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Free classes and tips for gardeners

Nancy Warny at Clark Botanic Garden, where expert

Nancy Warny at Clark Botanic Garden, where expert gardeners will give tips as they clean up for spring. Credit: Kathy Kmonicek

Whether your dream is a lush lawn, a bushel of homegrown tomatoes or a compost pile that doesn't dry out in July, fellow gardeners on Long Island are willing to lend a gloved hand to help you make it happen.

Here are some upcoming get-togethers where free advice will be dispensed in abundance.

Dahlias 101

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Monday, Winthrop Hall, Church of the Advent, 555 Advent St., Westbury

INFO 516-791-6894, midisland (to register, email


Dahlias -- the frilly, colorful pouf flowers -- are popular enough to have a fan club on Long Island. "Dahlias are so different," says Maureen O'Hara, president of the Mid Island Dahlia Society. "Some are good for borders, some grow into bushes, and some yield flowers that are the size of dinner plates." Attend the group's monthly "Dahlias 101" session to find out what varieties will grow well in your garden, and how to plant them and care for them. You also can get hands-on experience weekly at their public plots: 9-11 a.m. Sunday, plot behind the Administration Building at Eisenhower Park, Merrick and Stewart avenues, East Meadow; and 9-11 a.m. Wednesday at the Paul Callahan Dahlia Garden at the Planting Fields Arboretum, 1395 Planting Fields Rd., Oyster Bay.

Spring cleanup

WHEN | WHERE 1 p.m. April 9, Clark Botanic Garden,

193 I.U. Willets Rd., Albertson. Rain or shine

INFO 516-484-8603,


Not sure how to prune that rose bush? Wondering whether cedar, newspaper or bark mulch is best for your garden? For the cost of an hour or so of your time, you can get the answers to these and other gardening questions from experts at the Clark Botanic Garden's "Waking Up the Garden" event. "The group walks around with a staffer as he prunes, mulches and generally does what needs to be done to get the garden ready for the spring," says education department staff member Maria Morgan. Expect to see pruning techniques, division of plants and mulching among the activities demonstrated.

Summer bulbs

WHEN | WHERE 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 11, Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Rd., Holbrook

INFO 631-588-5024

COST Free, registration encouraged

Instructor John Miller puts gardeners on the right path by demystifying the different types of summer flowering bulbs. He discusses planting schedules and peak blooming times.

"There's no 'easy' button to gardening," says Miller, who works as a nursery specialist at The Home Depot in Patchogue.

The class is open to all, but registration is encouraged, and seating preference will be given to Sachem residents.

For more: Gardening 101

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-noon April 16, Bridge Gardens, 36 Mitchell Lane, Bridgehampton. Rain or shine. Registration recommended.

INFO 631-283-3195,


The Peconic Land Trust's two-hour course covers all the basics of starting a vegetable garden from scratch. "You'll learn how to break ground, how to amend your soil and about planting cool-weather crops such as peas, radishes, carrots and lettuce," says outreach manager Kathy Kennedy. "This program gives you a primer of what to do early on in the garden."

In June, the second part of the series covers planting summer vegetables, crop rotation and strategies for keeping the garden productive through late fall.

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