NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Whether your outdoor plans include festive gatherings with friends or peaceful moments of solitude, get your yard or garden ready with expert training at the 42nd Annual Rutgers Home Gardeners School. Registration is now open for this once-a-year event, which will be held on March 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Rutgers University Cook/Douglass campus in New Brunswick, N.J.
The Home Gardeners School is made up of 38 individual workshop sessions that cover a wide array of horticulture topics. This format allows attendees to select the workshops that are most relevant to their gardening interests so as to create their own unique, customized schedule for a fun day of learning. Expert speakers from commercial horticulture and landscape design firms, as well as faculty and staff from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, provide attendees with the opportunity to learn from highly-respected professionals with a wealth of experience.
Kicking off this year’s Home Gardeners School is a new demonstration workshop called “Easy Garden Walkway Ideas.” This demo will teach you the A-B-C’s of walkway techniques including base preparation, installation and natural walkway material options. Another new workshop is “Welcoming Migrating Birds Back to Your Yard this Spring,” in which participants will learn how to create landscapes that provide food, shelter and nesting for our native avian visitors. Also new is a workshop that deals with those tricky spaces that almost every yard and gardener has to contend with: spots with unusual growing conditions.
In “Unique Plants for Unique Spaces,” attendees will hear about these areas and the plants that will grow successfully in them. Other new workshops for 2018 include Organic, Low Maintenance Landscape Care, Designing Intimate Gardens, Easy Breezy Succulents, Growing Tropicals in Containers, Beds and Borders, Growing the Perfect Jersey Tomato, to name a few. With a total of 21 new or revised workshops this year, you are guaranteed a day of learning experiences that will give you a garden your neighbors will envy.
This year there will be two new keynote presentations happening simultaneously during lunch. In “Keeping Your Pets Safe and Happy Outdoors,” Brian Voynick, DVM CVA (owner/director, American Animal Hospital and Host of The Pet Stop on News 12 New Jersey) will offer suggestions and solutions for creating a safe and happy space for your beloved pets. Nicholas Polanin, County Agricultural Agent, RCE of Somerset County will present “The Rutgers Master Gardener Program — 34 Years and Growing Strong.” Polanin will discuss the history of this great program as well as how you can join this exclusive community of “green thumb” volunteers.
The registration fee for this event is $85, but a special early registration discounted price of $70 is being offered through Feb. 28. An additional discounted fee of $60 is available for Master Gardeners (certificate required) through Feb. 28, as well. Participants can purchase a convenient $13 box lunch when registering or bring their own bag lunch. Pre-registration is strongly recommended.
Continuing our tradition of altruism this year, the Home Gardeners School organizers invite attendees to bring food donations to the event. These items will be distributed to New Jersey families in need through Rutgers Against Hunger, a university-wide initiative working to address the issues of hunger across the state. Look for the RAH table (look for green bins) to make your non-perishable canned or boxed (no items in glass, please!) donation.
New this year, we are also inviting participants to donate items for our furry friends to benefit Happy Paws Rescue (a 501(3)(c) organization focused on rescue and adoption in the New Brunswick area) and Scarlet Paws Rescue (a 501(3)(c) non-profit collaboration of Rutgers staff, faculty, students and community volunteers that rescues stray animals on the Rutgers campus). Find their tables to drop off your donations of unopened dry dog or cat food, treats, chews, toys, collars/leashes, waste bags and gift cards, etc.
— New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station