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In the Garden: Annual Garden Expo back with classes, vendors and fun

FILE - Honey bees and a large bumble bee share a flower in a field planted by farmer Dennis Urbat, who lives north of Deer Park, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017 in one of several fields he has planted with giant yellow sunflowers, which he will sell for bird seed or for making sunflower oil. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Gardeners of the Inland Northwest, are you ready for the most highly anticipated garden event of year? Billed as “the show for gardeners put on by gardeners,” Garden Expo takes place on May 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Spokane Community College Lair.

Hosted by the enthusiastic and tireless volunteers of the Inland Empire Gardeners, this event is not to be missed. The theme is “Garden Fiesta: Let’s Party!” and if there’s one thing this club has demonstrated over the years, they know how to put on a great party.

Attendees will have the opportunity to shop at the booths of more than 250 garden-related vendors offering plants, pots, garden art, tools, birdhouses, bulbs, hanging baskets and much more.

Local plant vendors include Blumenhaus, Cedar Mountain perennials, Desert Jewels Nursery, Elithorp Farm, Northland Rosarium, Tall Grass Farms, the Tomato Lady and Wabi Sabi. There will be specialty nurseries from the Puget Sound region including Antique Rose Farm, Heavy Petal Nursery, Lael’s Moon Garden Nursery, Lily Pad Bulb Farm and the Rogerson Clematis Collection.

Since shoppers are certain to work up an appetite, there will be food vendors offering plenty of choices to help them maintain their energy level.

There will be free seminars and demonstrations throughout the day. Refer to the accompanying schedule to view the topics and speakers. In addition, door prizes will be given out hourly and live music will complement the fun atmosphere.

The region’s horticultural organizations will be on hand to share information about their groups. This includes the WSU Spokane County Master Gardeners, Inland Dahlia Society, Floral Art Designers, Friends of Manito, Spokane Lilac Society, Inland Empire Water Garden & Koi Society, Spokane Orchid Society and Inland Northwest Garden Railroad Society.

The Inland Empire Gardeners is the largest garden club in the region. They put on their first show, which was much smaller in scope, 19 years ago. It has grown dramatically over the years with more than 25,000 people attending last year’s show.

The mission of this not-for-profit organization is to “deepen the public’s appreciation of horticulture and beautification, and to introduce education and commercial resources available to the region.”

In addition to Garden Expo, their annual service projects have included donations made to the YWCA Victims of Domestic Violence project, Second Harvest Food Bank, Spokane Humane Society, Bee Kind Garden for Abused and Neglected Children, Juvenile Court’s My Bag program, and local horticultural programs. They also host the Garden of the Month contest each summer.

Learn how to plant Swiss chard and beets in this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video on my YouTube channel, youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com.