Perspectives Online

Coastal Gardening Festival benefits Dare County Master Gardeners

At Kill Devil Hills, an interested buyer checks the price of a plant with Master Gardeners.
Photo by Art Latham

Overcast skies kept the May temperatures down, but didn't dampen spirits at the annual Coastal Gardening Festival at the Outer Banks Arboretum and Teaching Garden at Kill Devil Hills.

More than 200 people attended the educational event, which netted more than $1,400 to support North Carolina Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener educational projects in Dare County, said Susan Ruiz-Evans, Dare's Cooperative Extension agriculture agent and garden director.

Attendees strolled by a variety of booths offering information on subjects from landscaping to lilies, from soil sampling to outdoor skin care. The Wanchese Lions Club sold lunch foods, and Master Gardeners sold baked goods from recipes from the Master Gardeners' cookbook, also available at Extension's Dare County Center in Manteo.

Other fund-raising activities included sales of Master Gardener-grown plants and a raffle.

Master Gardeners lectured under the shelter of the Thomas A. Baum Senior Center's shady back porch on such topics as mosquito control, container gardening, composting, teas from the garden, flower photography, native plants and fire-wise landscaping.

Said Lois Chatham, Dare Master Gardeners' president, "The festival not only provides information on a variety of horticultural subjects, but we hope it also makes the community aware of the arboretum, which is open to the public seven days a week."

Participation of more than 50 percent of the Master Gardeners helped to make the festival a success, she said.

The arboretum, opened in 2002, is almost within hearing distance of the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to hosting plant tests, it showcases labeled salt- and pest-resistant native plants suitable for the Outer Banks' unique, often harsh coastal microclimates: beach dunes, maritime forest, wetlands. Its winding bricked walkways also meander through a gathering area and butterfly, aquatic and dune gardens.

The arboretum is a project of Cooperative Extension's Dare County Center, Extension Master Gardeners and the Dare Master Garden Volunteer Association, as well as Dare County, Kill Devil Hills, the Outer Banks Community Foundation and the Dunes of Dare Garden Club, which maintains the butterfly garden.

Dare Master Gardeners also sponsor workshops, a volunteer-staffed "Greenline," the Dare County School Age Children's Camp, the Currituck Flower and Garden Show, community festivals, a twice-yearly yard sale, holiday centerpieces, a silent auction, a gardening almanac, dedicated garden bricks and garden craft projects.

- Art Latham

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