Landscape for Life

It is important to have sustainable landscapes that attract pollinators such as this butterfly. Anyone interested in learning how to garden with nature, sign up for the Landscape for Life being offered by the Southside Master Gardener Association.

Anyone who has ever wanted to take the Master Gardener course but is still working or doesn’t want to commit to the volunteer obligation may be interested in Southside Master Gardener Association’s Landscape for Life.

Landscape for Life is based on sustainable landscape practices. Think of it as a mini-Master Gardener training. The six classes will start on Jan. 10 and be held on the second and fourth Fridays in January, the first and third Friday in February and second and fourth Friday in March from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Boston-Halifax County Museum.

The Landscape for Life series starts off on Jan. 10 with an introduction to soils by Kathy Conner Cornell. Most times we don’t give soil any thought. Soils are everything to the plant. It is through the interaction of roots and the soil that plants receive their nutrition and water. Healthy soils are the basis of a beautiful garden. Bring a small baggie of soil from the garden to the class.

Water quality will be discussed on Jan. 24. Stormwater management is very important no matter where one lives. People need to garden and manage runoff in ways that protect the waterways. One will learn special techniques to properly manage rainwater in the landscape.

On Feb. 7, Cornell will review how to determine the right plant for the right place. It is important to avoid invasive alien plants that disrupt natural habitats. Native plants can often be a good choice in the sustainable garden but not necessarily the only choice. Participants will learn what to consider as they make the best plant selections for the garden. Also as a special treat, Herb Thomas, Nelson County Master Gardener, will show the class the steps to make a wildflower meadow.

A special treat awaits on Feb. 21. A strong design is the backbone of any landscape. A gardener shouldn’t put a shovel in the ground until he or she has assessed the space and determined what functions are wanted for the landscape to serve such as play area, private area or entertaining area. The design development will be an ongoing project, but to help with the plan Jean Blanton, Southside Master Gardener, will guide gardeners through the basics of landscape design principles.

Materials, normally thought of as hardscape, will be discussed on March 13. In the landscape, hardscapes are often used for things such as fencing, arbors, trellises or pathways. This will be a fun session chock full of ideas on how to use repurposed/recycled materials to define areas in the garden. A main way one can recycle and repurpose is to compost.

Participants will guided through the steps to create black gold that is so important to soils.

Cornell will lead a presentation on integrated pest management. Using chemical pesticides should be the last resort for garden pest problems. The IPM method details the steps to be taken before ever reaching for a pesticide and what improper pesticide use is doing to wildlife, especially bees.

The last class on March 27 will be devoted to each member’s personal design and their specific issues. Some designs will be discussed in the class, and everyone will have the opportunity for a personal consultation.

Participants will leave the program feeling confident they can have the landscape of their dreams and help protect the environment for enjoyment of future generations.

There will be a $25 fee to cover the materials for the six sessions. Participants are encouraged to attend all sessions to get the maximum value out of the classes. However if this just doesn’t work into one’s schedule, individual classes will have a $5 fee. The fee is for a family – husband and wife, parent and mature child or friends.

Advance registration and payment is required. Space is limited. To register go to the Halifax Extension Office to pick up an application form or e-mail ask@ssmga.org to request an application form.

Mail completed form and check made out to SSMGA to Halifax County Extension Office, PO Box 757, Halifax, VA 24558. The six classes will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 10, 24, Feb. 7, 21, March 13 and 27 at the South Boston – Halifax County Museum located at 1540 Wilborn Avenue, South Boston.

For more information, email ask@ssmga.org or call the extension office at 434-476-2147, option 0.