Got a stumper of a garden problem?
The annual open house at the gardens of John Rudy County Park is the place to find an answer.
Master Gardeners will be ready and waiting to greet all gardeners, from novices to professionals, and answer any and all questions Saturday at the park.
The annual garden open house lasts from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with self-guided garden tours, workshops and other events.
"The Master Gardeners at the open house 'ask the expert' table are master diagnosticians," says Master Gardener Frank Reed, who is responsible for the gardens at the park. "They can answer pest and disease questions and identify plants as well as most other gardening questions."
Bring a sample along, and the Master Gardeners on site will take a look at your problem plants and insects or test your soil's pH levels.
"Master Gardeners (will be) stationed throughout the gardens to answer any gardening questions," Reed says. And those who want further reading or ideas to implement at home are in luck, too. "They will have informative pamphlets you can take home on each of the flower, vegetable or fruit beds."
Display beds: The gardens include 43 display beds sown with a variety of plants to show off the range of annuals, perennials, herbs, natives and cultivars. Container gardens, water gardens, a garden of grasses and a raised-bed garden designed to be easily accessible for gardeners with disabilities will also be on display.
"Featured at the gardens are some high- and low-raised beds of varying size. One bed demonstrates wheelchair-accessible gardening. Others demonstrate square-foot gardening," which packs a large number of plants in a small space, Reed says. "Beds are of various sizes, from narrow to broad and long to short."
Beyond the display beds, the park has more gardens to tour.
"The gardens also feature small gardens consisting of eight with flowers and two with water plants," Reed says.
Started in 1999, the gardens were designed to house Penn State's Gardener Selects Trials. The program tested how well selected plants would grow under local conditions until it ended in 2006; the space became the Demonstration Gardens that remain there today. The open house event is run by the York County Penn State Master Gardeners and the York County Juvenile Probation program in conjunction with the York County Parks and Recreation Department.
Food: John Rudy County Park's gardens grow a variety of berries and vegetables including apples, grapes, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and others. The vegetable gardens produce more than 6,000 pounds of vegetables per year. The produce is donated to the York County Food Bank and the Catholic Harvest Pantry.
Open house attendees will have the opportunity to purchase some of the fresh-picked produce. With tomato season in peak bloom, tomato talks and tasting will be among the many events.
"There will be a tomato tasting table with approximately 20 different tomato varieties to sample," Reed says.
The open house can also appeal to those who enjoy bringing the beauty of outdoor flowers inside the home.
"Flower and herb tussie-mussies (also known as flower bouquets) can be made with Master Gardener assistance if needed," Reed says.
Talks and demonstrations on composting, herbs, insects, native grasses, growing tomatoes and other topics will happen throughout the event. With the renewed spirit of recycling and conservation, one of the educational talks will demonstrate how gardeners can use compost in home gardens.
"Individuals with questions will have opportunity to talk to knowledgeable Master Gardeners," Reed says.
And if the Master Gardeners can't answer a question on the spot?
"Questions will be followed up if the answers require some research," Reed says.
So go on -- give the experts a tough one.
The annual open house at John Rudy County Park's gardens lasts from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. The park is located at 400 Mundis Race Road in East Manchester Township.
Admission is free, and refreshments will be served. The open house will take place rain or shine. Books, tools, soil testing kits, stepping stones and other gardening items will be available for purchase.
The workshop schedule follows:
9:15 a.m.: Composting
9:45 a.m.: Tomato growing
10:15 a.m.: Insects in the garden
10:45 a.m.: Native grasses
11:15 a.m.: Drying herbs
For more information on the gardens, visit http://extension.psu.edu/york/programs/master-gardener/demonstration-gardens or call (717) 840-7408.
Educational tours of the Demonstration Gardens are available through Penn State Master Gardeners, 112 Pleasant Acres Road, Springettsbury Township.
-- Reach Kyle Dunlap at firstname.lastname@example.org.