I spent most of this week at the Mid-Atlantic Horticulture Short Course, just as I have done each winter for nearly two decades. I helped out a little more this time, but thankfully did not have to teach any classes, though I was an emergency back-up speaker (the attendees should thank God the flu epidemic has quieted down, and my services were not needed). The event is a great chance for people who work in all aspects of horticulture to get together in one place for networking, comparing notes, stealing ideas, and especially for continuing their education. Although I did spend time with my new co-workers, I was able to catch up with people I knew from my last job, the job before that, the job before that one and remarkably enough with people I knew in my former life in the hotel business. It was kind of surreal for me, though maybe at my age it is just inevitable that I know a lot of people.
Each year there are many classes offered, making choices difficult. These are a few that I enjoyed:
Momijii Madness - Brian Upchurch, Owner of Highland Creek Nursery
I never tire of learning something new about Japanese maples.
Rain Gardens Done Right - Helen Kraus, Asst. Professor, North Carolina State University
I did not expect to enjoy this class to the extent that I did.
Secret Life of Plants - Buddy Lee, Director of Plant Innovations, PDSI
This class was taught by the creator of the Encore azalea, and offered insight into the process that leads to new plants.
All America Selections - Diane Blazek, AAS, National Garden Bureau
This class was more fascinating than you might think possible, and I now know how a plant becomes an All America Selection.
Gardens of the Gods - Ellen Zachos, Garden Designer, Owner, Acme Plant Stuff
If you ever get a chance to here Ms. Zachos speak, take it, no matter the topic. In this case she was speaking on the mythological history of 15 common plants.
Stylish Shade Gardening - Richard and Judith Tyler, Owners Pink Knot Farms
Though they are best known for their knowledge of hellebores, they also know a thing or two about gardening in the shade. I have heard them speak on several occasions, and they always do it together, taking turns. After hearing several well-north-of-here speakers, Mrs. Tyler's mellow southside Virginia voice was welcome music.
The Art of Growing Food - Ellen Ecker Ogden, Author, The Complete Kitchen Garden
As most of you already know, kitchen gardens can be as beautiful as any other landscape.
Design Tricks from a West Coast Wizard - Billy Goodnick, Landscape Architect
Another dynamic speaker, no matter the topic, and no stranger to the blogging public.
Perhaps the ultimate highlight of the week was being able to meet Thunder the Wonder Beagle. TWB is a Federal Agent, and has been trained to sniff out Asian Long Horned Beetles, plus he is quite the gentlemen. With his brains, handsome profile and good manners, I should fix him up with my Penny.