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'Easy Gardens' co-author offers green thumb advice in free program


Jan Swoope



Every gardener dreams of an "easy" garden, especially in the hot, humid South, where coaxing perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs into their full glory is often a challenge.  


Horticulturist Harvey Cotten brings some of the how-to answers to area gardeners in a free program Thursday, Oct. 18, at First United Methodist Church's Artz Fellowship Hall at 602 College St. in Columbus. The 1 p.m. event is co-sponsored by a host of Columbus garden clubs and the Lowndes County Master Gardeners. 


Cotten is vice president and chief horticulturist of the 112-acre Huntsville Botanical Garden and co-author of "Easy Gardens for the South," a popular 316-page illustrated guide praised by beginners and experienced gardeners alike. 


Columbus Garden Club president Alice Lancaster is coordinating the event hosted by the Council of Columbus Garden Clubs, Columbus Rose Club, Four Seasons Garden Club, Galaxy Garden Club, Lattice 'n Lace Garden Club, Northhaven Garden Club, Town & Country Garden Club, Vine and Olive Garden Club and the Lowndes County Master Gardeners. 


"We really wanted to share this program with everyone. We wanted it to be free and for people to be able to invite guests; each club is helping us do that," said Lancaster. 




In the South 


Cotten, and co-authors Pamela Crawford and Barbara Pleasant, wrote "Easy Gardens" to help Southern gardeners select the best plants to create colorful, low-maintenance, drought-tolerant sustainable landscapes. 


"The old adage 'the right plant in the right place' speaks volumes," said Cotten, who will use a Powerpoint presentation to illustrate his talk geared toward triumphing over soaring summer temperatures and long dry periods. Gardeners -- especially new ones and those new to the South -- often feel overwhelmed by the multitude of choices they face in plant selection. "Easy Gardens" helps simplify the process and ensure success, said the horticulturist. 


In a sense, Cotten will be coming "home" when he arrives in the Golden Triangle. His father, John Cotten, grew up in Columbus. His mother is an alumna of Mississippi University for Women. Harvey graduated from Mississippi State University, with a degree in ornamental horticulture. Soon after, he served as general manager at Monmouth Plantation in Natchez 


"Working in Natchez right out of college really pressed home to me the significance and importance of historic preservation in the South and especially what a great job Mississippi was doing," said Cotten. "I've admired from afar what Columbus has done to preserve these remarkable structures." 


Cotten, a long-time lecturer for the Master Gardener program, is director emeritus of the Alabama Nursery and Landscape Association and serves as president-elect of the Alabama Invasive Plant Council. He is a trustee and executive committee member of the Horticulture Research Institute and writes a weekly garden column for the Huntsville Times.  


The program will be followed by a book-signing. 


"We are thrilled to be able to have Harvey Cotten speak to all our Golden Triangle gardeners," said Lancaster. "All guests are welcome." 


For more information, contact Lancaster at 662-327-4026.


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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