By Rebekah K. Bohannon Beeler
Lining the fencerow of the Plateau Discovery Gardens, scarecrows bore signs which read, “A gardener’s house may be a mess but wait until you see the gardens!”
This set the tone for the 5th annual Fall Gardeners’ Festival hosted by the Cumberland County Master Gardeners Association (CCMGA) and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture Aug. 27. The perfect weather, expert speakers, wagon tours, educational exhibits, vendors and high attendance made the Master Gardener’s event of the season a happy haven for gardeners, landscapers, nursery enthusiasts and culinary artisans.
Educational seminars were given on such subjects as weed control, landscaping, shade gardening, organic gardening, new and nearly new plant varieties, pest control, growing grapes, ornamental grasses and the chef’s relationship with the gardener. Wagon and walking tours of the gardens were given as well as a wagon tour of the greenhouses.
“We want to have people come out with fellow gardeners and leave inspired to have beautiful gardens and to be able to relax at home and be a part of nature,” said Nancy Christopherson, Master Gardener and co-chair of the event.
The purpose of the Fall Festival, as with all of the events in conjunction with UT AgResearch, is to educate and assist farmers and gardeners alike when dealing with the variables, strengths and challenges of growing on the Cumberland Plateau. The results of the data based on the research conducted at Plateau Discovery Gardens is tailored specifically for this region. It serves to educate producers on any level to be able to implement techniques to better the growing potential and healthiness of their food sources and plantings that beautify their homes. Everyone on the plateau, from clubs to schools and hobby gardeners to commercial growers, can and do benefit greatly from the invaluable progresses and discoveries at the center.
“The research serves the community by being able to test variables, eliminating what doesn’t work and implementing what does work,” said Ann Moore, research specialist at the UT Plateau AgResearch and Educational Center, regarding her research in the greenhouse with hydroponically grown vegetables. “The research results in saving our producers’ money, making the state richer.”
The Plateau Discovery Gardens was designated by Gov. Bill Haslam to join UT Knoxville and UT Jackson Gardens and become the third State Botanical Garden in April of this year. The gardens, off Hwy. 70 N, are open every day during daylight hours and may be visited without admission. Events are scheduled throughout the year and the CCMGA, a program of the UT Ag Extension, acts as an agricultural education liaison for the community.
The Master Gardeners Association’s monthly class for September will be winemaking gardening and will host Fay Wheeler of Stonehaus Winery Sept. 23. More information and directions can be found at www.ccmga.org, or contact the UT AgResearch Center at 484-0034.