Monday, March 17, 2014

My day at the 2014 Oklahoma Gardening School

I had a great time this past Saturday at the Oklahoma Gardening School, hosted by the Myriad Botanical Gardens. It was held in the beautiful Devon Auditorium and was very well attended.

There were a small number of vendors, a continental breakfast provided, and several authors were there doing book signings, including Rosalind Creasy and Dee Nash. I got to meet both of them and they were lovely people. It's so nice to meet others who know what you're talking about and are EXCITED! to discuss issues surrounding home edible gardens.

(and who don't think you're nuts for wanting to take photos of plants!)

The title of this year's event was "From Chard To Chickens: Rethinking The American Kitchen Garden".

The first speaker was Tres Fromme, Landscape Design and Planning Manager at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, whose talk was titled, "Delicious Designs: Harvesting Creativity For Your Garden".

Not only was he an engaging and funny speaker (I'm suspecting he would do quite well as a stand-up comedian!) but he showed us the most gorgeous slides of the various edible gardens that he's worked on. 

Some quotes:

"Most gardens are not one-night stands"

"Show me a garden that's finished and I'll show you a dead gardener"

"Plants don't make bad design, people make bad design"

"Most garden designs need a good editor"

"Gardening is the slowest of the performing arts"

I really liked that one, because I had never thought of gardening as a performing art. But of course it IS, especially if you've got your work in the front yard ...

Another point he made that I really liked was to look at plants and garden objects and ask yourself what their purpose is -- and also ask yourself if you can create multiple uses, especially for garden decor items. An example he used were waist-high movable garden pots with wide lips that doubled as counters for outdoor cocktail parties -- that could be pushed to the sides of the patio to use the area as a dance floor!

Wonderful talk, I really enjoyed it.

The next talk was by Brian Pirtle, Manager of Cedar Spring Farms, who talked about vegetable gardening in Oklahoma, with specifics on varieties that do well here and month to month garden care.

After that we took a lunch break, and I went over to the Park House restaurant in the Botanical Gardens, and I had the most delicious herbed rotisserie chicken I've ever tasted. If you're in Oklahoma City, I highly recommend you visit there.

The next speaker was author and garden photographer Rosalind Creasy, who if you don't know you should. ;)

The author of 14 books on home edible gardens, she talked about how she started doing edible landscaping in 1973, and shared over two dozen beautiful photos of home edible gardens.

Some quotes:

"America is the only country in the world with a lawn industry"

"Landscapers used to be for the ultra-rich, who were the only ones that could afford to waste land by planting something which wasn't useful"

A comment she got from someone in Germany: "You mean Americans have to be told to put edible plants in the front yard?"

"If you don't like your neighbors, don't put edible plants in the front yard" (because they'll be stopping by!) ... although she also said, "Most Americans wouldn't know an edible plant if they fell over one"

"Edible landscaping isn't just putting corn in the front yard -- an edible landscape pleases the eye"

(which I agree with wholeheartedly!)

She loves putting flowers in the vegetable garden for pollination and companion planting purposes. She also talked quite a bit about the variety of brightly-colored edible plants, such as "Graffiti" cauliflower (which is bright purple!), "Pesto Perpetuo" variegated basil, and "Indigo Rose" tomato (which is such a dark purple as to be almost black!)

The last speaker was Samantha Snyder, a garden talk show host, who spoke on pest management, and then there was an question and answer session with the speakers.

I had never been to one of these before but I thought it was very enjoyable and will certainly go to another of these. If you'd like a copy of the handouts, just comment below with your email and I'll send them to you.