WEST MONROE, La. – Gardening expert Melinda Myers, who also is a TV and radio host, author and columnist, was the featured speaker at this year’s annual Master Gardener’s seminar in West Monroe.
Myers, who is from Milwaukee, said she was an extension agent for about 11 years, during which time she started a Master Gardener program. She also served as assistant city forester and taught at a technical college.
“After those jobs, I started my own company,” she said. “I brought all of the things that I love from those jobs out into the classroom – which are things like this, TV and radio.”
Myers, who describes herself as a gardening expert, has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written more than 20 gardening books. She currently appears on Melinda’s Garden Moment segments that are aired on more than 135 radio and TV stations in the U.S. and Canada.
Myers’ topic fit well with the theme of the program, which was Southern Birds and Blooms.
Speaking on “Beautiful, Easy and Affordable Makeovers,” she showed how anyone can develop their landscape into a welcome retreat, entertainment center or just a beautiful space.
“I want the participants to leave here with ideas that will allow them to go back and look at their landscape with a new set of eyes,” she said.
Myers’ tips showed how inexpensive and how little time are needed to develop even the most difficult landscape.
Other speakers at the seminar included James Dean, who builds bluebird houses and talked about the bird and its habitat. Robert Rickett, a retired physics professor from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and local hummingbird expert, discussed ways to attract ruby-throated hummingbirds to local gardens, and Jeff Landry, owner of Landry Vineyards, explained how his love for gardening helped steer him into the wine-making business.
LSU AgCenter horticulture agent Steven Hotard, of Ouachita Parish, said this is the fourth year for the seminar, and it continues to grow each year.
“We have been able to bring in national and international speakers to the seminar, and this year we had 225 people register,” Hotard said.
The Northeast Louisiana Master Gardener Association put the event together, Hotard said. “I’m just here to oversee things and make sure things go all right.”
Master Gardeners came from Ouachita and surrounding parishes that don’t have Master Gardener programs, he said.
The association uses the annual January meeting to provide gardening information to members and also as a “pick-me-up” program.
“It’s cold outside, and nobody is able to garden yet. But we use this meeting to fire them up and get them ready to go as soon as the weather allows,” Hotard said.
Landscape horticulturalist and florist Karen Mulhearn said this is her first year as a Master Gardener. She attended the seminar because the topics were interesting and she enjoyed the information and the exhibits.
“We work with a group called New Light Economic Empowerment Corporation,” she said. “They have a community garden, and we taught the children how to plant and build beds for plants like tomatoes, squash and carrots.”
“Last year our Master Gardeners volunteered over 3,000 hours that they put back into programs like this, plant sales, working at the zoo, working at museums and helping to do various landscaping projects,” Hotard said.
The Northeast Louisiana Master Gardener Association has been around for about 10 years and currently has 101 members.
Master Gardeners is a volunteer program conducted by agents of the LSU AgCenter.
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