Penn State Extension Master Gardeners Reach Out To Growing Community

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vets park flowers

During the summer of 2015, a Penn State Master Gardener from Bradford County designed and installed a drought-resistant garden in reds, whites and blues for the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda. The Master Gardeners remind all county residents that they are available to answer questions about and assist with the agricultural concerns of homeowners and landscapers in the area.

A Penn State Extension Master Gardener is “a trained volunteer who has horticultural knowledge and a willingness to share that knowledge with county residents through the Penn State Extension.” In Bradford County, the Master Gardeners have shared their knowledge through free public classes offered once a month during the summer. They also run programs for children to help them avoid dangerous poisons found around the household, are represented at the Troy Fair each year to answer your garden questions, and have brought a knowledge and love of gardening to the children at the YMCA camp in Towanda. Each May, the Master Gardeners have a plant sale.

Other projects that are taken on by the Master Gardeners include talks at local libraries, schools and civic organizations. This past summer, a Master Gardeners project left its mark in the Bradford County Veterans Memorial Park garden in Towanda.

On July 3, Bradford County dedicated the new Veterans Memorial Park in Towanda. The park is a lovely tribute to the veterans of our county. At the entrance to the park from the parking lot is the Veterans Memorial Garden. The Bradford County Commissioners requested the expertise of the Penn State Master Gardeners in the design and installation of the garden.

Nancy Menio, Master Gardener and president of the Valley Garden Club, took on the task and designed a lovely garden. The patriotic theme of the Veterans Garden is red, white and blue. The plants chosen by Menio are a combination of native and non-native perennials that will come back year after year. They show their colors at different times from spring to fall, via both their flowers and their foliage. They thrive in the full sunlight of the garden and will survive the dry end- of- summer weather.

Menio’s selections also reflect biodiversity and provide wildlife interest. They are disease-resistant and require minimal care once they are established. The plants used in the garden were specifically selected for drought tolerance. The Master Gardeners will monitor the drought performance of the plantings during upcoming seasons. Plants that do not live up to expectations will be replaced with more drought-tolerant selections but the red, white and blue theme will be maintained throughout.

The garden is bracketed by two shrubs – the native Fothergilla (Mount Airy) and the Weigela (Red Prince). The Fothergilla is noted for its fragrant, white bottlebrush flowers in the early spring and red-purple foliage in the fall. The Weigela provides repeat blooming, red trumpet-shaped flowers that last from summer to fall. The front row of the garden is comprised of silver mound and red sedum. There are lamb’s ear and speedwell. These red, silver and blue plants provide color all summer long, as do the red blanket flowers, white coneflowers and blue star that provide the next row of color.

The garden includes additional perennials that blossom in red, white and blue: hyssop (blue-purple), bugbane (white/pink), Maltese cross (lipstick red), blazing star (white), beardtongue (pink/white), and Russian sage (blue). The combination of plants provides color from early spring to late fall. There is visual variety in the size and shape of the plants, and in the nature of the plant’s foliage.

And then there’s fragrance! The bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will all be happy visitors. All plants are labeled, so visitors can identify plants that they might want to include in their own garden.

The Master Gardeners of Bradford County suggest that you put being a visitor to the garden on your list of things to do next spring or summer

The Penn State Extension Master Gardner program is a great opportunity for home gardeners to learn horticultural skills, organize and teach hands-on learning activities with youth and adults in the community, as well as to have fun and socialize with other gardeners. For more information about the Penn State Extension Master Gardener program, call the Penn State extension office at 570-265-2896. Readers with questions about the plants in the garden, or their own may call the same number. Questions are welcome anytime. Visit www.extension.psu.edu/bradford and click on Master Gardener for more information.

The Pennsylvania State University encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participatein its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Dr. Robert Hansen at 570-265-2896 in advance of your participation or visit. Penn State is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer, and is committed to providing employment opportunities to all qualified applicants without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or protected veteran status.

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