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Check Out The Spring Garden Expo As Spring Approaches

By: Pamela A. Keene

Originally Posted By: Lakeside News

Regardless of the temperatures, this year the official arrival of spring is Tuesday, March 19, at 11:06 p.m. EDT. For most people, the first day of spring simply passes by, but for gardeners, it sets us on the path to the growing season, a time to plant vegetables and brighten up the landscape with colorful annuals.

Forsythia, also called “Yellow Bells” are among the first to bloom, as are the pepto-pink Okame cherries scattered across the landscape. Daffodils, crocus, scilla and grape hyacinths have peeped out among their greenery. There’s an explosion of color that will continue in waves throughout the spring and summer, and even into fall.

For gardeners, however, the true first “safe” date to plant is determined by the projected date of the last frost in the area. Here in North Georgia, south of the mountains, that date can be anywhere between March 28 and April 15.

By early to mid-March, many box retailers and local nurseries are already stocking flats of annuals, 6-packs of vegetable seedlings and plenty of spring-flowering trees and shrubs. 

Just a word of warning

If you’re planting tender vegetables, such as tomatoes, be prepared to shield them from a late frost that may damage foliage and buds. Purchase some frost cloth to spread over the plants on nights when the temperate is predicted to be in the mid-30s.

Because of the terrain, our area often experiences bigger swings in low temperatures than Atlanta meteorologists predict. Our microclimates can set back a well-intended gardener up until the middle of April, particularly when planting tender seedlings like begonias, impatiens and tomatoes.

But don’t let that stop you. Just keep an eye on the weather and perhaps keep them in a sheltered area – well-watered – for a few weeks before installing them in the garden or landscape.

This year’s Garden Expo

Each spring, the Hall County Master Gardeners hosts its Spring Garden Expo. Held at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center near I-985 Exit 20 on Calvary Church Road, the event brings together more than 40 North Georgia nurseries, plant specialists, garden artists and landscapers offering the best of their spring plants for two days. This year’s expo takes place on Friday and Saturday, April 5-6 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Native and Encore azaleas, daylilies, peonies, irises, dozens of types of perennials, plus camellias, flowering trees like dogwoods and cherries, evergreens and ornamentals fill the center’s arena. Choose from flats of annuals, vegetable and herb seedlings and unusual plants to grace your garden this season.

Gardening equipment and birding supplies, specialized potting and garden soil, organic soaps and garden art will also be on sale.

The organization hosts an “Ask a Master Gardener Booth” throughout the event; bring your gardening and growing questions for expert advice.

The organization also offers free speakers during mid-day on both Friday and Saturday. At press time, the speakers had not been announced, but new information continues to be added to the group’s website, Admission is $2 per person; pets, other than service animals, are not allowed.

For more information, call the Hall County UGA Extension office at 770 535-8293.

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