First annual event celebrates the ‘art of gardening’


Jane Loveless, left, and Imogene Triplett are two of three co-chairs helping organize the inaugural “Everything Garden Expo” Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8, at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville. At Smith’s Landscaping in Columbus — one of more than 50 vendors participating in the event — they are surrounded by plants arriving daily for spring planting.

Jane Loveless, left, and Imogene Triplett are two of three co-chairs helping organize the inaugural “Everything Garden Expo” Saturday and Sunday, March 7-8, at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville. At Smith’s Landscaping in Columbus — one of more than 50 vendors participating in the event — they are surrounded by plants arriving daily for spring planting. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Launch Photo Gallery


Norman Winter


Felder Rushing


Nellie Neal



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Link Link: View Mississippi Horse Park's Calendar of Events

Jan Swoope



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 




  • n 8:45-9:45 a.m. -- "Seasonal Lawn Care: Doing What, When, Why and How Much," with Dr. Wayne Wells, Extension professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at MSU. 


  • n 10-11 a.m. -- "Come Join the Herbal League," with Dr. Lelia Kelly, associate Extension professor and the consumer horticulture specialist, MSU Extension Service. 


  • n 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- "New Plants in Captivating Combinations," with Norman Winter, Extension instructor, Central Mississippi Research and Extension Center, MSU. 


  • n 1-2 p.m. -- "Beautiful Ideas and Smart Examples To Go," with radio personality and author Nellie Neal, aka "The Garden Mama." 


  • n 2:15-3:15 p.m. -- "How to Grow Roses in the Deep South," with Jim Mills, owner of K&M Nursery in Buckatunna. 


  • n 3:30-4:15 p.m. -- "Gardening in the Shade," with Dr. Milo Burnham, former radio talk show host, author and retired horticulturist, MSU Extension Service. Dr. Burnham also served as coordinator for the MSU Master Gardener Program. 


  • n 4:30-5:30 p.m. -- "Container Gardening," with Jeff Fulton, owner of Yarbrough''s Garden Center in Louisville. Fulton hosted "Secret Gardens of Savannah" on the Home and Garden Channel.




Sunday, March 8 




  • n Noon-1 p.m. -- "Gardening for Looks and Cooks," with Dr. David Nagel, vegetable specialist with the Mississippi Extension Service and professor of Plant and Soil Sciences at MSU. 


  • n 1:15-2:30 p.m. -- "Unconventional Gardening," with Felder Rushing, radio''s "Gestalt Gardener" and author of 15 gardening books. Rushing is also a former Extension Service urban horticulture specialist whose articles have appeared in numerous national publications. 


  • n 2:45-4 p.m. -- "Landscape Lighting and Garden Ornamentation," with Dr. Sadik Artunc, head of the MSU Department of Landscape Architecture.




Children''s activities 


Saturday, March 7 




  • n 8:45-9:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m. -- "Decorating and Planting Pots for Fun," with Nelle Elam, founder of the art program at Starkville Public Schools. Plant materials will be provided by Rusty Coats of the Millsaps Vocational Center. 


  • n 2:15-4:15 p.m. -- "Edible Education: Field to Plate," with Dr. Sylvia Byrd, MSU associate professor of nutrition, and Beverly Lowry, director of child nutrition for Starkville Public Schools, and Roland Parny, of the MSU Department of Food Science.




Sunday, March 8 




  • n 1:15-2:15 p.m. -- "Life of a Butterfly," with Dr. Michael Williams, entomologist emeritus at MSU and self-proclaimed "bug chaser."


Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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