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HOVMG plant sale — a growing success

Plants purchased at the Heart of Virginia Master Gardeners (HOVMG) annual plant sale come with expert advice. With that in mind it’s a good idea to come early to the Farmville Train Station during the Heart of Virginia Festival on Saturday, May 7, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

“Last year there was a line of people waiting to get in at 8 a.m.,” HOVMG Plant Sale Committee Chairperson Carrie Hall said. “As a matter of fact, we had to rope off the entrance and exit while we were setting up.”

The reason for the crowd at the annual plant sale, now in its 13th year, is simple.

“All of us working the plant sale are master gardeners,” Hall said. “We can answer the questions that anybody has.”

Master gardeners, in other words, know their plants.

The national Master Gardener program started in Washington State in 1972 and works in partnership with county Cooperative Extension offices. While master gardeners are volunteers, a full-time effort is required to complete Master Gardener training.

“Master gardeners must take a 50-hour course,” HOVMG President Liz Dunn said. “This is not your garden club class — there are exams that go along with it.”

Master gardeners are experts in a variety of garden-related topics, ranging from the proper use of pesticides to organic gardening. Master gardeners can tell you how to take a soil sample, till a garden or landscape a yard.

“We offer a Lunch & Learn series at the extension office in Farmville,” Hall said. “Attendance has been picking up every year. We cover organic gardening, too.”

Hall attributes that trend to an increase in home gardens.

To help the community get off to a good gardening start, the HOVMG plant sale offers vegetable and herb plants, perennials, annuals and houseplants.

“Vegetable and herb plants are very popular — we always sell out of those,” Hall said.

This year’s event at the train station will include three master gardener talks.

At 9 a.m. Jeanne Grunnert will cover “Accessible Gardening” including tips, techniques and tools for making gardening accessible for the elderly and physically disabled.

At 10 a.m. Tina Wells will provide techniques and discuss advantages of bare root planting for small and large trees and shrubs.

Cynthia Wood, who writes two garden-related columns for The Farmville Herald, will talk about daylilies, “a great plant for the home garden,” including photos at 11 a.m.

“Our web site, hovmg.org, includes a speakers bureau list,” Dunn said. “These speakers are members who have programming they’re willing to do.”

The hovmg.org site also fields garden questions and offers blogs on timely topics pertaining to gardening or landscaping.

“We don’t do things to make money other than the plant sale,” Dunn said. “And that is to raise funds for our programming.”

Over the past three years the Heart of Virginia Master Gardeners have provided $1,800 worth of books to public libraries in Cumberland, Buckingham and Prince Edward.

“We also give each library a Fauna of Virginia reference book, some children’s books and the Virginia Gardener magazine,” Dunn said.

Visitors to the Heart of Virginia Festival are invited to stop by the HOVMG plant sale. Included in the price of each plant purchased is an opportunity to help the community grow.