.m.
Butterflies of West Central Arkansas
Leta Caplinger will give a talk on identifying the butterflies that visit your garden as caterpillars or winged beauties.Learn how to recognize and how to attract these beautiful, pollinating guests with plants that nourish them and provide breeding opportunities.
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine