here is my post from last year). The first speaker was Jeff Lowenfels, author of the book Teaming With Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Food Web. As gardeners we all love beautiful flowers, stately trees, historic gardens and fresh fruits and vegetables. I know that all these things result from what happens under the soil line, and normally this is not the most interesting part of gardening to me. But before hearing Mr. Lowenfels speak, I never would have realized just how enthralled I could be hearing someone speak on soil science.
The second speaker, Chip Callaway was perhaps my favorite. Although I am not sure why, I have never previously heard of him nor his company, Callaway and Associates. This prolific North Carolina firm has designed nearly 1000 gardens, and one of their specialties is working on historic properties. Mr. Callaway took us through a small part of his portfolio, all the while injecting a serious degree of Southern humor delivered with a rich Carolina accent. My favorite property he showed us was Wharton Hall, which happens to be within walking distance of the house where my great-grandmother, Mammy Nock lived in Assawoman, Va. Even though the houses are very close, they are worlds away from each other. If you are interested, his web site is here, including a gallery of some of his projects.
Pam Baggett was the next speaker and she spoke about using tropical plants in temperate gardens. She was the owner of the sadly now defunct Singing Springs Nursery, which was a mail order nursery in North Carolina specializing in tropical plants. I still have a Euphorbia 'Sticks On Fire' that I got from Singing Springs years ago. Ms. Baggett was promoting her recent book Tropicalismo! and she had some luscious photography to show us. The bright colors and bold textures were welcome distractions on yet another cold day.
The last to speak on Thursday is one of the godfathers of television horticulture, Roger Swain. His topic was "Vegetables for Every Appetite" and I left ready to pull up my shrubs and perennials in favor for something more edible. We were a PBS family growing up and I remember him from The Victory Garden before it changed and changed and changed again. One thing that was not apparent watching the show was just how funny Roger Swain is. He has a great sense of humor, as well as a vast knowledge of all things horticultural.
The day ended with door prizes, some of which I contributed, or at least my company did. I really would like to commend the ladies from the Garden Clubs of Norfolk and Virginia Beach for once again sponsoring a great host of speakers, I don't know how they do it, but am glad they do. For me this event is always a sign that spring is here, and since my first Narcissus (pictured above) began opening the same day, it must be true.