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Warm up green thumbs: Garden U is March 24

While the snow banks melt, the St. Croix Valley Master Gardeners Association is planning its annual Garden U.

The event, which offers an educational kick off to the 2007 growing season, will be held Saturday, March 24, at the Valley House, north of Hudson on Hwy 35. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

As growers worry about the lack of moisture, Garden U will feature three speakers with tips on dealing with dry soil conditions.

Leading the full-day event will be UW-River Falls horticulture professor Terry Ferriss, who is the chairwoman of the Plant and Earth Science Department and director of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences internship program. She has taught courses on herbaceous perennials, horticulture, greenhouse management and floriculture production for over 25 years.

Ferriss' topic is "Herbaceous Perennials' Adaptation to Dry Growing Environments."

According to Ferriss, moisture availability is one of the key considerations in the successful selection and placement of herbaceous perennials in the garden. Her presentation will cover soil type, moisture availability and how plants differ in their ability to survive dry growing conditions. She will include examples of perennials and herbaceous plants that are suitable for either sun or shade.

Jason Connett, Green Touch Lawn, will continue the seminar with a discussion of lawn care and tips on refurbishing lawns following drought years.

Connett is licensed in both Wisconsin and Minnesota Departments of Agriculture as a lawn specialist. He has been involved with the grounds maintenance industry since late '80s and in 1995 formed Green Touch Lawn, a specialized liquid-rate fertilizer and broadleaf weed control program service.

Rounding out the day will be Fran Kiesling, owner of Dirty Dog Landscape Consulting and Design Services. Her presentation is "Landscaping With Your Pet in Mind."

Sharing yard and garden space with dogs is challenging, said Kiesling. She sees two large issues: pet-generated yard problems and environmental enrichment for pets.

Kiesling will also offer tips on gardening for wildlife, especially birds and beneficial insects.

The $25 cost of the conference includes lunch and materials. Vendors will include Hermes Garden Center, My Sister's Garden, Valley Book Store and other local nurseries, shops and horticultural volunteer groups.

The event is open to the public.

The $25 registration fee can be mailed to SCVMGA-Barrette, at 1358 County Road V, Houlton WI 54082. Please include name, address and e-mail. Registrations will be accepted at the door as well. However, advance registration is preferred.

For more information call 715-549-6438 or email