By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
The Texas Master Gardener Conference 2015 “Trails to Rails – Blooms on the Old Chisholm Trail” will be held at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton, Texas and will be hosted by the Bell County Master Gardeners. This three day event will start April 16th and conclude on the 18th.
Texas Master Gardeners is a volunteer program designed to grow horticultural information throughout the state, county and town by town. Master Gardeners are local volunteers in your community who work with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service to increase the availability of horticultural information and improve your communities quality of life through various horticultural projects. There are more than 6,000 Master Gardeners in the state of Texas.
The 2015 conference will have more than 60 vendors and will have workshops, garden tours and seminars on all facets of gardening. Bell County Master Gardeners will conduct their annual “Spring Plant Sale” during the conference.
Admission to the expo hall is only $2, which will include a chance to see the vendors and exhibitors. There will be all kinds of gardening paraphernalia on display and for sale, as well as diverse vendors with exhibits on all kinds of gardening, including edible, ornamental and organic.
The vendor and exhibit hall will be open to the public Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A special exhibit this year will be a “Big Train,” which interest adults and children of all ages. A silent auction will take place to raise money for Texas Master Gardeners.
A pecan grafting seminar and demonstration will be held in the Master Gardener Class Building at the AgriLife Extension Office on Saturday at 9 a.m. The Seminar is free and no registration is necessary. There will be pecan graft wood available for sale. The classroom is located at 1605 N. Main St. Belton TX. Anyone interested in attending is welcome to attend.
A free discussion on Monarch butterflies will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. at the Bell County Expo Center.
Garden Tours will be conducted throughout Bell County to include Salado and Fort Hood and Bell County Master Gardeners’ own beautiful gardens. A “Trails to Rails” train ride will be conducted, taking participants from Temple to McGregor on an Amtrak train.
Speakers this year at the conference will include both nationally and state recognized leaders in the industry:
Greg Grant, a horticulturist, naturalist, garden writer, and plant developer from Arcadia
Charles Porter, a real estate, water rights, and construction expert
Janice and Clint Walker, who runs a farm that is now in its 80th year. They produce ten unique varietal honeys and they also produce several types of Mead from their honey.
Peter Hatch, a retired former director of Monticello’s gardens and grounds
Felder Rushing, a 10th-generation American gardener whose colonial and pioneer ancestors settled across the Southeast, bringing many plants with them
Mark Vorderbruggen, who spends his evenings and weekends guiding people back to nature’s bounty, teaching Texas people who want to learn about nature’s edible and medicinal plants
Francis Hutchins with “Bats Conservation International”
Saundra C. (Sandy) Winokur, who owns and operates one of the first commercial olive orchards in Texas
Art Davidson of Baker Creek Seed Co., who carries one of the largest selections of heirloom seeds from the 19th century
Online registration for the conference has ended, but walk-in registration will still be available, though the option of an included lunch is not guaranteed. More information can be found at http://txmg.org/2015tmgaconference
If you would like to get involved with Bell County Master Gardeners, they hold monthly meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at 11 a.m. at the Bell County Texas Agrilife Extension Classroom at 1605 N. Main St., Belton. A social gathering time before the meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. Monthly meetings include a business meeting followed by an educational session. These educational sessions qualify for one hour of continuing education for Master Gardeners. All Master Gardeners and the public are invited to attend.