UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The benefits of creating pollinator-friendly landscapes is a focus of the Yard and Garden Area this year at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 10-12.
The flowers and plantings in the 13-year-old Demonstration Garden at the site attract and nourish huge numbers of native bees, butterflies and other pollinators. With pollinators in jeopardy, Penn State Master Gardeners teamed up with horticulture faculty members to create and nurture the gardens — located at the end of 11th Street at the show site — to demonstrate that supplying pollinators with food and habitat can be beautiful.
“The demonstration plots serve as living proof that the average gardener can do something to attract and help pollinators,” said Yard and Garden Area organizer Molly Sturniolo, Penn State Extension Master Gardener coordinator for Centre County. “Planting these flowers and other host plants is well within the ability of the Pennsylvania gardener.”
To help support and propagate these beneficial insects, the Penn State Master Gardener Program continues to offer the Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification program, which teaches homeowners and gardeners to certify their landscapes as pollinator friendly.
The certification includes such steps as planting a year-round native garden of diverse and abundant plants while providing food, water source and shelter for the pollinators. Removing invasives and protecting native plant communities is another important step to safeguard the habitat and reduce pesticide use. Those who complete the four-step certification process, which carries a $10 fee, will be eligible to purchase a pollinator-friendly sign for their property.
Also, as gardening enthusiasts have come to expect from the Yard and Garden Area, attendees can get advice on plant and pest problems from Master Gardeners across the state at the “Ask a Master Gardener” booth. There also will be presentations on container gardening, seed saving, building raised beds, cover crops, winter sowing, flower arranging and a vegetative propagation demonstration.
Interested in seeing what’s growing in the high tunnel or curious about the Demonstration Garden design and plantings? Centre County Master Gardeners will be giving tours of the Pollinator-Friendly Garden to teach techniques for growing various herbaceous and woody plants. They will answer questions as you walk around the garden area. Be sure to take the kids to visit the butterfly tent and children’s activity booth to engage their curious minds.
Located adjacent to the raised garden beds will be an observation beehive, where experts from the Pennsylvania State Beekeepers Association and Penn State Extension will conduct honey bee demonstrations and provide guidance. Visitors can see posters explaining Penn State research on pollinator issues, and prospective beekeepers can get information on extension’s innovative online course, Beekeeping 101.
For the more curious and adventurous attendee who’d like to gain a deeper understanding of beekeeping, a small bee yard — where visitors can watch a beekeeper open hives and talk about the honey bees’ daily activities — will be located up the hill from the honey bee demonstration area.
The following presentations are scheduled at the Yard and Garden Area:
Tuesday, Aug. 10 — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
–9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Ask a Master Gardener
–9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Children’s Activities
–9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Demonstration Garden Tours by Centre County Master Gardeners
–10-10:30 a.m.: Flower Arranging, Hand-Tied Bouquet
–1-1:30 p.m.: Seed-Saving Basics
–3-3:30 pm.: Container Gardening
Wednesday, Aug. 11 — 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
–9 a.m.-6 p.m.: Ask a Master Gardener
–9 a.m.-6 p.m.: Children’s Activities
–9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Demonstration Garden Tours by Master Gardeners
–10-10:30 a.m.: Cover Crops
–11-11:30 a.m.: Vegetative Propagation
–1-1:30 p.m.: Winter Sowing
–3-3:30 p.m.: Flower Arranging
Thursday Aug. 12 — 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
–9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Ask a Master Gardener
–9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Children’s Activities
–9 a.m.-4 p.m.: Demonstration Garden Tours by Master Gardeners
–10-10:30 a.m.: How to Construct a Raised Bed
Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, 9 miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 10; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 11; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 12. Admission and parking are free.
For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogressdays, and the event also can be found on Facebook (@AgProgressDays).
–Jeff Mulhollem, Penn State University