And the summer of 2008 could be just as bleak.
But, Tony Johnson and his colleagues at the University of Georgia (UGA) Research and Education Garden on West Ellis Road are prepared to show area residents how to have beautiful gardens in the midst of a drought at the ninth annual Friends of the Research and Education Garden Annual Spring Plant Sale and Open House from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
“You can still have nice plants and gardens while conserving water,” said Johnson, who has been the research and education horticulturist at the UGA-Griffin campus for the past seven years. “People don’t realize this but more plants are killed every year from over-watering than not enough water. People just water and water and water and rot the roots off.”
This year’s popular sale will emphasize water-smart gardening through the implementation of container gardens.
“Some people may not be able to go out and do the planting in yards and gardens, but they can at least put some plants together with color and be able to water them with the waste water from the bathtub and the sink dishwater,” Johnson said.
Master gardeners will also be on hand to pass out materials on ways to conserve water, how to use it smartly in the landscape, and how to select plants that, once established, will require less water.
“People don’t realize this, but if you are growing a food crop or vegetable garden, you don’t come under the water restrictions,” Johnson said. “But you’re still supposed to use good management and proper watering techniques. We’ll talk about that.”
All proceeds from the sale go back into the same garden that was started by Joyce Latimer in 1994. Over the years, Friends of the Garden has funded the garden’s entrance, walkway, gate and paving. The group also funded a new building with bathrooms, and furniture for the lobby as well as supplies
“The garden has pretty much been done through donations and private funds,” Johnson said, pointing to six pallets of earth food recently donated for the sale by an industry manufacturer.
There are some additional funds that come from UGA.
All of the plants for sale were grown at the garden and most are tended by volunteer and master gardener Mary Wilkerson, who is referred to as a “propagator extraordinaire” by her colleagues.
Among the items for sale will be one-of-a-kind plants like the Spilanthes acmella or toothache plant, herbs, perennials, vegetables, annuals, native plant material, ornamental shrubs and trees as well as rain barrels and hanging baskets. A new addition to the sale will be a catalog sale where customers can order larger items, such as trees and containers, and have them delivered April 25.
More than 300 cannas will be available for sale at $5 each.
“This garden is a jewel for Griffin,” Johnson said, explaining that the garden is always open to the public. “We have visitors here from all over the world. Last year, we had groups from Iran and we’ve had others from Germany, England and several South American countries. People come here and see some of the latest planting material and how it’s growing.”
For directions and more information, visit www.ugagarden.com/.