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East County Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 4 months ago

Need a stem class? There's one in Lakewood Ranch

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Lakewood Ranch Garden Club offers special gardening school.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

The mango tree in Phyllis Weber’s backyard has never looked better.

That was after she used a chain saw to cut out a section of its trunk.

Though she thought the tree would die, she followed the directions she received in October from a Manatee County University of Florida Extension Services agent.

“The tree is absolutely glorious,” said Weber, a Lakewood Ranch resident and member of the Lakewood Ranch Garden Club. “It’s the best it’s ever looked, and it’s at a height we can pick the fruit.”

The advice Weber received while visiting the extension office is the same kind of wisdom members of the Lakewood

Ranch Garden Club hope to share this month as the group offers the National Garden Clubs’ Gardening School.

The first two of four courses will be held Jan. 28-31 and the other two are April 1-4.

Instructors are agents at extension offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties. All teachers and materials have been approved by the National Garden Clubs, which created the program.

“There’s over 150 years of knowledge and direct experience,” said event organizer Sheryl Perkins, of the Lakewood Ranch Garden Club. “That’s a lot.”

Course I covers basic plant botany, soils, techniques for growing outdoor flowers and plant propagation. Course II will cover plant diseases and garden pests, irrigation and water, lawn alternatives and growing fruits and vegetables.

Each course costs $65, and individuals can sign up for one or for all four. At the end of each course, attendees can opt to take an exam to earn a National Garden Clubs “consultant badge.”

Weber said many of the gardening lessons will be specific to Florida.

“The growing season in Florida is completely different (than in other areas),” Weber said. “We need to learn the best practices.”

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