BY KAREN LA PIERRE

klapierre@dailynews.net

Gardeners and those eagerly anticipating warmer weather gathered at The Hays Daily News Lawn and Garden Show Saturday at the Hays Mall. The show will be reopen from noon to 5 p.m. today.

Thirty-one vendors lined the hallway with educational materials and products for home improvement, including siding, windows, artificial turf for grass, wellness products, and solar energy. Giveaways, contests and samples were widely available.

At the Kansas State University Extension booth, visitors picked up educational materials on buffalo grass, rain barrels, gardening and an upcoming landscaping series of classes.

Beginning March 23, K-State will offer a free series of classes from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays at the Kansas State University Agricultural Research Center. Soil testing, xeriscaping, plant location and species and efficient water conservation will all be discussed.

At the show, children made bird feeders with a pine cone, lard or peanut butter, and bird seed, sponsored by the master gardeners. The master gardener training is offered by K-State.

"It's sort of a neat little craft," said Margie Mueller, master gardener. "You can pick up pine cones just about anywhere and put some twine on it," to create a bird feeder.

Plus, "birds are pollinators," necessary for plants to produce fruit.

Each bird feeder was safely stowed in a brown paper sack for travel home. Mueller also said birds need water as much as food.

While kids fashioned the feeders, Mueller and other master gardeners provided informational material on gardening in the High Plains of western Kansas.

One program is the rain barrel program. They will be available for $26 a barrel from 5 to 7 p.m. April 9 at the research center.

"I like helping to teach. Here in Ellis County, it's a bit tricky," said master gardener Marlene Wasinger. "You just have to learn the skills. One of the secrets is mulching really, really well."

"In 2012, the roots were broiling," because of heat and wind, she said. "It felt like I was digging holes and putting $20 bills in the ground and covering them up."

Although gardening is tricky, it is possible with knowledge, she said.

Brittany Rummel came out because she is excited to start gardening.

"We can to look at the home and garden stuff and to check everything out," she said. "We have a garden at home and play outside all of the time. We're excited to get our flowers started this year."

Several vendors said they were present to generate leads and get the word out about their business.