Mt. Vernon Register-News


February 9, 2013

Herb and Garden Show offers guest speakers

MT. VERNON — — The 25th annual Midwestern Herb and Garden Show got a running start Friday and will continue through Sunday.

With nearly 50 vendors and more than 20 free classes and seminars, the event offers plenty to both seasoned gardeners and those whose green thumb may not have developed yet.

Keynote speaker Melinda Myers, author of "Melinda's Garden Moments," volumes 1 through 3, gave her first talk Friday at 5 p.m., on gardening in small spaces. She will speak again today at 11 a.m., on the topic of "Low Maintenance, Big Impact Perennial Gardens."

Myers, a gardening expert, TV and radio host, author and columnist, has more than 30 years of experience in horticulture, information states. She has a master's degree in horticulture, is a certified arborist and is currently on the board of directors for the International Society of Arboriculture.

She has written more than 20 gardening books, including "Can't Miss Small Space Gardening." She was the host of "Great Lakes Gardener" on PBS, as well as "The Plant Doctor" radio program.

Myers said the Midwest Herb and Garden Show is the best-kept horticulture secret in the midwest.

She offered several tips to help those with only small spaces make beautiful gardens.

"Hopefully the ideas you'll leave with today will help you be able to create small, intimate spaces and reduce your maintenance," she said. "The easier I make it on myself, the more I can do, and then I can take some time to relax."

Myers said the first and most important thing to do is to plan first and shop later.

She said to make every space count, tie the indoors to the outdoors, make the most of borrowed views and keep it simple.

Myers said at a former home, she only had about a square foot of garden space she could use, so she had to try to fit four seasons of plants in.

She showed photos of her old balcony, which had a park easement to the north with large trees, an alley to the east, and her neighbor's second floor bathroom to the south.

"You have to think about the views you want to keep and the views you want to get rid of," she said.

She encouraged gardeners to look for plants that have year-round interest. She gave the example of the purple Diablo ninebark plant, saying it has nice purple foliage all season, and then interesting seed heads and "shreddy bark" in the fall and winter.

She also said plants that attract birds and butterflies are great for the garden, especially for those trying to encourage their children to garden.

"We need to inspire the next generation," she said. "My granddaughter planted 100 sunflower seeds in the garden in the fall. Thirty of them survived, and I planted tomatoes in between them. What was important was getting her excited about gardening."

Myers talked in general terms about types of plants that make the most of small spaces, but she also talked up some specific plant brands, such as the Bloomerang lilac, a type of flower that blooms twice.

She touched on the elements of design, explaining the different effects warm colors and cool colors can have in the garden, as well as echoing a color throughout the garden.

She also spoke about texture. She said having bold texture in the foreground and fine texture plants in the back make the space look bigger.

Simplicity is important when working in small spaces, she said, calling her own garden a "botanical zoo."

She said when planning a garden, to cut the number of species planned in half, and then double the amount.

Myers also said making the most of vertical space is important, both by using tall plants like grasses and trees, as well as using planters or vertical walls of succulents to dress up fences or other plain areas.

More information about Melinda Myers and her work can be seen at

The Midwest Herb and Garden Show continues from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. today and 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit

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