Landscaping and gardening in the unique environments found throughout the highlands of Arizona can challenge even the savviest of green thumbs.
To help overcome these challenges, master gardeners from Gila, Yavapai, Coconino and Navajo Counties, along with the experts from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, are presenting a two-day conference to share their secrets for success.
The 8th annual Arizona Highlands Garden Conference will be held Oct. 11 and 12 at the Apache Gold Casino, San Carlos, five miles east of Globe on Hwy. 70.
Each year, gardeners in the Arizona Highlands, 3,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level, tackle the difficult gardening conditions of high altitude, unique water conditions, wide variety of soils, wildfire, wildlife interaction and other challenges of high desert and forested country, as they endeavor to become highland gardeners.
This year's conference has sessions of interest to gardeners living in the Valley, as well. Uses of native plants by Native Americans will be featured, as well as "how to" workshops. There are speakers, exhibitors and opportunities to meet other gardeners to share your love of gardening.
This conference is open to the public and will be unique. There will be three concurrent sessions addressing high-country landscape issues, including a hands-on workshop track.
Keynote guests for the morning of the first day of the conference are authors Don Wills and Jean Groen, who have written the book "Plants of the Sonoran Desert and Their Many Uses." The duo will present their program at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 11.
The conference sessions begin at 10:45 a.m. Participants can hear from Seth Pilsk, San Carlos Apache Tribe ethnobotanist, who will talk about Apache gardening and farming, and the useful plants of the Apache or Cayce Vuksanovich, Globe-Miami horticulture expert, who will speak on "BEE in the Garden." The first session's workshop choice is on making indoor fountains.
The second session starts at 1:15 p.m. Jay Spehar, Phelps Dodge environmental and land manager, will discuss reclamation processes and sustainable post-mining land uses. Rob Call, UA horticulture and fruits agent, will talk about successes with fruit trees, including easy varieties and tips to trick the weather. The workshop will be on indoor cacti and succulents.
The first day's third session starts at 2:30 p.m. and includes programs on edible herb varieties and growing tips; tree insects by Tom DeGomez, UA forest health specialist; and a workshop on decorative gourds.
The closing keynote of the first day will be on landscape basics, presented by Kim Stone, Boyce Thompson Arboretum horticulture specialist.
Opening the second day will be a presentation by author Judith Phillips, "Southwestern Highlands Gardening: Love Where You Live" at 9:30 a.m.
The first session of the day will have programs on backyard composting by Marta Waddell, Maricopa County Master Gardener; emerging plant viruses of vegetable seedlings and vegetable crops by Judith Brown, UA plant pathology specialist; and a landscape planning workshop.
The day's second session will include the topics success with butterfly gardens by Chris Klein, Boyce Thompson Arboretum horticulture specialist; shade tolerant, low-water use plants for the high desert by Chris Jones, UA horticulture and natural resources agent; and a workshop on painting autumn leaves with watercolors.
The third session will cover variety in the salsa garden by Pat Romero, proprietor of Sunrise & Sunset Chile & Herb Gardens; tree pruning techniques for both deciduous and conifer trees by Jeff Schalau, UA horticulture and natural resources agent; and a workshop on decorative gourds.
The closing program will be by Bruce Wales, on worms in the garden.
Pre-registration is required, seating is limited. Walk-ins will not be accepted.
Persons with a disability may request reasonable accommodation -- such as a sign language interpreter -- by contacting Susan Bolt (928) 474-4160. Requests should be made as early as possible, to allow time to arrange the accommodation.
Contact Gila County Cooperative Extension for more information, (928) 402-8585.
Conference participants can attend both days, or just one day.
Register by Sept. 10 and pay $50 for one day; $90 for two days.
After Sept. 10, pay $65 for one day; $125 for two days.
Lunches, continental breakfast, coffee, tea and juice, breaks, literature folder, hand-sewn goody bags, door prizes, parking and more are included in the registration.
There are separate fees for the workshops. The additional fee pays for a reserved space, hands-on instruction and all materials will be provided.
Lodging is available at the conference site for $55 per night, if reservations are made by Sept. 10, call (928) 475-7600 and mention "U of A" to receive the conference rate.
Through special arrangement with the Boyce Thompson Southwest Arboretum, conference attendees have the opportunity to register for a tour of the Curandero Trail and the Landscape Demonstration Exhibit, prior to the conference from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 10.
The arboretum is at 37615 E. Highway 60 in Superior. The cost is $10. Presenters will be Don Wells and Jean Groen, Paul Walterbeek and Kim Stone.
Master Gardener Program
The Master Gardener program is a nationwide certification program offered through the Land Grant College Cooperative Extension program for those interested in learning more about the specific gardening and horticulture needs of their geographic area.
Each Master Gardener program involves both classroom and on-site learning experiences. Additionally, class participants have the opportunity for a hands-on volunteer internship to share newly-gained gardening and horticulture skills with their community.
To learn more about the Master Gardener program, contact the office of Gila County Cooperative Extension, 5515 S. Apache Ave., Suite 600, Globe, AZ 85501, (928) 402-8585.