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Gardeners think spring at annual show

DWhite co-owner Anything Orchids readies an orchid for buyer Saturday during 11th annual gardening show Porter County Expo Center. |

Don White, co-owner of Anything Orchids, readies an orchid for a buyer Saturday during the 11th annual gardening show at the Porter County Expo Center. | Sun-Times Media

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For more on the Porter County Master Gardeners Association, go to www.pcgarden.info.

Updated: February 27, 2014 7:00AM



VALPARAISO — Dave Simkowski comes to the annual gardening show, sponsored by the Porter County Master Gardeners Association, every year for one reason — the seeds.

The seed and bulb exchange is a big part of the show; master gardeners package the seeds and bulbs in the months before the show, and folks can drop them off during the event, too.

The show had 9,000 seed packets when it began, including annuals, perennials, fruit, veggies and herbs.

“It’s the seeds, and being able to talk to a master gardener and ask a question,” Simkowski, of Valparaiso, said during the 11th annual show Saturday at the Porter County Expo Center.

He likes annuals, “stuff that’s a little more difficult to get,” he said, as he held vinca and dusty miller seed packets. “I have not been able to find them in a regular shop.”

His wife, Debbie, comes along to pick up the things for the garden that she likes, such as begonia bulbs and marigold seeds, and to check out crafts offered by the show’s vendors.

“This is eye candy to me,” she said. “I just like seeing what people make. It’s so unique.”

Organizers said this year’s event drew 100 vendors and while the 2013 show had 2,000 visitors, they thought attendance might be down because of the cold. In addition to gardening supplies, crafts and seeds, the event also offered speakers and seminars.

“We’re all about education and helping others grow in their horticultural knowledge,” said Suzanna Tudor, a master gardener on the show’s publicity and promotions committee.

Vendors featured garden implements big and small, live plants, and garden art. Gary Mikita, who sells African violets, has had a booth at the show for several years.

“It’s well-attended, and being here several years, I have a lot of repeat customers, a following, and I just like the garden-related crafts,” he said. “It’s a nice little winter break.”



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