Spring is just about eight weeks away now and gardeners are browsing seed catalogs and making plans for getting out and playing in the dirt. The Ohio State University Extension Master Gardener Program here in Clark County has members busy planning for their 2014 event calendar as well. According to President Becky Menozzi who lives right here in Mad River Township, there is much to be excited about.

Becky explained that seeds and plugs are beginning to arrive for the planting at the greenhouse the organization uses over on Mitchell Blvd. in Springfield. Steve Hawkins from National Trails Parks and Recreation has provided space in his two greenhouses for the gardeners to start their tiny plants. Menozzi explained that despite the cold temperatures and snow, they are busy everyday working at the greenhouse during the winter months. In the spring as the soil warms, the plants will be placed in the trial gardens at the Gateway Gardens located in the office park near the Clark County Fairgrounds.

On March 6th from 9:00 – 4:15 the Master Gardeners will be hosting their annual Perennial School. This year the venue has been changed to allow more garden enthusiasts to participate. The program has moved to the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center this year and can host 200 guests for the event. Last year the event had nearly sixty on the waiting list hoping for a seat. The cost is $60 which includes lunch and will feature a number of presentations. Chris Hansen, co-owner of Great Garden Plants an on-line company that “encourages consumers to purchase plants that fit their lifestyle” will be one of the keynote speakers this year. Hansen is a graduate of Iowa State and began his career in Horticulture at a large mail-order plant company in South Carolina. He later moved to Portland Oregon to work at the country’s “premier source of new perennial breeding” Terra Nova Nurseries. After ten years he partnered with Mary Walters to begin their own on-line company. The second keynote speaker at the Perennial School this year will be Richard Hawke, the Plant Evaluation Manager for the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Registration is still open for this event that is attended by Master Gardeners and home gardener enthusiasts from across the state.

In April the Master Gardeners will again be hosting their Garden Fling on April 5th. Menozzi explained that this is a day filled with interesting mini classes and opportunities to do a little shopping. The event will be held at Kenton Ridge High School and will feature not only garden art vendors, but businesses who sell products such as lotion and soaps made from garden items. Bonnie’s Nursery and Crown Market will also be on hand to sell some of their favorite plants for your home landscape.

The final event for this spring will be the very popular Perennial / Barn Sale. This event has grown over the past couple of years and often has a line of eager gardeners waiting to get in. The Master Gardeners are working at the greenhouse Menozzi said to start some plants for this sale as well. The sale will take place at the Gateway Gardens again this year on Saturday, May 3rd. Shoppers will find a variety of plants to add to their home garden and can also find some bargains in the barn on gardening tools and décor donated by the group for the sale.

Becky explained that starting the first week of February, a new group of “interns” will be taking the first of their 50 hours of required course work to become a Master Gardener. There are around twenty new volunteers planning to attend and have promised to donate fifty hours of service in order to accomplish their goal of gaining the title Master Gardener.

Anyone needing assistance with questions on their yard or flower/vegetable garden, can contact the Helpline beginning in April at 521-3877. Volunteers are available to help solve problems and answer questions from 9 am – 12 on Monday and Thursday through the month of October.

For more information on the Master Gardener program or any of the upcoming events, visit their web site at http://clark.osu.edu/topics/horticulture/master-gardener-program-information. You can also find them on Facebook.