By Catharine Ward [email protected]
Appeared in the Rappahannock Record
Lisa Ziegler is one of three horticulture experts to speak at the Northern Neck Master Gardeners’ 2016Gardening in the Northern Neck seminar Saturday, April 2, at the Church of the Nazarene, located at 57 Wisk Drive in White Stone, VA. Ziegler is a grower, author and lecturer – whose presentation “From the Ground Up” will be about the organic techniques she uses to achieve bountiful harvests of cut flowers. Rounding out theApril 2 program, two other speakers will describe how practices that “nurture Nature” at home in each of our gardens can make a difference for the environment.
Ziegler’s presentation is about the practices that are “at the root” of the success and beauty of her cut flower farm in the Denbigh area of Newport News. These include how to start seeds both indoors and out, and care for the soil that she values as “a precious gem.” For Ziegler, “the secret to gardening success is so simple, that most often miss it. It’s all about the soil.” A few simple non-backbreaking steps applied each year will build up the soil to make it more self sufficient with each growing season. Her presentation will include how to plant seeds directly in the garden, as well as indoors using the English seed-starting method of soil blocking. Starting from seed gives you choices beyond what is available at the local garden center – and, she says, is easy if you follow certain ground rules.
Ziegler’s organic farm produces more than 10,000 stems of flowers per week from May through October. She is an urban farmer who for the first eleven years of her growing operation produced three to four thousand stems of cut flowers per week on only one half of an acre of land. She’s since expanded her operation with some additional acreage. Her cut flowers can be found in bouquets sold at food stores, florists and farmers’ markets throughout our area. The Gardener’s Workshop, her online business, features the seeds, supplies and tools she uses in her own garden. She is an author of gardening books, speaks at gardening events in this area and as far away as Texas and New York, and has been a vendor at Gardening at the Northern Neck in past years.
Ziegler’s newest book, Cool Flowers, describes how to take advantage of cool weather to give hardy annuals their start. Some of her favorites include snapdragons, Bells of Ireland, sweet peas and Sweet William. Master Gardener Bonnie Schascheck, whose Irvington garden will be featured this year on the Haven’s Just Gardenstour, has attended Ziegler’s presentations in the past on a variety of subjects and has this to say about her most recent book. “I do have her book and have found it extremely helpful, especially if you live in Zone 7. It has detailed explanations of which flowers to plant in late fall that will overwinter to have blooms in early spring. I have heard Lisa speak several times and she has never repeated a presentation. I actually wished she could have spent more time on soil blocking when she did our presentations, but knowing what to plant in late fall for early spring flowers was interesting and useful information.” Ziegler will have her books for sale at the seminar, and her presentation will include a slide show and hands-on demonstration of her seed starting methods.
For many of the area’s gardening enthusiasts, the April 2nd Gardening in the Northern Neck seminar has become an annual rite of Spring – according to spokesperson Cathie Ward. “It’s a time to begin thinking about our gardens in earnest, and to reconnect with others of like mind.” At lunch and during break periods, attendees can browse an extensive marketplace featuring an assortment of vendors, landscape designers and organizations whose message and products further the seminar’s environmental stewardship theme for this year. Similarly, the Master Gardeners will be offering a number of books for sale consistent with this theme. There will be plenty of opportunity to socialize with fellow enthusiasts during the break periods, said Ward, to hear what has worked or not worked for them, and what they plan to do differently this year. Beverages and snacks during these break periods are free.
The cost for the seminar is $25. Box lunches can be purchased for an additional fee. Registrations forms will be available on the Northern Neck Master Gardeners’ Website www.nnmg.org beginning February 1, 2016. They can also be obtained by calling the Northumberland Cooperative Extension Office at 804 580-5694.