Seminar offers new ideas for gardening enthusiasts

Sunday, March 14, 2004

The annual spring gardening seminar at the University Extension Center offered a dozen workshops to about 95 enthusiastic gardeners on Saturday.

"I come to meet people with common interests," said Lynn Westrich of Cape Girardeau, a member of the Ramblewood Garden Club. "You get a lot of new ideas."

Because of their cost-effectiveness, perennials are Westrich's main interest. The perennials workshop appealed to her, she said, because she likes to keep informed of the new varieties.

In addition to perennials, workshops covered bonsai, landscaping, starting seeds, gardening and cooking with herbs, ornamental pruning, making wreaths, garden decorating, basket weaving and native plants.

"Gardening was my stress unit," said former Southeast Missouri Hospital administrator O.D. Niswonger.

Besides reducing stress, his hobby of over 50 years has earned Niswonger various awards. His presentation on iris propagation included slides of his work in breeding irises, daffodils and daylilies. Niswonger grows about 1,000 iris seedlings annually.

"Mutations can happen, but growing seedlings is how you come up with new varieties," he said.

He breeds them for new varieties in size and color, among other characteristics. Having introduced more than 250 varieties, Niswonger has named two for this area -- the Cape Berlin Connection and Miss Cape Girardeau.

"A Cook's Tour of the Herb Garden II," presented by chef Dewayne Schaaf of Celebrations restaurant, paved the way for Don and Carol Koehler's presentation on growing herbs.

"For me, cooking is a process of tasting until you get it right," Don Koehler said. "Recipes are just ideas."

The couple began growing their own herbs after switching from salt to Mrs. Dash because of hypertension. Their presentation focused on growing, harvesting and storing herbs for cooking.

335-6611, extension 133

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