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Get Growing: After 50 years, garden center better than ever

The Hadley Garden Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary beginning on Wednesday. There is an impressive schedule of special events including weekly nursery walks, lectures and other special occasions to commemorate the garden center’s milestone.

When we moved here in 1975, as we drove to Amherst from Bradley Airport, my husband pointed out the garden center, knowing I would want to have a reliable source of plants. Frankly in those days, the garden center offered pretty standard fare and I often ordered plants through the mail. But in recent decades, the center has become a fantastic resource. Tom Giles and his wife, Janine, who bought the store in the mid 1980s, have poured their hearts and souls into the company and they have excellent staff. In midwinter, whenever I get depressed, I head to Route 9 and the garden center to smell the flowers in the greenhouse and chat with the friendly staff. It is almost a second home. Dan Ziomek is my bird “guru,” Clivia Pasek I regard as a special friend and Dianne Klenotic is a gold mine of information on everything to do with gardening. The other staff members, including the youngsters, are cheerful and friendly and eager to help.

We have bought many trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and houseplants as well as basic supplies from this marvelous local resource. Yes, there are other great nurseries in the area and I patronize them as often as possible. But the Hadley Garden Center is “home.” Congratulations on 50 years of stellar service. You should be proud of the improvements you have made and the reliable advice you provide. The celebration lasts all year so be sure to stop by for great bargains and wonderful events and information. Those big box stores simply don’t cut it.

SPRING??? Yes, Spring arrived officially on Wednesday but who would have thought it possible? With a fresh coating of snow and cold temperatures predicted for the next week, those little bulb flowers are having a rough time. I covered my Christmas rose with a glass cloche to protect its pristine white flowers from the snow and sleet but the winter aconite, snowdrops and crocuses as well as the emerging scillas will simply have to fend for themselves. Never fear, spring is coming; it’s just delayed a little bit. Get those tools ready for gardening, do some extra indoor calisthenics and make your wish lists. Spring is inevitable if slightly behind the schedules we would prefer.

SPRING GARDEN DAY: There are workshops throughout the day tomorrow at the Amherst Winter Farmers Market at the Amherst Regional Middle School on Chestnut Street. All workshops are free. At 10:15 learn the art of composting or sprouts with “Dr. Worm” David Lovler. At 11:15 Ryan Karb of Many Hands Farm will demonstrate starting seeds and explain prepping the garden for planting. At 12:15, Ryan Voiland of Red Fire Farm, winner of many awards for his tomatoes, will explain growing heirloom tomatoes. Finally, at 1:15 learn how to understand your working body with Lydia Irons of the Flexible Farmer. Workshops are held in a classroom behind the cafeteria. And in between shop at the market for greens, root vegetables, apples, breads, crafts and eggs. There will be music throughout the day and prepared food as well as crafts for the kids. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

PRUNING: Jessica Groleau will demonstrate basic pruning techniques and give a timeline for tackling common landscape shrubs at a free workshop tomorrow at 10 a.m. at Annie’s Garden & Gift Store, Route 116, North Amherst. The session is free, but registration is encouraged. Call 549-6359.

BAY STATE TALKS: Bay State Perennial Garden in Whately, owned by Peter Flynn, is holding two free garden talks. Tomorrow at 1 p.m. Steve Hebert of The Plant Group, a major producer of perennial plants in Connecticut, which supplies many area nurseries, will give “Confessions of a Perennial Salesman.” Hebert will share his favorites and tell you how to grow them. On March 30, Bay State staffers Anne Marie Kostecki and Dan Zima will present slides of their own gardens, also at 1 p.m. Both lectures will be held at the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library, 202 Chestnut Plain Road, in Whately. The red brick library is in the heart of the village. Bay State Perennial Farm will be open for the season in early April. Check the website:www.baystateperennial.com.

BULB SALE: Smith College’s popular Bulb Show is over for another year, but some of the bulbs will be available for sale tomorrow and Sunday. Friends of the Botanic Garden may purchase pots of bulbs tomorrow morning from 9 a.m. to noon at which point the sale opens to the general public until 3 p.m. Hours on Sunday are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come early for best selection. Tulips may go by quickly and are iffy to bring back into flower next year in the garden but hyacinths and narcissus can be garden stalwarts for many years. Choose carefully for instant flowering or permanence, all at bargain prices.

SYMPOSIA DEADLINES: The first in the three-part series of Spring Symposia sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association last Saturday in South Deerfield attracted nearly 200 people. There is another symposium in Holyoke on April 6 and yet a third in Lenox on April 13. The registration deadline for the Holyoke program is March 30. For registration forms and more information, check the website:www.wmassmastergardeners.org.

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