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2009 International Master Gardener Conference, March 22-25

Posted 2/26/2009

Green thumbs from around the world will converge on Las Vegas in March for the International Master Gardeners Conference at the Alexis Park Resort Hotel from March 22-25.

The event is sponsored by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and coordinated by Southern Nevada Master Gardeners, who have planned a four-day program that celebrates not only the brilliant neon of the Las Vegas Valley but also the bright and lush gardens they have nurtured from unforgiving soils Mojave Desert.

"We are eager to share tips on how to have a beautiful, water-wise landscape — even if you get more that the four inches of rain that we get here in Las Vegas," conference coordinator Ann Edmunds said. The event is open to the general public as well as certified master gardeners.

Master gardeners are volunteers educated at land grant universities around the U.S. In Nevada, these gardeners take at least 50 hours of instruction in advanced plant science from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and then volunteer at least 50 hours a year to passing along their knowledge to the general public.

In 2005, there were an estimated 80,000 certified Master Gardeners in the U.S. who had contributed 3.4 million hours of volunteer service.

In addition to garden tours and pre- and post-conference tours of the Hoover Dam, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, the conference features seminars on such topics as pollinators, honey bees and colony collapse disorder; replacing turf with meadow plants; how to nurture young trees; and a ’show-and-tell’ session on integrated pest management that will feature a guest appearance by environmental horticulturalist ML Robinson’s 6-inch Black Emperor scorpion.

A number of sessions will focus on the wise use of water. Presenter Brad Lancaster, the author of the award-winning "Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands, Volume 1: Guiding Principles to Welcome Rain Into Your Life" will discuss the eight principles of water harvesting and using greywater to nourish your soils and reduce water consumption. Landscape architect Jack Zunino will discuss the evolution of water-efficient landscapes.

The keynote speaker is Jeff Lowenfels, whose 32-year-old column in the Anchorage Daily News is the longest-running garden column in the United States. Lowenfels, a former editor of the Harvard Lampoon and an entertaining speaker, is the founder of "Plant A Row for The Hungry" program, which has resulted in gardeners growing and donating enough food to provide 20 million meals to feed the hungry.

His book, "Teaming with Microbes, A Gardener’s Guide to The Soil Food Web" (Timber Press), is considered the most important gardening book written in the past 25 years.

Conferees can also enjoy the "Paint a Memory" workshop, garden tours at private residences and the "Fit for Gardening" health fair, which will include an afternoon of fitness classes, health screenings and exhibitions.

What: The International Master Gardener Conference
Where: The Alexis Park Resort Hotel, Las Vegas
When: March 22-25
Details: Ann Edmunds, (702) 257-5587 or edmundsa@unce.unr.edu or the Master Gardener Help Line at (888) 891-9662 (toll-free) or (702) 257-5555.
On the Web: www.unce.unr.edu/imgc

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