Just finished up with the annual Extension Master Gardener's conference here in Manhattan the last couple of days, and a rousing time of camaraderie was had by all!
The conference here was kicked off by a great keynote speech by David Salman, the President and Chief Horticulturist of High Country Gardens. David's opener was an interesting discussion of the principles of xeriscape gardening, with many illustrations of plants that will grow in Manhattan. It was really great to hear from a gardener who sees less rainfall than we do here in Manhattan, and one so dedicated to preserving our water resources and helping us design beautiful landscaping. David's nursery has a blog as well, appropriately titled The Xeric Gardener.
I went to several talks, but my personal "education time" this year was cut short because I gave two talks myself. I did one presentation about the process of writing a book and blog, in concert with Local Extension Agent Gregg Eyestone, who writes a weekly newspaper column and contributes to Riley County Extension's blog. I did another talk on growing Hardy Roses in Kansas, and then repeated it the next hour in a second slot since it had been a couple of years since a rose topic had been on the agenda. Had a great time and some good give and take in all those sessions, and I also enjoyed talking with other Kansas blogging friends such as GaiaGardener.
I've got enough canned talks now on roses and other topics that I'm thinking of sacrificing one of the separate pages of this blog to put up the PDF's of those talks for others to view. What do you think? Good idea or not interesting?
As far as the talks I attended for personal gain, I learned why I haven't been doing well with raspberries (DON'T GROW HERITAGE IN KANSAS), I learned about the basics of tissue culturing from a retired engineer whose home propagation setup is good enough to be a Homeland Security nightmare, and I learned a bit more about the theory of color and design in the landscape.
Along those lines, for those readers who are not Extension Master Gardener's, consider this a plug for joining and contributing to your local groups, wherever they may be across the nation. Yes, you have to put in a little community service along the way, but that time is well paid back by the network of local gardeners you engage. Where else do you get the opportunity to spend two days playing hookey from our day jobs and pretend you have entered the wonderful world of full-time gardening for pleasure?