Garden Tips: Garden Day a cure for spring fever

Marianne C. Ophardt, WSU Benton County ExtensionFebruary 20, 2014 

After a long and dreary winter, WSU Extension's Spring Garden Day, planned March 8, offers a cure for local gardeners with spring fever. This daylong educational gardening program will kick off with two terrific presentations.

David James will start Spring Garden Day with his presentation on butterflies. At the young age of 8, James was a budding entomologist who was fascinated by butterflies and began rearing them at his English home. After studying zoology in college, he migrated to Australia, where he did his graduate research on the winter biology of Monarch butterflies.

James came to Washington State University in 1999 and is stationed at the WSU Prosser Research Station, where he is researching biological control of insect and mite pests in vineyards and other irrigated crops. He also directs the WSU "Vineyard Beauty with Benefits" project that involves using native plants to both beautify and attract beneficial insects to commercial vineyards.

As busy as that keeps him, he still finds time to study butterflies, including his favorite, the Monarch butterfly. He recently coauthored a beautifully illustrated book on the caterpillars of Northwest butterflies titled Life Histories of Cascadia Butterflies. James has been quoted as saying that " a world without butterflies would be a very sad place." His presentation will include butterfly biology as well as how to protect and encourage butterflies.

Steve Sheppard, chairman of the Entomology Department at WSU in Pullman, will give the second presentation about honeybees. Sheppard's bee story also begins as a young boy with a great-grandfather who had more than a hundred hives along the Savannah River in the southeast. However, Sheppard didn't become a beekeeper until after taking a beekeeping class in college. After that, he went on to study bee genetics in graduate school.

Sheppard is also head of the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory at WSU. They focus on honeybee colony health in the Northwest. Pesticides are just one of the things that threaten honeybee populations across the country. At Spring Garden Day, Sheppard will talk about the fascinating honeybee and how gardeners can protect this valuable pollinating resource.

The presentations will be followed by a variety of classes for backyard gardeners. Presented by gardeners and other local experts, the scheduled classes are Raised Beds and Container Gardening, Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden, Gardening in Miniature, Managing Fruit Tree Insect Pests, Backyard Greenhouses, Growing Perennial Flowers, Basic Rose Care and Tools to Make Gardening Easier.

The cost of the program is $20 per person if you pre-register or $25 at the door. More information and a registration brochure can be found on the Benton Franklin WSU Master Gardener Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wsumastergardeners. You can also call 735-3551 for information and a registration brochure.

Spring Garden Day

What: A daylong gardening workshop

When: March 8 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: The Gallery, Bethel Church, 600 Shockley Road, Richland

Cost: $20 per person in advance, $25 at the door

Registration: Get form at www.facebook.com/wsumastergardeners. Or call 735-3551.

-- Marianne C. Ophardt is a horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

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