By Errol Castens
NEW ALBANY – The New Albany Home and Garden Show opened Friday with hundreds of visitors, scores of vendors and some two dozen slated workshops and lectures.
The free event continues today from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Union County Fairgrounds. On the schedule are presentations on garden-related wildlife, favorite ornamentals, roses, hostas, conifers, bees, flower farming, weeds, sweet potatoes, homemade wine, composting and square-foot gardening, plants of the Bible, “fairy gardening” and “superfoods.”
“This is all about education and having fun,” said Timothy Burress, one of the Union County Master Gardeners who organize the program in conjunction with Mississippi State University Extension Service personnel. “To borrow a line from ‘Star Trek,’ ‘The prime directive of a Master Gardener is to educate others.’”
A Friday highlight was a luncheon presentation by New Albany floral designer Diane Tate and Hattiesburg designer and author Catherine Hansen Strange.
Tate pooh-poohed reluctance to spend money on flowers “that will just die.”
“Flowers, like food, serve their purpose for a time,” she said. “When something fades, replace it.”
Tate showed a vibrant bouquet of daffodils.
“The most important thing you can do to cut flowers – from your yard, from Walmart or from your local florist – is change their water,” she said before revealing the daffodils had thrived for more than two weeks in a cooler with daily water changes.
Strange, co-author of “Fearless Entertaining” series, created dozens of arrangements during her talk, pairing distinctive containers with coffee beans, stones, marbles, vegetables and even dog bones to hold flowers.
“You’re just using common things in unusual ways,” Strange said. “One idea leads to another.”
Vendors offer a garden- and home-related wares from power equipment, fountains, planters and kitchen knives to birdhouses, furniture, homemade soaps and yard art.
Virginia Mooneyham of Southaven had bought jams and a milkweed plant early Friday afternoon, along with a book, “Yard & Garden Projects.”
“This has lots of things for my husband to do,” she said, getting a nod of agreement from Buddy Mooneyham.
Charlie Griffin of Ethelsville, Ala., sells rustic furniture at the event.
“They have a lot of good ideas at this show,” he said. “I like seeing what other people are doing.”
Burress invited any gardener to visit the event today.
“There’s a charm to this little garden show,” he said. “Every corner you turn, you never know what new thing you’re going to discover.”