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GreenFest offers an education in gardening

The festival begins Thursday and will have 50 vendors offering tips and selling wares on April 6 and 7 in Plant Park.

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 29, 2002

HYDE PARK -- Renee Croup used to rise early to get to GreenFest to buy her favorite plants. This year, as one of 50 vendors at the April 6 and 7 garden festival, she expects she may be too busy to do any shopping.

For the fifth year, Friends of Plant Park will sponsor the four-day educational nature fest, again inviting vendors to the University of Tampa campus to sell plants, accessories and tools.

Workshops and guest speakers round out the weekend program.

"I always tried to get there early to get my pick of roses, herbs and orchids," said Croup. The gardener-turned-retailer opened the Rusty Rooster eight months ago at 3031/2 Magnolia Ave. The tiny shop sells indoor and outdoor garden accessories such as English gates, metal patio chairs, wash tub planters, handpainted sap buckets and watering cans.

Other vendors will bring potted plants, cut flowers and artwork. A tool sharpener will be available as well.

Island Stylin' owner Vince Mortellaro will sell 20 varieties of ginger, along with canna, bromeliad and other tropical flowering plants raised in his Citrus Park nursery.

"It's an absolutely beautiful setting for a plant sale, right underneath the minarets," he said.

Expect "the weird and the wonderful," said Maryon Marsh, self-proclaimed Herb Queen. The Dover master gardener will bring more than 150 kinds of herbs to GreenFest.

"We are the most knowledgeable and have the largest range, from the culinary to the medicinal," she said. Prices start at $2 for 10 kinds of thyme, seven kinds of basil, 10 kinds of rosemary and eight kinds of mint, all organically grown at her business, The Misting Shed.

There will be three opportunities to hear keynote speakers Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan, ranging in cost from free to $75. The husband-and-wife landscape architects are known for teamwork.

"We work hand-in-hand with a team of owners, architect, builder, interior designer and the landscape contractor to create a master plan for a place of lasting beauty," explains Mary Palmer Dargan.

The Atlanta-based couple work on lots of all sizes, "from a small Charleston courtyard to a 16-acre residence in Cincinnati," said Mary Palmer Dargan. She joined Hugh's business when they married 18 years ago.

"When we first met in Natchez, Mississippi, we started a design conversation that has never stopped," she said.

The Dargans travel two to four days a week seeing clients from California to Maryland.

Carole Guyton of Davis Islands will repeat her "Pique Assiette" workshop from last year. Translated, that means she will demonstrate how to make mosaics from pieces of broken china.

Ian Prosser, owner of Botanica International florist, known for his floral designs at krewe parties, charity balls and lavish weddings, will talk on one of his favorite topics, "Floral Designing for Divas."

-- Amy Scherzer can be reached at 226-3332 or


WHAT: Garden festival offering hands-on workshops, demonstrations and a slide show by Atlanta landscape architects Mary Palmer and Hugh Dargan. Children's activities, food, tool sharpening and drive-through plant pick up.

WHERE: University of Tampa, Plant Park.

WHEN: Begins Thursday with luncheon. Two-day festival April 6-7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

ADMISSION: Free, except for select events.


Thursday: "The Art of Garden Design," luncheon talk by Mary Palmer Dargan, 11:30 a.m., Tampa Yacht and Country Club, $30.

April 5: Conversations and cocktails with the Dargans, 7 p.m., private residence, $75.

April 6: "The Four-Part Master Plan," free talk by Hugh and Mary Palmer Dargan, 11 a.m., Plant Hall. Garden mosaics workshop by Carole Guyton, 2 p.m. on the Plant Hall verandah, $20, call (727) 298-8353 for reservations.

April 7: "Floral Designing for Divas," workshop by Ian Prosser, 1 p.m. on the Plant Hall verandah, free.

MORE INFORMATION: Call (727) 298-8353 or visit

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