First annual event celebrates the ‘art of gardening’

February 27, 2009

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


Gardening as art? Yes, indeed. The profusion of colors, textures and shades can be as inspiring as a painter''s palette, while the process of bringing them to vibrant life on the earth''s canvas may be as painstaking as the artist''s quest to create his finest. And the fulfillment afforded to those who drink in the beauty of a well-loved garden can equal that of viewing a master''s brushstroke. 


That''s why the Starkville Area Arts Council is partnering with Mississippi State University to celebrate the "art of gardening" with the inaugural "Everything Garden Expo" March 7-8 at the Mississippi Horse Park, an event unprecedented in this part of the state. 


With more than 50 commercial vendors displaying everything from stained glass to zero-turn mowing machines, the Expo pledges to have something for everyone, from established horticulturists to hobby gardeners. 


More than a dozen authorities -- including Norman Winter, Felder Rushing and Nellie Neal -- will share their expertise on subjects such as growing roses in the deep South, landscape lighting, garden ornamentation and filling the dinner plate as well as the flower bed. 


And organizers aren''t forgetting the next generation of the planet''s caretakers. Free children''s activities and topics will include decorating planting pots, edible education and the life of a butterfly. 


"This will be Northeast Mississippi''s premier garden show, featuring outstanding speakers, a broad array of vendors showing their new garden wares and seminars and activities for all ages," said Jane Loveless, of Starkville. Loveless, an Arts Council board member, shares co-chair duties for the Expo with Imogene Triplett and Beverly Jones, both also of Starkville. 


"We''ve practically eaten, slept and lived with this every day since Christmas," Triplett chuckled, referring to their phone and legwork following up on earlier mail-outs to potential participants. The treasurer of The Garden Clubs of Mississippi Inc. has been a tireless champion for getting an exposition of this magnitude to the Golden Triangle. While similar events take place in central and southern areas of the state, this is a first for Northeast Mississippi. 


"Those who come will feel they brought away something new with them," Triplett assured. "We just feel like MSU is absolutely the perfect place to have this, certainly with the agriculture and landscape program and emphasis. Their sponsorship is wonderful." 


Other sponsors include the Mississippi State Extension Service, The Mississippi Horse Park, the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. 




Let''s go shopping 


Vendors, many of them unique, will converge at the Horse Park for a crowd organizers hope will top 2,000 to 2,500. In addition to plants of every kind, the out-of-the-ordinary will be available, too. There is a horseshoer who makes crosses and wreaths out of horse shoes and nails. And ironworks, sculpture, gazebos, painted gourds and Adirondack chairs, to list only a few.  


"We have a fencing company, All Star Fence, of Columbus, as well as three big equipment companies coming and several landscaping companies," said Triplett, adding that the Briar Patch and Stained Glassworks of Columbus are also vendors. 


"This should be one garden show you don''t have to drag your husband to," laughed Loveless, citing the variety of items she thinks will interest men in particular -- Alligator loppers, tillers, backpack sprayers and more. "This is going to be fun for everyone," she stressed. 




Come on down 


Expo doors will be open Saturday, March 7, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 8, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, and children 7 and under will be admitted free. Concessions will be sold on the upper level of the facility. 




Expertise for the asking 


Speakers and topics at the "Everything Garden Expo" include: 


Saturday, March 7 






Sunday, March 8 






Children''s activities 


Saturday, March 7 






Sunday, March 8 


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.