Master Gardeners offer classes, answers at library

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published September 22, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated September 20, 2013 at 2:18 p.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Master Gardeners Anne Flueckiger, left, and Dee Offerman talk about insects often found in the garden.

HOT SPRINGS — Is it OK to trim that tree in the yard now, or should you wait for winter? Is there a flower or shrub in the yard that you like but have no idea what it is and how to care for it? Then go to the library.

The Garland County Master Gardeners have teamed up with the Garland County Library to offer a Gardening Expo on Thursday in the library’s auditorium to provide classes, answer questions and give some hands-on demonstrations.

“We’ll have at least 15 booths,” said Diane Daniel, co-chair of the Master Gardeners’ community education committee. “Working with the library has been so successful. The event is half the library’s brown-bag lunch series and half the Ask the Master Gardener booth at the [Historic Downtown] Farmers Market.”

Each week, Master Gardeners are at a booth at the farmers market in Hot Springs ready to answer questions.

“We have a lot of people retiring and moving to the area who ask what and how to grow things in Arkansas,” Daniel said.

Valerie Nuckels, the other

co-chair of the education committee, said the program started

three years ago with just a few demonstration tables.

“It just grew,” she said. “This time we will have information on growing orchids, handling bees, using irrigation, pruning and several other topics.”

In addition, the Garland County Cooperative Extension Service will have a booth at the expo with representatives to answer questions about their services.

The educational programs put on by the Master Gardeners in Garland County have become a permanent and important part of the organization’s activities.

“The committee has put on about eight to 10 free gardening programs each year for the past three years,” Daniel said. “The library loves us, and we love working with them.”

The feeling is mutual, said Cori Williams, a library clerk who handles the gardeners’ programs and and other community events at the library on Malvern Avenue.

“They can draw some impressive groups,” she said. “The last gardening program they had here was about good bugs for the garden, and the event had more than 30 people. They are easy to work with. They tell me what they need, and I try to make it happen.”

The Master Gardeners will offer a free plant to the first 50 people who attend the expo at the library.

The Master Gardeners’ next event will be their annual Fall Plant Sale at the Garland County Fairgrounds on U.S. 70. The event is part of the 45th annual Hot Springs Arts and Crafts Fair.

“The fall sale is a 2 1/2-day event,” said Dianne Hardin, a member of the Garland County Master Gardeners from Hot Springs Village. “The sale is at the Fairgrounds Arena and features trees, shrubs and flowers, all grown by the Master Gardeners.”

The organization sell plants twice a year. The last sale was the spring event held in April at the Hot Springs Historic Downtown Farmers Market.

Another project that is becoming a tradition with the Master Gardeners in Garland County is a Pioneer Days program.

“It was part of the pioneers program held by the county, but now we do this program ourselves,” Daniel said.

It is a program for young people that informs them about the methods of growing and preparing foods used long before modern kitchens and supermarkets existed.

“It’s very hands on, with the kids planting potatoes, making butter and grounding flour and coffee,” said Anne Flueckiger, a member of the education committee of the Master Gardeners. “We want to show that all the things the young people now find on a shelf came first from the ground.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or