It's finally fall in the Grand Valley, and that means it's time for the Tri River Area Master Gardeners' annual Tree Auction and Plant Sale, to be held Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Mesa County Extension office on the fairgrounds. The gates will open at 9 a.m. and the auction itself will begin at 10 with local auctioneer Buster Cattles presiding. The sale will close at 1 p.m. The Master Gardeners will be in attendance to assist you with your selections and answer any questions you may have about the trees and other plants.
The Tri River Area Master Gardeners are our horticulture volunteers, who provide education and information for home gardeners. They answer gardening questions, identify plant problems and provide research-based solutions. They test soil and water for salts and can make recommendations for improving the situation if necessary. They are available to give presentations, workshops, classes and garden tours, and can even make house calls. They greatly increase the outreach the horticulture department is able to provide. They also maintain our four acres of demonstration gardens here on the Mesa County Fairgrounds. The annual Tree Auction and Plant sale is our major fundraiser to support this program. The funds generated are used for educational purposes, both for the Master Gardeners and for the public.
The trees and other plants are donated each year by nurseries and garden centers throughout our four county area. We're very grateful to these generous businesses for their support of our program. This year's donors include Bookcliff Gardens, Camelot Gardens, Chelsea Nursery, Clarke and Company, Eckels Tree Farm and Hydroseeding, The Garden Center, Leroux Creek Nursery, Meadowlark Gardens, Mile High Greenhouse, Mount Garfield Greenhouse and Nursery, Palisade Greenhouse, Rocky Comfort Nursery, Sage Creations, Sprigs and Sprouts, Spruce Point Tree Farm, and Valley Grown Nursery. Many private individuals have also donated plants and other items.
As usual, we will have a snack booth and coffee, available for a small donation to our program. New this year will be a "free table" with plants, books and other items, though again we will be grateful for any donations. Also new will be some items donated by members of the Lavender Association of Western Colorado, which will be for sale.
People always ask what kinds of trees and plants will be available. Since these are all donations that come in right before the auction, we don't know until we get them. One thing I can tell you, though: We will have some lavender plants in the sale. You may have heard about the growing interest in this plant as a commercial venture in our area; it is very well adapted to our soil and climate conditions. You may want to try this beautiful, easy-care plant yourself.
Fall is a great time to plant in our area. Our mild fall weather makes it easy for roots to become established without causing a lot of stress to the trees and shrubs. The plants for the most part have already hardened off for winter, and are less susceptible to water loss. Many trees actually do best when planted in the fall, so come on out to the fairgrounds, enjoy the day with us, visit our amazing gardens, and take home some great bargains for your own garden. You'll find the best selection of plants if you come early in the day.
The Apprentice Master Gardener course will be starting next year Jan. 17, and run every Thursday through March 28. This course, which is the foundation of the Master Gardener program, provides an extensive college-level introduction to horticulture in western Colorado. Following the course, the Master Gardeners are available in our Mesa, Delta, and Montrose County offices to assist clients. If you'd like to learn more about this rewarding volunteer opportunity, give me a call at 970-244-1841.
Rose is the horticulture education specialist at Colorado State University Extension Tri River Area.