Green thumbs gear up for gardening extravaganza

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It's time to plant, prune, prepare beds and spruce up the landscape. Residents from around the region can get a head start by visiting the Garden Fair and Plant Sale hosted by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Centre County.

The annual event takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 18, at the Ag Progress Days site at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. The site is nine miles southwest of State College on state Route 45.

For a map and driving directions, click here.

The event, which is the premier fundraiser for the Centre County Master Gardener program, will offer more than 7,000 native plants, free educational garden talks and demonstrations, and a large vendors' mart with unique and useful garden products.

"If anyone needs to know what to plant, where to plant it and when to plant it, they will find answers at this fair," said Molly Sturniolo, Master Gardener coordinator for Centre County. Master Gardeners will be available to answer gardening questions, furnish advice and discuss garden, lawn, tree and insect problems.

Trained by Penn State Extension, Master Gardeners are volunteers who provide residents with research-based educational programs in consumer horticulture and environmental stewardship. They greatly magnify the reach and ability of Penn State Extension to offer practical, how-to advice and problem-solving assistance.

Last year, Master Gardeners statewide answered more than 17,000 phone calls and emails from residents seeking answers to plant, weed and insect issues. They delivered horticulture-education programs, organized and maintained demonstration gardens, consulted with school and community gardens and donated thousands of pounds of produce to food banks.

Altogether, they donated 119,306 hours valued at nearly $2.6 million. And they will do more of the same this year.

A special lineup of how-to talks by experts in their respective fields will cover horticulture tips, techniques and fresh ideas for every gardener -- from beginners to the greenest thumbs.

Presentations are scheduled on the half hour beginning at 10 a.m. First up is Pruning 101, followed by Container Gardening, Square Foot Gardening, Gardening for Butterflies, Organic Home Gardening, Growing Culinary Herbs, Learning about Eastern Bluebirds and Composting. All workshops are free thanks to the generosity of event sponsors.

A wide assortment of garden tools, decor, supplies, furniture, accessories, containers and some unique products will make the vendor mart a must-stop place for visitors.

For environmentally conscious gardeners, Balengee Farms will offer handmade houses for pollinators, such as birds, bees, bats and butterflies. J. R. Peters and Co. will sell water-soluble fertilizers for home gardeners. And Poly Outdoor Furniture will display furniture made from recycled plastic milk jugs.

"We've planned so much for visitors to see, do and learn at the fair," said Sturniolo. "If they dash off after purchasing plants, they will miss a great deal."

There will be a silent auction, garage sale of garden items and tours of the Pasto Agricultural Museum. Free chances will be distributed for door prizes: a chainsaw donated by Best Line Equipment and a professional walk-behind lawn spreader from John Deere Landscapes.

Organizers suggest that visitors bring a wagon or cart to transport their plants. A cool, shady, supervised spot will be provided where wagons can be parked while attendees move about the grounds.

The Garden Fair and Plant Sale is free and open to the public, and plenty of free parking will be available.

Schedule of activities and a list of event sponsors

Anyone interested in becoming a Master Gardener can contact his or her Penn State Extension county office. Centre County residents can contact Molly Sturniolo.

Centre County Master Gardener hotline volunteers are available to answer your gardening questions from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and Wednesdays at centremg@ag.psu.edu or 814-355-4897.

A complete list of upcoming events statewide is available on the Master Gardener website.

Contacts: 
Last Updated April 26, 2013