The living things of the Earth are waking up all around us, and each day is a revelation.
I sat transfixed before the windows Thursday morning as clouds swirled somewhere above me over the sun; I saw their action only as a kaleidoscope of light and shadow playing over the landscape in front of me, alternately lighting up and darkening towering white sycamore branches, brick facades and lush evergreen foliage undulating in the wind.
I was so grateful to the neighbor across the street who had planted those upright arborvitaes last year. It reminded me of how important trees, including evergreens, are to us, and how we help each other, not just ourselves, when we plant them.
Fortunately, the annual Tree Festival is coming up next weekend to help us enter a new growing season with our trees – and other living things. If you were wondering how your redbud was coming out of the winter and how to prune your ornamental pear, you can find that out, as well as how to prune your roses – another garden chore that should be done now.
The annual tree party/spring tune-up on April 5 (oh, just the sound of that – April!) coincides with another harbinger of spring at the same location: the opening of the Kansas Grown Farmers Market, in the parking lot of the Extension Center at 21st and Ridge Road.
In addition to offering information about choosing, planting and caring for trees, Tree Fest will include demonstrations on composting; someone to sharpen your garden tools for a small fee (how many years have I put this off?); tours of the arboretum and nature trail on the grounds; activities for children; and unique trees and plants for sale from vendors from around the region. Project Beauty will have container-grown bur oak seedlings for sale for $8.
Oh, and pancakes and sausage and baked goods will be available to eat.
K-State Research and Extension and its master gardeners put on the festival from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free.
The farmers market opens at 7 a.m. and runs through noon. At least 26 established vendors along with some new ones will be there, selling fresh green vegetables, local honey, meats, baked items, crafts and plants. The market accepts Vision and debit cards and Senior Coupons at its customer-service booth.
The Old Town Farmers Market will open the first Saturday of May.
Spring is running a little late this year, extension agent Bob Neier says, so be patient in waiting for signs of life from your plants. Those that thrive and bloom in the summer heat, such as crape myrtles and butterfly bushes, will be the latest to show themselves. Don’t go giving up on plants until things have warmed up considerably more.
You can, however, scout for known dead wood and remove it. I personally have some water sprouts in my pruning sights.
Here is the schedule for Tree Fest on April 5:
• “Treerific Trees of the Sedgwick County Extension,” by extension agent Bob Neier, 8:15 a.m.
• “‘Survivor’ Trees That Survived the Heat and Drought,” by Jason Griffin of the John C. Pair Horticultural Center, 9 a.m.
• “Tree Fundamentals: Mulching, Watering, Planting and Staking,” by Jeff Otto of Longhofer Lawn & Tree Care, 10 a.m.
• “Basic Landscape Design: What to Plant Where,” by Daniel Kusmaul of Suburban Landscape Management, 11 a.m.
• “Wichita Action Plan for Water Shortages,” by Kay Drennen of the city of Wichita, noon.
Meet in the Meadowlark Room before heading to these destinations:
• Composting, in the demonstration garden, 9:15 a.m.
• Rose pruning, in the hybrid tea rose garden, 10 a.m.
• Tree planting, mulching and watering, on the arboretum grounds, 10:30 a.m.
• Tree pruning, on the arboretum grounds, 11:45 a.m.
Meet in the Meadowlark Room before heading out:
• Arboretum tour, by Cathy Brady of Brady Nursery, 11:30 a.m.
• Nature trail tour, 12:15 p.m.