By LEIGH C. MERRIFIELD
News & Journal Editor

Whether you’re looking to plant some fresh herbs or needing to add a burst of color to your porch or patio, there will be plenty to choose from at next Saturday’s Master Gardeners Spring Clinic and Garden Fair.
As you can see from this photo from a previous Spring Clinic, there are more than greenhouse items to purchase.  These ladies enjoy looking a handmade jewelry.

The transition from winter to spring is always exciting!

It’s more than the welcomed, warming temperatures and lengthier hours of daylight; it’s also about witnessing the greening of our landscape and the opportunity to dig in the dirt a little – whether it is planting a vegetable garden or adding pops of floral color to make an outdoor area more inviting and uplifting.  If you are looking for help with either gardening issues or selecting the right bedding plants, shrubbery or trees for your home, look forward to finding answers and a variety of choices at the Harrison County Master Gardeners Spring Clinic next weekend!

This will be the Master Gardeners 18th Annual Spring Clinic and Garden Fair, and it will be held once again this year at the Harrison County 4-H Center & Recreation Complex, located on Rt. 19 South in Clarksburg.  The facility is large enough to hold the many vendors and workshops that are planned for this one-day event on Saturday, May 13th … and there is plenty of parking.  Another great perk is that the family-friendly event is admission free with lots to look at and perhaps purchase – including flea market items where you might find books, tools, garden-related objects and other odds and ends.

According to Carla Kesling, vice-chair of the event, they will be hosting at least ten workshops this year that will feature tips on bees, herbal teas, vegetables, low tunnel gardening, plant botany, canning and preserving, fruit trees, Tai Chi for gardeners, and the West Virginia Raptor Rehabilitation Center will be on hand as well – to name a few.

“These workshops are all free as well,” she stated.  “And our list of vendors this year is quite extensive!  We will have a little bit of everything … for example, some of our vendors will be selling plants (green plants, vegetable plants, bedding plants, hanging baskets, etc.) trees, and shrubs, bees, honey, jewelry with flowers, herbs, wind chimes, outdoor furniture, craft items, garden flags, wreaths, garden gloves, and something quite unique and truly beautiful are bowls and bags that are made from clothesline and fabric.  There will also be an informational table on pollinators. Vendors are still registering, but we have more than 20 that have already confirmed.”

Event chairperson Becky Chong continued, “It will be a great day for learning!  Look for the booth titled ‘Ask a Master Gardener’, and bring your questions; Master Gardeners will do their best to answer them, and if they don’t have an answer, they will find it and get back to you.  Or if you need something identified, we encourage attendees to being a plant or a leaf or bloom from a plant to help them identify it.”

The WVU Extension Service’s Master Gardener Program consists of volunteers who receive training in the science and art of gardening.  Then they are urged to pass on the information they have learned to help educate the public.

“People get involved with the Master Gardeners program for many reasons: some for landscaping purposes; and for many with today’s emphasis on engaging in healthier eating habits and avoiding processed foods, their reason for involvement is to learn how to grow their own food,” Chong added.

The Harrison County Chapter of WVU Extension Master Gardeners does a lot to share their learning.  According to Chong, they have become involved with the Community Garden on Monticello Avenue in Clarksburg; they have assisted with the Shinnston Community Garden and the Heritage Gardens at Fort New Salem; they have even installed two gardens at the Genesis Youth Center which the youth there care for under the tutelage of Master Gardeners.  In addition, they have initiated a project that makes seeds available through many of the local libraries.

While many of the Spring Clinic’s displays are indoors at the Recreation Center, there are still other, larger ones located outdoors around the perimeter of the facility.

“With displays and booth both inside and outside, it is hard for us to get an accurate head count on attendees, but we’re sure that there were at least 200 visitors last year. We are hoping for even greater attendance this year,” Chong said.  “We enjoy and need the public’s support at this annual event because this, too, is another way that we are able to share what we have learned and pay it forward by lending help to them.”

Next Saturday’s event hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  And don’t forget that it’s the day before Mother’s Day so it might be a nice treat for mom.  Take her and let her pick out what she wants!  And take the kids too … they might enjoy the painting with vegetables activity that is planned.  YES, that’s right; kids will paint using vegetables instead of brushes!  Sounds like a unique idea that kids will love, doesn’t it?

Remember that there will be all sorts of prizes drawn all day long.  Raffle tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.  Organizers say they have accumulated a wonderful array of raffle items donated by local businesses – everything from bird feeders to tools to gift cards to Vera Bradley items … and much more!  (Must be present to claim your prize.)

Plan to have lunch as you shop and learn!  A concession area will be available with hot dogs, several side dishes, drinks and baked goods.   Sounds like a great way to spend a Spring Saturday!

Any vendors who might be interested and have not as yet signed up to participate may contact Carla Kesling at 304-522-5982.