GRASS VALLEY, Calif. May 22, 2023 – On Friday morning, Nevada Union’s Horticulture class lent a hand to Nevada County Fairgrounds’ Gardener Lindsay Hinds and planted approximately 1,000 Marigolds. The seedlings will be in full bloom for the Nevada County Fair (August 9-13) thanks to the careful planning and the gardener’s expertise.

Local nursery Weiss Brothers is where it all begins

Marigold seedlings started by Weiss Bros for the Nevada County Fairgrounds
Marigold seedlings started by Weiss Bros for the Nevada County Fairgrounds

Hinds explained, “We get the plants from Weiss Brothers Nursery in Grass Valley. They start them for us and actually Weiss is very generous in donating the plants. These past few years they’ve been giving them to us, that’s a huge benefit to the Fairgrounds and it’s a wonderful partnership that we have with them. We generally plant around the end of May.”

Nevada Union’s Horticulture class planting the Marigolds

“The Nevada Union Horticulture class is also a partner along with Weiss and they do the planting of the Marigold for us. They come out and I give them a few instructions. There’s a specific layout to the plants and where they sit in the bed to get the right number and the right pattern for the Fair. We have approximately 1000 plants out here right now,” said Hinds.

Meet Mellie

Once the plants are in, that’s where a gardener’s experience comes in. To create the iconic look of the Main Street right on time for the Fair, Hinds and her assistant carefully tend to the plants under the (mostly) watchful eye of their honorary supervisor Mellie, the Golden Retriever.

Mellie, the Horticulture supervisor
Mellie, the Horticulture supervisor. Photo YubaNet

“She keeps me on task and makes sure that I’m out here doing what I need,” Hinds said. “She’s also really good about telling me it’s a little hot and I should stop and take a break. I like to try to get here early in the mornings and we try to start when it’s cool and do most of our work in the early hours when it’s a little cooler than those triple digit temperatures we run into later in the year.”

Disbudding is key

“We water them about three times a week. They’ll get some fertilizer and some nutrients. As it starts to warm up, they just love it. They love this hot weather and that gets them going into stride. There are weekly checks, weekly maintenance on them going up into fair. My goal is to have them prime for that Fair week. So the week before Fair is right when I’m looking at where they’re at and kind of making my last minute adjustments on them,” Hinds shared.

Sounds easy enough, right? But, we wanted to know how she makes “adjustments” to the plants. There’s no dialing up the flowering, or is there?

Hinds chuckled when asked how she can time the full bloom just right. “It has to do with the disbudding of the plants in advance. We call it disbudding when you take off a new bud before it has bloomed. Once a plant has bloomed and the flower is kind of dying down, that’s called a deadhead. That’s what you normally see when you are accustomed to taking color off of a flower. But in order to get a nice bloom for the Fair, we do disbudding ahead of time. It allows the plants to prime for that nice big mature look at Fair that we have that we’re also used to seeing.”

YouTube video
Finishing the planting of the Marigolds at the Nevada County Fairgrounds

Extending the Marigolds’ flowering season for the Draft Horse Classic

The Fairgrounds Main Street Marigolds during a previous Fair.
The Fairgrounds Main Street Marigolds during a previous Fair. Photo YubaNet

Once the Fair is over, the grounds and the flowers need some respite from the crowds, Hinds explains: “One of the big things we’re doing is dealing with the dust on the plants because we’ve had the carnival out here and we know the whole place gets a lot of use and a lot of attention that week. So afterwards we’ll come through and we will clean the plants and wash the dust off and take off the spent blooms. I’m talking with Katie Alling at Nevada Union about partnering with the Horticulture class again this year after the Fair to do the deadheading. Normally, I take care of it, but we take off approximately 10,000 blooms in a week and sometimes more than that. So it’s a pretty big job, and it’s great to have some work with the kids on that. And we will try to bring them back for the Draft Horse Classic. to have another bloom cycle. By doing that deadheading, we’re getting them ready to be another spot of color for the Draft Horse Classic.”

Enjoy the Fairgrounds

The whole Nevada County Fairgrounds facility encompasses 80 acres, with the inner grounds being the primary focus of the gardening crew. Hinds said, “We have a few little flower beds out in the campground. I have over 30 individual flower areas that I maintain in one way or another, and I’m very lucky this year to have an assistant who’s helping me, and it makes a big difference.”

The Fairgrounds are generally open to the public during the week, take a walk and check on the progress of the blooms – we will keep Marigold Watch throughout the season.