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Master gardeners host 'Garden U' event

The St Croix Valley Master Gardener's are hosting "Garden U" on March 19 at the Valley House just north of Hudson on Highway 35.

Registration starts at 8:30 a.m. and the $30 fee includes lunch and speaker handouts. Pre-registration can be done by mailing a check payable to SCVMGA to Carolyn Barrette at 1358 County Road V, St. Joseph, WI, 54082.

Questions can be directed to 715-549-6438 or

The annual daylong seminar will feature three speakers, lunch, door prizes, vendors and a great opportunity to meet avid gardeners in the St Croix Valley. The group will also have its "Garden to Table Recipes" cookbook available for purchase.

The morning begins with "What Happened Last Summer." Amanda Gevens, from UW-Madison, will focus on managing vegetable diseases under warm, wet conditions. She will focus on the "water molds" such as downy mildew on cucurbits, onions and basil; Phytophthora fruit and crown rot on cucurbits and peppers; and late blight on tomatoes and potatoes. She will also cover bacterial diseases on tomato, pepper and brassicas as they were problematic under the wet conditions in 2010.

Gevens is originally from Long Island, N.Y. She received a bachelor's degree from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, a master's degree in plant pathology from Purdue University and a doctorate in plant pathology from Michigan State University. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Gevens was an extension plant pathologist with the University of Florida. Since July 2009, she has served as the state specialist for potato and vegetable crops here in Wisconsin and holds a research and extension appointment.

The second speaker of the morning is Donna Frawley, herbalist and owner of Frawley's Fine Herbary in Michigan. She will be speaking about "Those Dynamic Herbs." Her presentation will cover many aspects of growing herbs and using them in cooking. She may also offer a demonstration or taste testing of her recipes.

Frawley's interest in herbs started in the culinary area and grew to include all aspects of herbs. She began by selling at the local farmer's market and that fall opened a home-based business, which continues today. Frawley majored in home economics and worked at a private country club in Minnesota. She used that interest and skill to develop 59 culinary herb blends, eight herb flavored vinegars and seven herbal teas. She carries more than 100 bulk culinary herbs and spices plus fresh herbs that are sold at Midland, Mich.'s local farmer's market.

She has authored three books, has a DVD and also writes a monthly herb column in her local newspaper. This past March she had her first magazine article published in the Herb Companion Magazine. Frawley is a member of the Valley Herb Society, Great Lakes Herb Business Association, Michigan Herb Associates and the International Herb Association.

After lunch, Terry Ferriss, from UW-River Falls, will present "Perennials for Shady Places." Gardeners all know that plant choices for shade can be challenging. Ferriss will offer suggestions and answer questions about new and old varieties of shade tolerant plants that will fit the dry or moist shade conditions that many of us face in our landscape.

Ferriss is assistant dean and professor of horticulture at UW-RF and is an expert in general ornamental horticulture, floriculture and greenhouse production. She earned a bachelor's degree in horticulture from Colorado State University, and a Master's and doctorate in horticulture from the University of Minnesota.