Margaret Roach

Margaret Roach Is Keynote Speaker at Cornell Cooperatives Annual Garden Day

by Editor

Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners’
16th Annual Garden Day.

Are you a gardener?  Are you an avid follower of Margaret Roach’s newsletter, A Way to Garden? Have you read her most recent book, The Backyard Parables? If you have or haven’t done, you will surely not want to miss hearing her speak at the Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners’ 16th Annual Garden Day on April 18.

Garden Day 2015_sm This all day program is a gardeners’ dream come true featuring 16 gardening classes, a keynote speaker, vendors, free gardening information to take away for future reference, free soil tests (a must if you want to start your garden off right), a fabulous bake sale featuring sweets and savory homemade goodies and door prizes. This year’s event features Keynote Speaker, Margaret Roach: gardener, author and garden guru of the popular website, A Way To Garden and public radio show where she shares her own of brand of “horticultural how-​​to and woo-​​woo”.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with Margaret’s keynote address entitled “Unlocking Seed Secrets: From the Practical to the Political” an insightful talk about choosing the right varieties from sources that match your garden conditions. Margaret will demystify the politics of organic vs. non organic and concerns about GMO engineered seeds.  Whether you start your garden flowers, herbs and veggies from seed or purchased starts, this talk will surely get you growing with confidence.

This year’s Garden Day theme, “Beauty & the Feast”, is designed to cover both edible and ornamental gardening. Everyone who attends Garden Day will choose 4 classes out of 16 offerings in addition to the keynote. Many of the instructors are Master Gardener Volunteers and also guest instructors from area nurseries and gardening businesses. One of our most beloved presenters is Sally Spillane of the Gardening Show a feature of WKZE radio on Sunday mornings at 8 a.m.  Sally’s topic is “Designing for the Late Season Garden” a topic often overlooked in the excitement of spring. Sally will focus on specific plants that bloom from late summer, look good and keep on going throughout autumn until the frost comes.

Polly M. Law, artist, native plant enthusiast and key staffer at Catskill Native Nursery, will give us the honest truth about planting and maintaining “Wild Flower Gardens and Meadows”. And, David Campolong of New Leaf Design and one of the new owners of the Phantom Gardener in Rhinebeck will give a talk entitled “Small Trees That Fit in Any Garden”. David will explain how you can expand your garden design ideas by including understory gems that will work well in intimate garden settings, beds and borders.

Here are some of the workshops being offered:

“Perennial Pruning Tips”: An insightful class where you will learn how to manage perennials to control height, stagger bloom time and encourage re-​​bloom.

“Think inside the Pot” Creating Container Gardens: A must for patios, decks and filling in bare spots in the perennial garden.

“Plant the Seeds of Pollination”: With bee colonies continuing to decline we need to grow gardens that attract different insects and wildlife to perform the essential work of pollination and as a result improve our garden harvest.

“Bring Your Food to the Feast”: The solution to what to do with all that food that you grew.  Much of your harvest can be saved for winter use through canning, freezing, drying and storage methods that will be reviewed in this class.

“Vegetables – Getting It Right”: Just getting started on a vegetable garden can be daunting. This class designed for beginner and intermediate gardeners is where you can get the best suggestions for building different types of beds that will work in any situation, seed or starter plant selections, watering techniques, weeding and fertilizing to get the best harvest.

“Vegetable Gardening Year Round”: If you’re already an accomplished veggie gardener you can learn how to take it a little further and stretch your growing season well into fall and early winter, and how to get a garden growing in the chilly month of February.

“Photographing the Garden”: Photographing your garden is one of the best ways to preserve its beauty and to keep a record of your plantings. This will be a hands-​​on class, so charge up your battery and pack your camera for a new learning experience.

“Solving the Shade Garden Dilemma”: So many Hudson Valley gardeners have shady properties. Don’t despair, there may be some sacrifices in terms of showy flowers but there are plenty of beautiful plants to choose that deliver color, texture and blooms.

“Bugs — Garden Friends and Foes”: Not all insects are pests, we all need the skill to tell the good guys from the bad so we can keep a balance in the garden without the heavy use of pesticides that sometimes do more harm than good.

“Growing Deer Resistant Herbs for Beauty, Food and Health”: Herbs are always a popular topic among gardeners. They are versatile, fragrant, pests resistant and the uses are nearly endless.

“Care and Maintenance of Fruit Trees”: Get good advice and tips so that you can grow healthy productive fruit trees.

“Growing Great Garlic”: Garlic is essential for the kitchen garden and can easily be grown with the insightful information you will gain in this class.  If you’ve ever been disappointed with your past experience, this class is for you.

Rounding out the program is “Let’s Talk Dirt”. This is a simple easy to understand presentation about the nitty-​​gritty details of soil and how you can apply this knowledge to create lush gardens whether they are vegetable or ornamental.


More about Margaret Roach, in her own word’s:

I have been writing about gardening for 25-​​plus years. In my previous lives, I was garden editor at Newsday newspaper (one of the country’s largest dailies) and then for Martha Stewart, where I was the first garden editor of Living and later EVP/​Editorial Director of her magazines, books and internet.

I “retired” (but didn’t stop working) on the last day of 2007 (at a very young age, thank you) to my 2.3-acre garden, bordering on the Berkshires of Massachusetts. I walked away from a career and “success” to explore personal creativity again. The book I wrote about dropping out, And I Shall Have Some Peace There, was published in February 2011; my next, a garden memoir and handbook called The Backyard Parables, in January 2013. Eat, Pray, Love author Liz Gilbert (a keen gardener herself) called my writing “a blessing.”

I speak serious botanical Latin, but long ago lost count of how many genera, species and varieties of plants both edible and ornamental grow here.

I am also an old-​​fashioned, organic-​​style gardener and a vegetarian (for 30-​​plus years), so…

Gardening is not my hobby, it is my spiritual practice and life partner. I hope it will become yours.

Margaret’s  garden has been open to tours for 20 years as part of the national Garden Conservancy Open Days visiting scheme and on other occasions.

It’s truly lovely, I’ve been there! [editor]


Garden Day is happening on Saturday, April 18, 8:30 – 4:30, at SUNY Stone Ridge (UCCC). The cost is $35 for pre-​​registration or $40 at the door. But don’t wait until the last minute to register, last year the program was sold out. You can see all the details about Garden Day’s program and print out a registration form by visiting the Garden Day website or request a printed brochure by calling Dona Crawford, UCCCE Master Gardener Coordinator, at 845 – 340-​​3990 x 335.

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