Need a Gift that Keeps on Giving? Think Landscape for Life

     Do you need a special gift for someone who is new to gardening or a gardener new to Southside?  Have you ever wanted to take the Master Gardener course but are still working or don't want to commit to the volunteer obligation?  The Southside Master Gardener Association's Landscape for Life may be just what you need.  Landscape for Life is based on sustainable landscape practices.  Think of it as a mini-Master Gardener training.  The six classes will start on January 16 and be held on every other Friday in January, February and March from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Boston - Halifax County Museum

     The Landscape for Life series starts off on January 16 with an introduction to soils by Kathy Conner Cornell.  Most times we don't give soil any thought.  Soils are everything to the plant.  It is through the interaction of roots and the soil that plants receive their nutrition and water.  Healthy soils are the basis of a beautiful garden.

     Bear Clark will discuss water quality on January 30.  Stormwater management is very important no matter where you live.  We need to garden and manage runoff in ways that protect our waterways.  You will learn special techniques to properly manage rainwater in your landscape.

     On February 13th Kathy will review choosing the right plant for the right place.  It is important to avoid invasive alien plants that disrupt our natural habitats.  Native plants can often be a good choice in the sustainable garden but not necessarily the only choice.  You will learn what to consider as you make the best plant selections for your garden.  Also as a special treat, Herb Thomas, Nelson County Master Gardener, will show the class the steps to make a wildflower meadow.

     We will have a special treat on February 27.  A strong design is the backbone of any landscape.  You shouldn't put a shovel in the ground until you've assessed your space and determined what functions you want your landscape to serve such as play area, private area or entertaining.  The design development will be an ongoing project but to help with the plan Bob Jones, Master Gardener Coordinator and Extension Agent from Charlotte County will guide you through the basics of planning a landscape.

     Materials, normally thought of as hardscape, will be discussed on March 13th.  In the landscape, hardscapes are often used for things such as fencing, arbors, trellises or pathways.  This will be a fun session chock full of ideas on how to use repurposed/recycled materials to define areas in the garden.  A main way we can recycle and repurpose is to compost.  Ben Capozzi, Master Gardener and Permaculturist, will guide you through the steps to create black gold that is so important to our soils.  Kathy will lead a presentation on Integrated Pest Management.  Using pesticides should be the last resort for garden pest problems.  The IPM method details the steps to be taken before ever reaching for a pesticide and what improper pesticide use is doing to our wildlife especially bees.

     The last class on March 27 will be devoted to each member's personal design and their specific issues.  Some designs will be discussed in the class and everyone will have the opportunity for a personal consultation.  You will leave the program feeling confident that you can have the landscape of your dreams and help protect the environment for enjoyment of future generations.

     There will be a $25 fee to cover the materials for the 6 sessions.  Participants are encouraged to attend all sessions to get the maximum value out of the classes.  However if this just doesn't work into your schedule, individual classes will have a $5 fee.  The fee is for a family - husband and wife, parent and MATURE child or friends.  The family must be discussing the same landscape.  This would make a great Christmas gift!

     Advance registration and payment is required.  Space is limited.  To register go to the Halifax Extension Office to pick up an application form or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request an application form.  Mail completed form and check made out to SSMGA to Halifax County Extension Office, PO Box 757, Halifax, VA  24558.  The six classes will be held on 1/16, 1/30, 2/13, 2/27, 3/13 and 3/27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the South Boston - Halifax County Museum, 1540 Wilborn Avenue, South Boston.  For more information email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call the extension office at 434-476-2147.

Native plants such as this Baptisia australis, False Blue Indigo, are part of a sustainable landscape.  If you are interested in learning how to garden with nature, sign up for the Landscape for Life being offered by the Southside Master Gardener Association.