Notes from the 2017 Spring Master Gardener Conference

The Master Gardeners of West Pottawattamie County, in partnership with ISU Extension, hosted their Spring Garden Conference on Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Council Bluffs, IA. It was my first time attending so I was excited to volunteer at the event and see what I could learn as well. As a Master Gardener Intern, I am working to collect a minimum of 40 hours of volunteering in our community this year.

We had an opening session for all attendees titled Earthy Treasures with our keynote speaker Jan Riggenbach that kicked off the conference. Next, I took Vegetable Gardening 101 with Cynthia Haynes, The Magic of Vines with Jan Riggenbach, The Splendid Garden with Monica Wheeler and Herbs: Grow, Cook, Store and Share with Elain Fenner that completed my day at the conference.

Throughout the day our speakers had many recommendations for both old favorites and exciting new plants. I thought I would share a few of the recommendations on my blog for all of you as well.

Perennials
PRIMO Black Pearl coral bells (Heuchera villosa ‘Black Pearl’)
Totally Tangerine geum or avens (Geum ‘Tim’s Tangerine’)
Perennial pea (Lathyrus latifolius)
Sensation Deep Rose salvia

Annuals
Strawberry Blonde marigold (I just ordered and received these seeds from Burpee!)
South Pacific Scarlet canna (Canna ‘South Pacific Scarlet’)
Canova Rose canna (Canna ‘Canova Rose’)
Malabar spinach (Basella rubra)

Garden Shrubs
Sugar Shack® button bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis ‘SMCOSS’)
Lemony Lace® elderberry (Sambucus racemosa ‘SMNSRD4’)

These are just a few plants that jumped out at me throughout the day. In the cooking class, I thought this recipe from Elain Fenner sounded like a great way to use extra herbs from the garden:

Parsley and Chive Butter Log
In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbs of both finely minced Italian parsley and chives. Using a wooden spoon, cream together with two sticks, unsalted butter at room temperature. Add two tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 tsp. Dijon mustard. Firm in refrigerator for about 5 minutes then shape into a 1-2″ log. Wrap in parchment and store in refrigerator. Try other herbs like sweet basil, cilantro, dill, rosemary, tarragon, thyme along with other flavors like hot pepper sauce, lemon zest, capers, garlic or shallots.

Attend the 2018 Spring Garden Conference for more information! Or become a Master Gardener this fall – learn more here.

Also, don’t miss the Master Gardener Plant Sale on Saturday, May 13, 2017 from 8:00 am – 11:00 am at Iowa School for the Deaf Campus at 3501 Harry Langdon Blvd, Council Bluffs, IA.

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