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story.lead_photo.caption The Pope County Master Gardeners Plant Sale will feature an information table on beekeeping. Pattie Ward, left, raises bees at her apiary on Crow Mountain and will share information she has learned during the past three years as a beekeeper. Ward and Susan Colles show some of the items that will be on display. - Photo by Staci Vandagriff

RUSSELLVILLE — Patrons of the annual Pope County Master Gardeners Plant Sale may notice a few new things at this year’s event, set for 8 a.m. to noon May 4 at the Pope County Fairgrounds, 500 S. Knoxville St.

“We will have an ‘Ask a Master Gardener’ table and a beekeeping information table,” said Susan Colles of Russellville, Pope County Master Gardeners vice president in charge of publicity. “Master Gardeners will be available to answer questions on gardening. They will also have soil-sample boxes that people can take home, collect a sample of their soil and return it to the Pope County Cooperative Extension Service, where it will be processed for free.

“Pattie Ward, one of several Master Gardeners who also raise bees, will set up an information table on raising honeybees.”

Ward, who started her work as a Master Gardener 25 years ago in Pennsylvania, said she will display a beehive and products she has made from the honey she has processed from her apiary on Crow Mountain near Atkins.

“We will also offer a tasting of honey,” said Ward, who is in her third year of raising honeybees and has six working hives. “We will have information on pollinator plants, too, for both bees and butterflies.”

Lynda Horn of Russellville, plant sale chairwoman, said other new items at this year’s sale will include succulents; more vegetables, including eggplant, melon, okra and three kinds of squash; and six-packs of selected items, including vegetables and flowers.

“We want to offer as much variety as we can,” Horn said, adding that the sale will feature more annual bedding plants this year. “Our Master Gardeners will be bringing cuttings and plants from their own yards. I will have coreopsis and chicks from hens and chicks plants. I also make fairy gardens and will bring some of those.”

Sheila Walker of Dover, Pope County Master Gardeners president, said she will bring forsythia to the sale.

“I will also bring coleus plants that I grew from seeds,” Walker said. “I will also bring hydrangeas that I have propagated.”

Ward said she will contribute Mexican sage and naked ladies.

Horn said the Master Gardeners will have a variety of garden-related items for sale, as well as handmade cards featuring garden themes.

“We never know from year to year what will sell,” Horn said, smiling. “What sold well last year may not sell well this year, … so we try a few new things each year. We ask our customers what they would like to see more of each year and try to accommodate those requests.”

Colles said there is no admission charge to the plant sale.

“We will offer popcorn and water as refreshments … free of charge, too,” she said, adding that prices for the plants will be “reasonable.”

Walker said proceeds from the plant sale are used for Master Gardener programming and beautification projects throughout the area. Among the group’s projects are the gardens at Lake Dardanelle State Park, the gardens and pond at the Pope County Wellness and Senior Activity Center, the gardens at Washburn Park and the Garden of Hope, which is maintained in conjunction with the Pope County Juvenile Probation Office.

The Master Gardeners work at the Pope County Fair as well. They oversee the horticulture entries and serve as hosts for the education and horticulture buildings during the fair.

Proceeds from the sale also fund the group’s scholarships.

Other Pope County Master Gardener officers include Madelyn Ginsberg, vice president in charge of programs; Ramona Hodges, secretary; and Linda Russenberger, treasurer, all of Russellville.

Phil Sims, county extension agent and staff chairman of the Pope County Cooperative Extension Service, said Pope County Master Gardeners volunteered 1,994 hours in 2018, “working on the various community gardens and projects that they maintain.”

“Their impact on our community is immeasurable,” Sims said. “Not only are they beautifying the community, but they mentor youth as they work alongside them.”

More information on the Master Gardeners program and its plant sale is also available at the Pope County Cooperative Extension Service at (479) 968-7098.

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