Every gardener has experienced the magic of gardening, from the first sprouts pushing up from within a buried seed to the way everyday stresses and cares seem to vanish when we labor in our gardens. Jefferson County’s Master Gardeners asked me to invite you to join them at the 2012 Alabama Master Gardener Association (AMGA) Conference as we celebrate "The Magic of Gardening."
They are looking forward to welcoming fellow Master Gardeners (MG) and other gardening guests to "The Magic City" for the 22nd Annual Conference on March 22-24. Conference activities will be centered at the Birmingham Marriott, located on U.S. Highway 280, near plenty of shopping, restaurants and a variety of attractions.
Pre-conference activities begin just after noon on Thursday at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens with registration and roundtable discussions on several Master Gardener subjects. On Thursday afternoon, attendees will also have an opportunity for guided tours at either the Botanical Gardens or Aldridge Gardens, a public garden in nearby Hoover featuring 30 acres of hydrangeas and native plants. Return to the Botanical Gardens at 5:30 p.m. for a Welcome Reception and Barbecue Dinner with musical entertainment by the Sonny Harris Trio, made up of members of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
The official opening of the 2012 AMGA Conference will take place on Friday morning at the Birmingham Marriott. Complete your registration, enjoy a continental breakfast, shop a wide selection of vendors and place your bids on items in the silent auction. The Plenary Session begins at 9 a.m. with our keynote speaker Dr. John Floyd, renowned horticulturist and former vice president and editor-in-chief of Southern Living magazine, who will reveal "Ten Things That Might Shock You." Enjoy time with the many excellent vendors and then a delicious boxed lunch and a talk by Fred Spicer, Jr., executive director of Birmingham Botanical Gardens. A native of New Jersey, Spicer was transplanted to Birmingham in 2001 and now eagerly shares "Why the Heck I Stay in Alabama" with his fellow Alabama gardeners.
Take a break after lunch to visit with gardeners from all over Alabama while you peruse the vendors and exhibits. Breakout sessions will begin at 1:45 p.m. They have planned an interesting and diverse group of speakers for these sessions to show you tricks to create magic in your own garden. Early registration increases your chances of receiving your first choice of two of the following topics: Cottage Garden Design, Vermiculture, Native Plants—Spring Ephemerals, Incorporating Herbs and Vegetables in the Landscape, and Growing Great Tomatoes.
Mingle with fellow gardeners beginning at 5 p.m., followed by the Master Gardener Awards Banquet at 6 p.m. Enjoy a delicious dinner, then sit back and get ready to be entertained as our speaker, nationally-known storyteller and avid gardener Dolores Hydock, presents "Dishing the Dirt: Stories about Gardening."
Saturday morning starts with a continental breakfast. You’ll have plenty of time to visit the vendors for one more round of shopping before the Plenary Session begins with a preview of the 2013 Conference. The first speaker Robert "Buddy" Lee is familiar to many Southern gardeners as the creator of the Encore Azalea® and current Director of Plant Innovations at PDSI. The final speakers, Paulette Ogard and Sara Bright, have spent more than a decade traveling the Southeast studying and photographing butterflies. Their book, Butterflies of Alabama: Glimpses into Their Lives, provides a fascinating window into the lives of these extraordinary creatures.
Look for specific conference or registration details on the Alabama Master Gardener’s website at www.alabamamg.org and mark your calendars now to be part of this "magical" experience. I hope to see you there.
Tony A. Glover is a County Extension Coordinator in Cullman County.