More than plants, trinkets found at 10th annual Gardenfest

VERO BEACH – The Tenth Annual Gardenfest under the oaks at Riverside Park drew a massive crowd of people selecting new additions and replacements for their landscaping.

More than 70 vendors lined the walkways, offering a variety of plants, tips and suggestions for plant care, as well as trinkets and décor to add more dimension to home gardens. A mini-buzz among orchid fans was about the beguiling blue phaelanopsis in Gail Miller’s orchid display.

Miller explained that the blue beauties weren’t born that way, but were the result of a closely guarded secret process involving injecting a “gene from a non-orchid.”

The result is a fabulous orchid-looking beauty, which technically cannot be called an orchid, Miller said, due to its secret parentage.

In other tents, less exotic, but equally colorful and exuberant, were the snapdragons, geraniums, roses, petunias and others.

Throughout both days, a group of experts – “Ask the Experts” – and Garden Club members gave presentations and answered questions on such topics as earthboxes, herbs, bromeliads, orchids, soil, water and ferns.

Poinsettia Circle member Mary Lou Power said some of the common questions they are asked include: what grows best in sun or shade; fertilizer; those about palm trees; and a biggie – pruning.

Over pruning palms is a common mistake, they said – even when the cold weather has made plants look bad or dead, gardeners are recommended to resist the temptation to prune until March.

Vendors offering Black Kow (manure, not root beer and ice cream); landscape lighting, pest control, pavers, power tools and outdoor furniture were all represented.

And then there were the worms.

Bernie Moro has a worm farm in Apopka and had brought a bunch of them, along with a composter unit made out of recycle materials.

These worms, she explained, can take 600 pounds of organic waste – household garbage – and, in a year’s time, turn it into 120 pounds of “worm castings.”

This material is not really compost because it doesn’t break down garbage using heat, but is considered the caviar of the garden world when used as a soil amendment.

Moro explained that worms have gizzards, so they are fed a blend of volcanic rock, which allows them to transform garbage efficiently.

The Garden Club, made up of nine circles, is 82 years old and, from the beginning, has sought to educate its members and the public in all aspects of horticulture.

The Gardenfest, this year co-chaired by Barbara Russell, Karen Vatland, and Bonnie Veron. In lieu of an entry fee, raffle tickets are sold to generate funds for club projects.

Principal Gardenfest sponsors included: Bug Master Pest Control, Florida TopShell LLC, Press Journal, The Breeze 93.7 & Ocean FM, Vatland Honda Power Equipment and Vero Beach Magazine.

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