hort club touring a garden

North Dakota State Horticulture Society tours a garden in this 2018 photo. The group plans top tour two or three gardens in Williston was part of its annual meeting, as well as hear from a variety of horticulture experts.

Two firsts are in store for Williston next week in the gardening world. First, the North Dakota State Horticulture Society is coming to call in Williston for its annual meeting — its first appearance here in at least 20 years, if not the first ever.

On top of that, the group is also bringing in a recognized expert on gardening with native plants in the Great Plains, Cindy Reed from South Dakota, and that’s a first for the group and will be a real highlight for the event.

Reed is with the Great Plains Native Plant Society, which engages in scientific research of native plants in the Great Plains. Among its activities is the establishment of a botanic garden devoted to native plants of the Great Plains, located near Hermosa, South Dakota.

“(Growing natives) is better for your pollinators, it’s better for your environment, because most of them will tolerate the growing conditions better than a lot of the you know fancy cultivars,” Donna Matson, president and secretary-treasurer of the group, told the Williston Herald. “It’s fun to grow those just to see what you can make grow, but it’s also nice to have things that you know are going to be reliable and come back and grow.”

Native plants also support a greater diversity of birds and insects in the larger ecosystem, Matson said, and diversifying plant populations can help reduce the risks of diseases wiping out an entire landscape at once.

“Dutch elm disease, you know, took out a major part of elms in many areas, and now they are looking at the emerald ash borer, which, to the east has taken out most of the ash trees,” she said. “So if that’s all you had planted, you don’t have anything left.”

The conference begins with a social on Thursday July 29 at Handy Andy’s and continues with two days of presentations July 30 and 31. You do not have to be a member to attend the event. The fee for all three days is $110 for non-members. If you just want to go on Friday, the fee is $90 or for just Saturday, it’s $80.

Membership in the organization costs $30.

You can pick up registration forms either at Handy Andy’s or at Williams County Extension Office. Checks may be made payable to NDSHS and mailed to Kelly Leo at Williams County Extension Office, PO Box 1109, Williston North Dakota, 58802-1109.

Other presentations for the event include Haskap production, which is a shrub that produces a blueberry-like berry. Blueberries don’t grow well in North Dakota because the soil is too alkaline, but haskaps do well.

The event will also include tours of area gardens and presentations on controlling weeds by Kelly Leo, shrubs for North Dakota by Kyla Splichal, and Front Porch Gardening by Devon Leo, among other planned activities.

The North Dakota State Horticulture Society mission is to offer sound and solid information on horticulture to its members through its newsletter and educational programs. They are also a medium of exchange for members.

Anyone interested in horticulture may join the society. Annual meetings are held in a different region of the state each year. Past meeting cities include Dickinson, Pekin, Lisbon, New Town, Mohall, Medora, Jamestown, Fargo, and Grand Forks.

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