The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

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April 13, 2012

Spring Garden Symposium less than a month away

TARBORO — The annual Blount-Bridgers Spring Garden Symposium, scheduled for May 10,  comes after an unusually mild winter, but certainly not forgetting what many of the featured gardens on the tour went through during last year’s hurricane season when Irene ripped her way through the county and through Tarboro’s historic district.  Having overcome that major weather event; residents recall how quickly most of those devastated neighborhoods were restored, crediting the quick responders on the town and county payrolls, and the hundreds of volunteers that joined the effort.  

So now, the Blount-Bridgers Garden Committee is ready for show time and is all set to welcome garden enthusiasts through seven featured private gardens and three popular public ones. The symposium began in 2008 as an annual fundraiser, switching to even-numbered years in 2010.  “That one was a sell-out and it looks as though we’re in for a repeat this year,” says organizer Candis Owens.  Proceeds from ticket sales and from garden vendor fees benefit the on-going restoration of the Blount-Bridgers Gardens.

The symposium features two carefully chosen speakers that are well-known in the field, some who have contributed to popular garden publications. Specialty garden vendors are invited to participate before and after the lectures and a catered luncheon in the historic Calvary Churchyard.  After a full day viewing some of Tarboro’s most beautiful gardens visitors are served a proper afternoon tea on the Blount-Bridgers House grounds. According to Owens, all this is what makes the event so popular for locals as well as so many groups visiting from out of town.  

The morning speaker is Martha Hartley, Preservation Planner and Horticulture Outreach, Research and Planning director for the Restoration Division Old Salem Museums & Gardens, who will talk about Old Salem Museums and Gardens and the Legacy of the Moravians: a Landscape History. ”Hartley’s ties to historic gardens and museum settings of Old Salem seemed appropriate to bring to historic Tarboro,” says Owens.  Her lecture will explore the history of Salem through its landscape and gardens and will address current efforts to present and interpret the Salem gardens and landscape and share information through community outreach.

The afternoon speaker is Michael McConkey, thoroughly entertaining authority on edible plants.  McConkey spent about ten years in Adelphi MD, growing everything that was edible. He lived in a yurt and attended University of Maryland working part time at a natural foods store. Since then he has helped to popularize some amazing edibles with his nursery Edible Landscaping in the Blue Ridge Mountains west of Charlottesville VA. He practices sustainable planting, growing, and harvesting practices using no herbicides nor any of their products. He’s an expert grower and promises an entertaining presentation.

The Spring Garden Symposium is May 10 at Calvary Episcopal Church, 411 East Church St. in Tarboro from 8:30 am - 5 pm.  For tickets, call Edgecombe Arts 823-4159 or Candis Owens 823-5770.

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