NWI Times - HAMMOND | Look for a Christmas tree adorned with small flower pots and seed packets and gardening gloves, and you will have found the Lake County Master Gardeners Association entry in the Indiana Welcome Center's holiday exhibit.

As part of the annual "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit, 36 local businesses, nonprofits and civic organizations are decorating Christmas trees for viewing at the South Shore Convention and Visitor's Authority Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive.

Master gardeners met recently at the tourism center to decorate their Christmas tree with handmade garden ornaments, enjoying the camaraderie of their shared interest and exchanging ideas for home and public tree trimming.

Ron and Linda Jones, Valarie Brownewell, Sandy Evans, Lynne Elzinga, and Judy Kopchik later spoke with other county volunteers about the 32 trees on display through Jan. 6, 2013. Visitors can fill out ballots to vote for the best-decorated theme tree, with the winner receiving a framed certificate.

"Please take time during this festive season to view the display," Kopchik said. "LCMGA members appreciate your voting for #26, our tree in the contest."Voting ends Dec. 14.

To learn more about LCMGA activities, visit lakecountymastergardeners.com, and join other garden enthusiasts the second Tuesday of each month through April for garden lectures at 3 p.m. at Tri Town Safety Village, 1350 Eagle Ridge Drive, Schererville. Lake County Master Gardeners answer questions about specific lawn and garden problems in addition to presenting monthly program topics.

The Dec. 11 topic is Winter Seed Sowing by Victoria Jostes, and the Jan. 8 program is Gardening Through the Ages, a History of Plants, with Sherry Kubiak.

For more information contact Nikky Witkowski at the Lake County Purdue Cooperative Extension Service, (219) 755-3240.

The "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit is free, with numerous special events, photos with Santa, cookie decorating and crafts. Visit www.achristmasstorycomeshome.com.