Though cooler temperatures are upon us, ideas and tips for gardening remain in bloom.

More than 1,000 members of the Master Gardener organization will gather in Charleston from Oct. 11–14 for the 2011 International Master Gardener Conference.

The conference, in coordination with the West Virginia University Extension Service focuses on “green” gardening and will feature talks from educators and leaders in the horticulture industry.

“Sustainability and ‘green’ gardening are hot topics in the horticulture world,” said Delores Barber, master gardener and conference chairperson. “More than 1,000 participants from 43 states, two provinces and three countries are traveling to West Virginia to learn from the industry’s experts.”

A free trade show is open to the public and will take place from 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Charleston Civic Center. The trade show features more than 40 vendors and exhibits including West Virginia artisan crafts and other gardening items.

All other events are open only to conference attendees.

Conference attendees will gather for a “Taste of West Virginia” at the opening reception on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The meal features locally-grown and produced foods. Local favorites, like ramp chowder and smoke trout, appear on the menu. The reception is sponsored by Bob’s Market & Greenhouses, Inc.

Conference attendees can enjoy a preview of the trade show beginning at noon Oct. 12 at the Civic Center.

Attendees can visit more than 30 breakout sessions on topics ranging from diagnosing soil problems to planting edible landscapes. The conference theme is “Color it Green in a Wild and Wonderful Way.”

Keynote speakers’ topics include “Trends in Horticulture” by Anna Caroline Ball; “The Layered Landscape” by Rick Darke; and “Growing a Greener World” by Joe Lamp’l.

The conference is sponsored by Ball Horticultural Company, the West Virginia Master Gardener Association and WVU Extension Service.

Keynote speaker Joe Lamp’l is sponsored by Fiskars.

“We’ve spent the past four years making sure that we host a conference that provides people with the education they crave but also the enjoyment they deserve,” Barber said. “We’re showcasing our state’s heritage and beauty to a group who might not otherwise have taken the opportunity to visit. I believe they’ll leave with an appreciation of how wild and wonderful West Virginia’s landscape really is.”

The West Virginia Master Gardener Association, in coordination with WVU Extension Service, educates members on the art and science of growing and caring for plants. Members undergo 30 hours of training from gardening experts and must complete 30 hours of volunteer service before receiving certification. The result is a group of highly skilled gardeners who volunteer their time and knowledge to help enhance their local communities.

For more information, visit



CONTACT: Ann Bailey Berry, WVU Extension Service

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.