Growing Concerns: Whidbey Gardening Workshop lines up even more classes

A highly contagious, fast-spreading disease has overtaken Island County. No one except infants under 18 months is safe from this mysterious malaise. Symptoms include giddiness, obsessive smiling, and irrational behavior, such as hoarding seed catalogs, mucking through muddy gardens in the rain, and impulse-buying primroses at the supermarket.

Yes, it’s Spring Fever, and the best way to catch it is to attend the 2006 Whidbey Gardening Workshop, set for Saturday, March 11 from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. at Coupeville Middle School. Presented by the Washington State University Master Gardeners of Island County, it’s a day dedicated to the specifics of gardening in the Pacific Northwest.

“Botany, Fate, and the Lewis and Clark Plant Collection” is this year’s keynote address. Tonie Fitzgerald, author and WSU Extension Educator, will discuss the now-famous journey and its impact on botanical studies. Not only were Lewis and Clark charged with finding a water route to the Pacific, but President Thomas Jefferson specifically requested that they make keen observation of the plants and animals encountered on their trek. What became of their diligently collected specimens, writings and drawings?

Tonie Fitzgerald is the author of “Gardening in the Inland Northwest,” and has written for magazines, newspapers, and numerous WSU Extension publications.

In addition to her talk, Fitzgerald will teach a class entitled “Solving Tree Crimes: CSI meets IPM.” It’s one of 47 gardening classes taught by subject matter experts from which participants may choose.

During lunch, class breaks, and after classes, you’re invited to peruse educational displays and shop vendor booths selling plants, books, and unique garden items. The Whidbey Chapter, American Rhododendron Society, will offer an intriguing selection of rhodies, along with free, expert advice on how to care for them. The vendor section of the workshop will be open to the public all day, free of charge.

The Whidbey Gardening Workshop is always a popular event, so sign up ASAP for the best class selection. The cost is $25 for advance registration, $30 at the door, if space is available. Call 360-240-5527 to register or obtain additional information. Register on line at A list of classes being offered follows:

10:30-11:45 a.m.

Amazing Japanese Maples; Biopollution: Threats and Economic Impacts; Choosing a Greenhouse; Container Magic; Drought Tolerant Plants: Texture and Beauty Year Round; Fuchsias in the Garden: Beyond the Baskets; Growing Wine Grapes in Maritime Western Washington; Hardscaping Solutions to Landscaping Problems; Identifying and Using Native Plants in Your Landscape; Landscaping and Loving Lavender; Rhododendrons; Roses; Solving Tree Crimes: CSI Meets IPM; The Butterfly-Hummingbird Garden; Why Bats Are Important to Gardeners; You’ll Like Peonies, Deer Don’t.

1:15-2:30 p.m.

Bamboo in the Landscape; Beneficial Organisms: Terrifying Tales of Whidbey Island Backyards; Bonsai – The Art of Living Sculpture; Fabulous Fuchsia Baskets and Containers; Food Waste and Worm Bin Composting – The Perfect Combination; Growing in a Greenhouse; Landscaping for Wildlife; Life Beyond Rhodies; Not Tonight, Deer! Giving Deer the Cold Shoulder; Ornamental Grassses and Companion Planting for your Garden; Perennials and Annuals: Creating a Garden with Year-Round Interest; Plant Propagation; Sick Tree, Sick Dirt; Small Fruits; Using Lavender for Fun and Health; Vegetable Gardening in the Northwest.

2:45-4 p.m.

Art in the Garden; Birds and Butterflies of the Garden; Companion Planting for Rhododendrons; Everlasting Leaves – Whimsical Garden Art; Gardening with Children; Growing Giant Pumpkins and Other Vegetables; Growing Hardy Water Lilies on Whidbey Island; Introduction to Fruit Tree Grafting; More than Moss and Mahonia: Woodland Gardening in the Pacific Northwest; Organic Fertilizers and Soil Amendments for Your Garden; Organic Vegetable Growing; Shrub Pruning; Slugs: From Slime to the Sublime; Turfgrass; Yard Waste Composting – Basics, Bins and Uses.

Complete class descriptions are available at the WSU Extension website listed above, or by requesting a brochure from the WSU Extension Office, 240-5527.

Mariana Graham is an Island County-WSU Master Gardener. Contact her at She will teach Woodland Gardening at the workshop.

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