People are ready to get down and dirty in the garden.
Recent warm spells have left area gardeners eager to get growing. At least one would think so from the turnout at the Garden Party last Sunday at Clinton Parkway Garden Store and Nursery.
Nearly 100 people took part in the two standing-room-only sessions sponsored by the Journal-World and Clinton Parkway Nursery.
Carol Boncella, Journal-World garden writer and a Douglas County master gardener, led the audiences through an idea-packed slide show and moderated a question-and-answer session that called upon the knowledge of fellow master gardeners Jackie Kennedy and Mary Pat Feifarek and Clinton Parkway owner Ann Peuser.
"The goal of the program, to my mind, was to help people learn about plants that do well in the Kansas garden -- either in the sun or shade garden -- and to show how to use those plants in the landscape," Boncella said.
The program attracted both experienced gardeners and novices.
Angela Grimes, who plans to move into her new home in late spring, found the afternoon enlightening.
"I went to get some ideas on how to do my flower beds and garden since I've never done any gardening before," Grimes said. "It was a really good way to get your feet wet."
Following each slide show, Boncella worked the crowd with the skill of Phil Donahue, getting participants to talk with others about their garden successes and failures.
"There was quite a range of experience -- that's what made it fun. People could share," Boncella said.
During the sometimes humorous sessions, participants quizzed the master gardeners and each other about a variety of topics, including amending Kansas' demanding clay soil, keeping clematis happy, choosing roses and heeding pruning times.
"I think it probably underlined that (gardeners) are thirsting for any kind of knowledge they can get," Peuser said. "You had avid or hard-core gardeners to novices. It was kind of neat because you got a lot of interaction and sharing of information."
Peuser was thrilled with the turnout of the program, which gave participants a chance to learn more about their hobby without sales pressure they may feel when visiting a nursery.
"Education is something you can tell people are after," she said.
Those who were unable to attend shouldn't feel left out. Boncella said she plans to put the Garden Party sessions to good use. Questions from the event will be reviewed on an upcoming Garden Spot page.