Published on 10/16/19

Gardeners, industry professionals invited to Master Gardener conference

By Sharon Dowdy

The Georgia Master Gardener Association (GMGA) Conference will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Museum of Aviation Century of Flight Building on Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Georgia, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

For the first time, the conference is open to the general public as well as to GMGA members. This year’s conference is titled “Plants and Planes: Our Heritage, Our Future.”

Conference speakers include University of Georgia Professor Emeritus Michael Dirr, a globally recognized woody plants expert, and UGA Professor Kim Coder, a world-renowned expert on urban trees. Mary Lynne Beckley, executive director of the Georgia Tree Council, will present Georgia Landmark and Historic Trees. Matt and Tim Nichols, owners of Mr. Maple Nursery, will speak on Japanese maple selections and their travels in Japan. Mark Maher of Southern Living will share new plant introductions.

Master Gardeners and industry professionals can receive educational credits in the following categories: three credits for Forestry Category 23; three credits for Ornamental/Turf Category 24; and two credits for private pesticide.

The conference garden market will be open from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Available for purchase will be Japanese maples from Mr. Maple Nursery; native trees, shrubs and plants from Ernest Koone, owner of Lazy K Nursery (the largest grower of native azaleas in the U.S.); camellias from Massee Lane Gardens; daylilies from Bell’s Daylily Garden; and other plant materials from Vincent Gardens and Flat Creek Native Nursery. Linda Fraser, renowned native plant artist, will show and sell native plant art and prints.

Registration is $115 for GMGA members and $125 for non-members. Register online at

On Friday, Oct. 18, the day before the conference, a free tour of the Macon Museum of Arts and Sciences Native Plant Garden will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The garden received the Native Landscape Award at the South Georgia Native Plant and Wildflower Symposium. The museum is located at 4182 Forsyth Road, Macon, Georgia.

Master Gardeners of Central Georgia, including Master Gardeners from Bibb, Houston, Twiggs, and Crawford counties, worked tirelessly to lay out, label and map the garden beds, provide informative signage and address the natural landscape challenges to prepare the tour, according to Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program Coordinator Sheri Dorn.

A Friday reception, set for 5 to 7 p.m. at The Farmhouse in Warner Robins, is included in the conference registration.

The day after the conference, Sunday, Oct. 20, conference attendees will receive free admission to Massee Lane Gardens in Fort Valley, Georgia. A designated International Camellia Society’s Garden of Excellence, Massee Lane will be open from 1 to 4:30 p.m. The gardens are located at 100 Massee Lane, Fort Valley, Georgia.

Mary Royal, owner of Royal Gardens in Elko, Georgia, invites all conference attendees to tour the gardens at no cost on Sunday.  She will be on hand to answer questions about the gardens during self-guided tours between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Royal Gardens is located at 2541 Elko Rd. in Elko, Georgia.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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