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Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Advice, plants available at annual USF Botanical Gardens festival

TAMPA – Spring has sprung and that means the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens is set to host its biggest event of the year.

The 25th annual Spring Plant Festival will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdayand from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundayat 12210 USF Pine Drive, on the southwest corner of the USF Tampa campus.

Admission is $5 per person but children under 12 and USF Botanical Gardens members are admitted free. Parking is also free.

“Growers come from all over Florida and you’ll get advice from the people you know and grow the plants,” said Kim Hutton, USF Botanical Gardens special events and volunteer coordinator.

More than 70 vendors – from commercial growers to local plant-related organizations – will be on hand to show and sell a wide assortment of spring plants and gardening items.

Talks by plant experts are planned hourly on Saturday. They include a workshop about organic vegetable gardening at 11 a.m. followed at noon with a seminar by George Kish, co-author of “Native Florida Plants for Drought- and Salt-Tolerant Landscaping.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Drexel University and a master’s degree in environmental science from Rutgers University.

“Gardening in Florida’s coastal and dry inland areas can be quite challenging, but if you use native plants the payoff is huge,” said Kish, a recent retiree from the U.S. Geological Survey in Tampa and part-time environmental science teacher at St. Petersburg College in Seminole.

Sunday’s talks include one at noon on beekeeping and another at 1 p.m. titled Orchids for Beginners by Peter Skoglund, an advance placement physics and honors physics teacher at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel who volunteers at the USF Botanical Gardens on weekends.

“I’m going to emphasize that orchids are not hard to grow,” said Skoglund, who earned a doctorate in plant physiology at Penn State University. “Types like oncidium are easy to grow outside under a tree and flower a couple times a year with very little attention.”

While their parents are shopping and/or attending the various seminars their youngsters are invited to spend their time in the free children’s craft area.

For more information, call (813) 974-2329 for more information.

Joyce McKenzie can be reached at [email protected]

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