The Concho Valley Master Gardeners will hold their 10th annual Fall Landscaping Symposium on Sept. 11.

Purple wildflowers against a green background at the Concho Valley AgriLife garden in San Angelo. A bee rests on one flower.
Wildflowers and plants that thrive in the Concho Valley will be a part of the Sept. 11 discussion. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Susan Himes)

The event will take place from 8:30 a.m-3:15 p.m., with sign-ins starting at 8 a.m., at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center, 7887 N. U.S. Highway 87 in San Angelo.

The cost is $30 and will include refreshments and lunch. Participants must register by Sept. 8 using a credit card online at the sale tab of  http://cvmg.square.site or by dropping off cash or a check with a registration form at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office for Tom Green County, 113 W. Beauregard. For more information, call 325-659-6522 or visit txmg.org/conchovalley.

“The Master Gardeners are excited to host a full symposium again this year, after having to adjust last year’s to an online platform,” said Allison Watkins, AgriLife Extension horticulturist, San Angelo. “This year we are meeting in person again and are proud to host some top-notch, enjoyable speakers.”

There will also be an optional plant swap; interested participants should bring a plant to receive a plant.

Working with wildflowers

Speaker John Thomas, founder and owner of Wildseed Farms, Fredericksburg, will present “Growing Wildflowers in Texas.” Wildseed Farms is the largest working wildflower farm in the U.S. and welcomes 300,000 visitors a year.

Participants will learn what, where and how to plant wildflowers in Texas. Thomas has spoken at Master Gardener and Garden Club events for over 30 years.

“John Thomas’ talk on growing wildflowers is perfect timing to get some beautiful bluebonnets and other native wildflowers planted this fall,” Watkins said. “He will share his wildflower farming and commercial planting experience. Our participants will find his talk easily understandable and rewarding.”

Thomas is considered the foremost expert in wildflower growing and also works as a consultant to state highway departments, commercial developers, parks, resorts and homeowners throughout the continental U.S.

Water and your landscape

The topics “Water Efficient Landscapes for West Texas” and “What Water are you Choosing for Your Landscape” will be presented by Beckly Bowling, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension urban water specialist, Dallas.

Watkins said Bowling will be presenting some very helpful information on how to have a beautiful, green and colorful landscape while conserving water and protecting our natural resources.

The rain garden at the Tom Green County 4-H Center in San Angelo. The garden is maintained by Concho Valley Master Gardeners.
West Texas-friendly landscaping, such as this rain garden at the Tom Green County 4-H Center, will be covered during the Master Gardener Fall Symposium. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Susan Himes)

“We’ll walk through some of the best options for different parts of your landscape ranging from turfgrasses to ornamental plants and trees with color photos and simple tips to make them work for you,” Watkins said. “In addition to this, Dr. Bowling will introduce helpful tools for more water-efficient plant selection from Texas A&M AgriLife’s Earth-Kind Plant Selector to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website.”

The second half of Bowling’s presentation will cover a checklist of basic practices that can be implemented in lawn and landscape to help improve water-use efficiency. Topics will include hydro-zoning, basic irrigation tips, recommendations for soil management and more.

Maverick gardens

Author and retired AgriLife Extension horticulturist Felder Rushing will present “Maverick Gardeners: Keepers of the Flame.”

“Felder will present a fun and entertaining program based on his new book,” Watkins said. “In his two-part presentation, he will cover plants, process and people — what he calls the ‘three chords’ of gardening.”

Watkins said Rushing will highlight why each chord is crucial.

Rushing will discuss non-traditional gardeners who “color outside the lines” and why they, and their loosely connected web of universally shared plants and down-home wisdom, are so important to all of us. He will also cover the importance of gardening for mental health and emphasize the psychology of gardeners who do it best.

Rushing is a board member of the American Horticulture Society and member of the Royal Horticulture Society. He also hosts NPR’s  “The Gestalt Gardener” podcast.

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