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Spring garden extravaganza held Saturday

It’s time for Brookhaven to go green – old school green.

There won’t be any hybrid cars and fancy appliances present atSaturday’s ninth annual Spring Gardening Extravaganza, but therewill be everything a gardener would need to embrace the fine springweather and raise up a backyard crop. Lincoln County MasterGardeners President Cathy Ivy said anyone with a green thumb or aknack for home projects is welcome at the free event, which beginsat 9 a.m. in downtown’s Railroad Park.

“For people who are wanting to get out and work in their yards andaround their houses, we’ve got everything you need right here inone place,” Ivy said.

The daylong extravaganza will feature around 20 gardening andoutdoor vendors, children’s activities, food for sale and workshopsby three of Mississippi’s leading plant and wildlife specialists.Admission is free, with hamburger plates selling for $5 and drinksand homemade ice cream costing $1.

There will be free face painting for children and a workshop thatwill send the young ones home with free potted plants.

Mississippi State University’s Dr. David Ingram – “The PlantDoctor” – will be onsite throughout the day to answer gardeners’questions and diagnose plant problems. Gardeners are encouraged tobring any curiously troubled or diseased plants to the event forIngram to anyalze.

Nellie Neal, the “Garden Mama,” will speak about plant propagationat 1 p.m., and will broadcast her weekly Supertalk Mississippiradio show live from the event.

At 10 a.m., MSU’s wildlife specialist Bill Maily will begin hispresentation on the snakes of Mississippi, teaching extravaganzaguests how to identify and deal with the state’s wide variety ofsnakes.

Maily’s presentation may not be for the women in the crowd, Ivysaid, but husbands and children will likely get a kick out of it.The snake presentations won’t be the only way in which theextravaganza deviates from straight gardening – several vendorswill be geared more toward home upkeep as well, she said.

“It’s not just all gardening. We’ll have stuff for your yards, yourpatios and for your homes,” Ivy said. “It’s all thingsoutdoors.”

Lincoln County Master Gardeners Vice President Barbara Breaux saidseveral interesting vendors would be on hand, including stainedglass artists, birdhouse makers, lawn decoration manufacturers andother miscellaneous items.

One of the most interesting vendors expected, Breaux predicted,would be Lawrence County’s Gerald Brent, who is developing anorganic compost ash. Brent is hoping to have samples of hiscreation to distribute, though he may not be able to get thepermits in order in time for the event.

“But he will have information about it, and we’re trying to promotehim,” Breaux said.

This year’s extravaganza will also try to benefit the American RedCross. Brookhaven’s Sloan Smith is participating in theorganization’s Heroes Campaign, aiming to raise $1,000 for thegroup with a dunk tank onsite where local coaches and teachers areexpected to take the plunge in the name of charity.

Robin Mays, community programs director for the Hattiesburg-basedSouth Central Mississippi Chapter – which controls Brookhaven’sMid-South Service Delivery Area – hopes the event will convinceothers to participate in the Heroes Campaign. She said that so far,Smith is the only person from Lincoln County involved.

“We always need local support, and any money raised locally willstay local,” Mays said. “We’re happy to partner with a venue likethe gardening extravaganza. It’s always a great way to talk aboutthe Red Cross and make sure everyone is prepared, especially fortornado season this spring and hurricane season this summer.”

The Red Cross will be looking to challenge more Heroes at theextravaganza. For more information, interested people may call thelocal office at 601-833-2771 or donate online atwww.redcross-heroes.com.

Master gardener Homer Richardson said the Spring GardeningExtravaganza is the organization’s primary fundraiser for the manybeautification projects it engages in around Brookhaven. The eventis just as important, however, in encouraging more people to getinto their gardens.

“After a long winter like this, people are ready to do something,anything that gets them out in the yard and gets them plantingthings. Everyone sort of has the same urge,” he said.