Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter a Great Time for Learning

As I type this, the snow is beginning to fly again. While I love winter, it can be a little tough. The gray weather and lack of sunshine is what really gets to me. Cross-country skiing, sledding, and walks in the woods all help, but I still start to get spring fever. I want to be outside planting, puttering, and feeling the sun on my skin. I want to see flowers in bud and bloom, and I want to start snipping fresh herbs for my salad.

This year I'm trying a new cure - classes! As though they were reading my mind, local organizations are holding some great classes covering everything from native plants to pruning to rain barrels. I've signed up for a three-week course on organic gardening at Hidden Lake Gardens, and I've got my eye on a native plant series through the Stewardship Network, too.

Other good courses are at Mattheai Botanical Gardens in everything from photography to Michigan's orchid population. A really great variety of topics to satisfy learners from across the community.

Frederick Meijer Gardens offers classes in horticulture as well as art for those who like to combine their interests. A visit to them is worthwhile any time of the year as their programs and displays are always changing, and their permanent collection which is always worth a second look.

Michigan State University and the Horticultural Institute partnered with Learn2Grow to offer an intriguing set of on-line courses and gardening tips based on research at Michigan State University. Like regular courses, there is a small fee.

Leila Arboretum Society offers a nice mix of classes to get you through the winter, especially nice as they are up near Grand Rapids. You could hope from Meijer Gardens to them! Well, maybe not exactly hop...unless you're wearing snow shoes....

Michigan Garden Clubs will link you with garden clubs and serves as something of a clearinghouse for courses and information on flower arranging, landscape design, and general gardening.

Lynne Weise, a landscape architect, offers a comprehensive series of courses in garden design at Garden Design in Mount Pleasant. For those looking to gain a really in-depth knowledge of garden design, this series would be worth checking out.

MSU Extension offers any number of great, informative courses, too. The MSU Ornamentals Team ( I kid you not. This is what they are called.) offers a virtual cornucopia of information on landscaping, floriculture (flower farming), and turf grass.

There is also a link to the Michigan Master Gardener Program, which is well worth a look. You could find a nearby Master Gardener program, and sign up. While not everything in the curriculum may be of interest to you, it is well worth considering. I met many other local gardeners, learned how to prune my apple tree, and found the information I needed to start convincing others they could turn their lawns into gardens in no time.

This is just a smattering of what's out there in terms of classes, and if you know of more I'd love t hear about them.

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