Gardening extravaganza planned for Centre County

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It's time to plant, prepare beds and spruce up the landscape. Central Pennsylvania residents 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 17 at the Ag Progress Days site at Penn State's Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs. The site is 9 miles southwest of State College on state Route 45.

Click here for a map and driving directions.

The event, which is the premier fundraiser for the Centre County Master Gardener program, will offer more than 5,000 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.

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 experienced growers to the greenest thumbs.

Presentations are scheduled on the half hour beginning at 10 a.m. Workshop titles include Fruit Tree Basics, Growing Culinary Herbs, Gardening for Pollinators, Container Gardening, Square Foot Gardening, High Tunnels for the Home Gardener, Cooking with Home Grown Tomatoes and Rain Barrel Workshop.

A blacksmith will demonstrate how he makes 18th century gardening tools, and the Pasto Agricultural Museum will offer free tours. All talks and workshops are free thanks to the generosity of event sponsors.

A wide assortment of garden tools, decor, supplies, furniture, accessories and some unique products will make the vendor mart a must-stop place for visitors. The environmentally conscious will find birdhouses and garden statues made from recycled materials as well as furniture made from recycled plastic milk jugs.

Attendees also can buy garden sheds and fences. A number of new food and condiment vendors will provide an opportunity to taste their food products or buy organic and heirloom plants. Breakfast and lunch items also will be available from Hoag's Catering.

"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."

Other activities will include a silent auction featuring valuable items from local merchants -- such as a truckload of mulch from JRS Landscaping -- and a garage sale of garden items. Free chances will be distributed for door prizes: a heavy duty wheelbarrow, a rain barrel and a garden cart all donated by Ace Hardware of State College, as well as a compost bin donated by the Master Gardeners.

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. A schedule of activities and a list of event sponsors are available at http://extension.psu.edu/garden-fair.

People interested in becoming a Master Gardener can contact their Penn State Extension county office. Centre County residents can contact Molly Sturniolo at mas79@psu.edu.

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

A complete statewide list of Master Gardener events can be found online.

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Last Updated May 03, 2014